New Zealand

Cedar Lodge, New Zealand Destination Report

Max Salzburg May 13, 2024

Our friend Kyle Vassilopoulos recently returned from a trip to Cedar Lodge on the South Island of New Zealand and sent us this report from his trip.

Cedar Lodge, South Island New Zealand 

Days 1-2-5 we explored the Wilkin and Albert Burn river systems, having excellent weather and conditions. The conditions and fish were prime for larger dry fly presentations with a healthy mix of browns and bows all looking up. Hiking miles of river each day we spotted and shared shots at a hand full of behemoth browns days 1-2 but in the end we couldn't close the deal these days. On blue bird day 5, back on the Wilkin I was able to finally tie into a larger than average brown with a big eat, bringing it to hand. Otherwise the team for these days tied into enough "standard" plus sized NZ trout to warrant icing our wrists at the end of the day over a cocktail on the lodge patio.

Days 3 we awoke to cold wind and rain with a 24-hour weather system blowing into the Makarora Valley. As the rivers colored and swelled we headed out to swing streamers at the banks on the lower Makarora. This produced a few bows along with tying into one very large brown lost well into my backing, rolling out in the heavy currents mid river. After no reprieve in the rain mid day we decided to move location down river to explore the inlet areas of the Makarora. This very different fly fishing experience produced many shots at brown trout cruising the banks in still colored waters.

Day 4 the weather had cleared but water conditions remained tricky. We headed to the Hunter Valley hopeful for clear waters in some smaller creek tributaries to the Hunter main stem river. This day again provided a stark change of fly fishing style to the previous days. We hunted small still waters with small dry flies, creeping up the system for the day casting for big fish. By the end of the day we had landed more fish than is worth counting and we had shots at a few bigger browns yet again.

Day 6, the last day, and my favorite day of the trip we flew into the Okuru River for the day. This river and the location was all time epic in every way. Hiking the high banks for the day, spotting a single large trout in a 100 yard stretch of gin clear water, taking the time to set up in position and then getting the coveted first cast dry fly eat. I cast to many fish on this day, a few of them dreamy large NZ browns, all of them spotted from the banks of this gorgeous river.

This trip was fantastic, the rivers a dream come true, and the Cedar Lodge offered all the comforts anyone could ever hope for. Fishing guides Paul, Nick and Alex had everyone completely covered for the days with just the right combination of wit, banter, and expertise on the rivers. Flying out each day provided stunning vistas of the landscapes giving a real sense for how special all these rivers and these areas are.

The lodge sits quietly in the Makarora Valley. But the food, service, accommodations and setting was anything but modest. My personal favorite aspect of Cedar Lodge itself was the outdoor patio dinning area, providing spectacular evening views of golden undulating grass fields, mountain peaks, pine trees bobbing in the breeze, hawks swooping into the valley, and the evening "hatch" backlit by the setting sun.

Adding to the post fishing evening festivities each night, Scotty the lodge manager has set up a "casting course" on the lodge property. Each evening everyone grabbed their favorite beverage or cocktail and headed out for a round of casting golf on the course. Scotty is an excellent casting instructor and having this friendly casting competition each night gave all the guests ample opportunities to sharpen their casting skills by Scotty's excellent guidance and the groups camaraderie.

Many thanks to the Cedar Lodge and all their staff for a absolutely amazing trip on some of the world's most amazing trout rivers.

Cedar Lodge, New Zealand

Helicopter fish everyday with New Zealand's top fly-out only lodge.