The arrival pattern of glass eels of the shortfin eel Anguilla australis and longfin eel Anguilla dieffenbachii was studied over a two successive migration seasons in the Grey River, South Island, New Zealand. Fishing was carried out on selected nights during September to November, for 3 h per night during 2000 and 2001. The number of shortfin glass eels exceeded longfins in both years; earliest glass eels (September) were larger than later glass eels (November), and longfins larger than shortfins, but there were significant differences in size between years for both species. Environmental variables affecting recruitment differed between years, but common variables for both years were sampling date, time after high tide (incoming tide preferred), time after sunset and moon phase; the influence of moon phase appeared to be expressed both through tides (spring tides preferred) and moonlight. During the year of higher discharge variability, both increasing discharge and increased turbidity were also important.