Species
Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout
Destination Type
Luxury Lodge
Fishing Style
Dry Fly, Sightfishing, Wading
Season
October - April
Fishing Days
4 - 10+
Rate
$$$
Why We Go
  • Sight fish for large wild brown trout
  • Fish with some of the most experienced guides in New Zealand
  • Challenge yourself at one of New Zealand's most technical but rewarding fisheries
  • Treat yourself to a luxury lodge that has the laid-back feel of a private fishing club
  • Enjoy a specialized fly-fishing lodge with fine food, accommodations, service, and fishing
Overview

A very well managed and understated luxury lodge where serious anglers pursue their sport.

Located in the greater Nelson Lakes/Murchison region at the north end of the South Island, Owen River Lodge is a stylish yet understated lodge for discerning fly fishers. From a home base on 16 acres of serene riverfront property on the Owen River, guests can easily access more than 30 rivers in the area, most of which are less than an hour’s drive from the premises. The rivers of the west coast, Murchison, Nelson, and Marlborough regions are all within reach. For those willing to chopper out, even more systems await exploration.

In addition to the comforts of the main lodge, guests enjoy private cottages with king beds, reverse cycle air conditioning, fine original artwork, and handsome wood detailing. Meals at the lodge are eclectic and superb, borrowing from Maori, Polynesian, Asian, and European traditions in a unique fusion referred to as “Pacifica Cuisine.”

Non-anglers visiting the lodge have ample activities to choose from including mountain biking, hiking, vineyard tours, rafting, caving, horseback riding, golf, and local gallery tours. For all visitors who appreciate small, secluded, service-oriented operations, this is a must-see destination.

Fishing Program

New Zealand is one of the world’s most unique and challenging trout fisheries in that anglers have the opportunity to spot their trout before casting to it. Sight-fishing – which comprises roughly 75% of down under angling – is demanding and intense by Western fishing standards. The fish are large and wary, the streams and rivers in which they live are often crystal clear and, interestingly enough, anglers are their only formidable natural predator. As a result, Kiwi fish can be very spooky. When stalking these fish, the perfect first cast is the ultimate weapon. Generally, the key to success down under is not the ability to make long casts but rather the ability to make gentle accurate presentations under pressure. More often than not, the target is between 20 and 40 feet away. Anglers who embrace the necessary skills might expect to land three to four fish a day between three and five pounds. Shots at larger fish will present themselves, but hooking and landing the really large specimens should be considered a hard-earned bonus, as opposed to a baseline expectation.

Anglers at Owen River Lodge primarily target wild brown trout. While fish populations in New Zealand are low, compared to the U.S., the average size is much larger. Guests should expect to cover several miles each day while trying to locate fish. Once spotted, a game plan is devised between the angler, guide and angler who awaits the next fish. The guides are Kiwis and are extremely talented in spotting and stalking fish. Anglers who can cast accurately with very long leaders (sometimes 15-plus feet or more) while under pressure will find great rewards.

Accommodations

Guests stay in one of six, purpose-built guest cottage suites, which have been designed with both the angler and non-angler in mind. They are in the garden, a short stroll from the main lodge building. These cottages feature king beds, reverse cycle air conditioning, fine original artwork, and handsome wood detailing. Meals at the lodge are eclectic and superb, borrowing from Maori, Polynesian, Asian, and European traditions in a unique fusion referred to as “Pacifica Cuisine.”

Additional Experiences

Non-anglers visiting the lodge have ample activities to choose from including mountain biking, hiking, vineyard tours, rafting, caving, horseback riding, golf, and local gallery tours. For all visitors who appreciate small, secluded, service-oriented operations, this is a destination not to miss.

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Nelson, NZ and transfer to lodge. Guests can arrange for an airport pickup or a car rental to reach Owen River Lodge (not included in package)

Day 2 – 7: Six full days guided fishing

Day 8: Depart lodge for other adventures or Nelson to begin the journey home.

Rates & Details

2023-24 Rates: Per person based on double occupancy

October 1 - December 6 and March 22 - April 30:

  • 7 night/6 day package: NZ $8,290
  • 6 night/5 day package: NZ $7,035
  • 5 night/4 day package: NZ $5,785
  • 4 night/3 day package: NZ $4,535
  • 3 night/2 day package: NZ $3,280

December 7 - March 21:

  • 7 night/6 day package: NZ $10,500
  • 6 night/5 day package: NZ $8,950
  • 5 night/4 day package: NZ $7,385
  • 4 night/3 day package: NZ $5,800
  • 3 night/2 day package: NZ $4,240

Included: Accommodations, guiding, all meals, access fees.

Not Included: Transportation to and from the lodge, alcohol, optional fly-outs by fixed-wing aircraft or helicopter, gratuities, items of a personal nature, and fishing tackle

Season: November to April

Species: Rainbow trout, brown trout

Lodge Capacity: 12 anglers

Fly Water Q&A

Who is best suited to this destination? Anyone will enjoy their time at Owen River Lodge. The lodge is great for beginners and experts, but experienced anglers will have the most success here. It is ideal to be able to cast a line with a 15-foot leader accurately.

Where is the lodge? Owen River Lodge is located on the South Island of New Zealand. The lodge sits on 16 acres on the Owen River just outside the small town of Murchison. The lodge is roughly a 90-minute drive south of Nelson, New Zealand.

How do I get there? To get to Owen River Lodge guests need to fly to Auckland (AUK) and then transfer to Nelson (NSN). Once in Nelson guests need to rent a car and drive the roughly 90 minutes to the lodge or arrange for a shuttle. Most flights arrive in Auckland early in the morning and the transfer to Nelson arrives in the early afternoon. The lodge asks that guests arrive at the lodge after 2:00 PM.

When should I go? The lodge is open from October to April. The season is broken up into three stages: October and November are considered early season; the high season is December through March and late season is April.

How will I fish? All fishing is walk and wade with 90% being sight fishing with nymphs and dry flies. Most of the casting will be between 25 and 40 feet and it is important to be accurate with your cast the first time. A drag free drift is just as important as your cast, so practicing your line management before arriving is a good idea.

Is there wade fishing? Yes. All fishing at Owen River Lodge is walk and wade fishing.

Where will I fish? When it came time for the owner Felix to choose a location to establish his own fishing lodge, he spent 12 months scouting New Zealand for the perfect location. Murchison sits right in the middle of the very best brown trout fishing imaginable. From their location, Owen River Lodge guests can fish 29 rivers and streams, most are within a 90-minute drive of the lodge, with a further dozen or so wilderness streams that they can helicopter/water taxi to.

How long does it take to reach the fishing grounds? The Owen and Fyfe Rivers at the lodge’s doorstep, there are over two dozen rivers and streams within a 90-minute drive of the lodge.

What type(s) of fish will I catch? The rivers around Owen River Lodge are predominately wild brown trout fisheries, with trophy brown trout being the main event here.

How many fish will I catch? New Zealand is a quality over quantity fishery.  If you are targeting the trophy brown trout of this area landing 3-6 fish a day is considered a great day.

Will I see other anglers? Typically, no.

What are the guides like? The lodge has developed their own team of sever guides that work exclusively with Owen River Lodge. They are very proud of their team and believe that they are the best assembled in New Zealand. They are all professional, full-time fishing guides, with a wealth of experience. All the senior guides are members of the New Zealand Professional Fishing Guides Association.

They also have an FFI Certified casting instructor in house, Kylie. She can assist with casting lessons and practice off the water. A lesson with Kylie may help refine your casting and maximize your time on the water with your guide.

What are the physical demands? Guests should be prepared to do all their fishing while wading. The wading is not difficult, but guests will often cover several miles each day so being in good walking condition is a plus.

Are there any special skills required? No, but proficient anglers at making good presentations and controlling the line while fishing the drift will have the most success at Owen River Lodge.

Does the lodge provide equipment? Yes. The lodge is a Sage dealer and can provide current model Sage rods & reels, Simms waders & boots and all terminal tackle, but guests are welcome to bring their own.

What is your favorite setup for the trip? A complete angler would have a 5-weight rigged with a dry fly and a 6-weight set up for nymphing. We recommend a fast-action multipurpose rod with a 15-foot leader.

Rod: Sage X 690-4
Reel: Sage SPECTRUM LT 5/6
Line 1: RIO Gold
Leader: RIO Powerflex 15-foot

What are the top flies? The ORL guides will be happy to provide suitable flies. Some of the Kiwi favorites are:

Parachute Adams, Standard Adams, Blow Fly, General Terrestrial and Cicadas. As well as

Hare and Copper, Pheasant Tail, and some small tungsten bead heads (size 14-18).

What are the options if water conditions become challenging?

Owen River Lodge has over 29 river options within an hour and half drive. The guides can usually avoid inclement weather because the lodge is in the middle of three very distinct regions of New Zealand geography. If the weather is rough in one region, they can easily move to another.

What is a typical day like? Breakfast is served from 6:30 AM and the guides arrive at the lodge around 7:45. Angling guests will depart the lodge around 8:15 with the guides and a packed lunch. Guests will return to lodge around 6:00 PM to clean up and prepare for dinner that is served at around 7:30.

What is the general vibe, atmosphere, and style of the lodge? The lodge is modern, laid back, comfortable, welcoming, and relaxed. The folks at the lodge want guests to be comfortable and dress is casual. This is not the lodge that you will need a jacket for dinner.

Is there an on-site owner, manager, or other point-person at the lodge? Yes. The owner of Owen River Lodge, Felix, lives onsite and is always available.

Where do we eat, and what are the meals like? Meals are served in the lodge building. The meals are another reason to visit this lodge as they are spectacular. Every meal is planned around the use of freshly made and grown local ingredients. New Zealand's unique cuisine has grown from a fusion of highly distinct cultures - Māori, Polynesian, Asian and European. Kiwis call the cuisine that emerges from this fusion - Pacifica cuisine.

What is the alcohol policy? Beer and house wines are included in the package. Spirts and non-house wines are an additional cost paid on site.

Where do we stay, and what are the accommodations like? Guests are accommodated in one of six, purpose-built guest cottage suites, which have been designed with both the angler and non-angler in mind. They are in the garden, a short stroll from the main lodge building.

Is there internet and/or cell service? Yes. There is Wi-Fi throughout the lodge and cell service.

Are there other activities? Yes. The lodge offers spa and wellness treatments onsite, has a fleet of mountain bikes for use by guests and there are great hikes and walks just outside of the lodge. Offsite, guests can take farm and winery tours, play golf, go kayaking or white-water rafting, or walk the Buller Gorge Swing Bridge – the longest swing bridge in New Zealand.

Are there any other expenses? Guests will need to purchase a New Zealand fishing license and arrange for transfer to the lodge. If guests would like to Heli-fish or participate in any of the non-fishing activities, they will need to pay onsite.

Do I need a visa? Most visiting guests to New Zealand do not need to acquire a visa but will need to buy a New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority (NZeTA) and pay an International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy (IVL). A NZeTA can be acquired for NZ$ 9.00 if you use their ap or NZ$ 12.00 if you do it online. The IVL is purchased at the same time and costs NZ$ 35.00.

Are there any health concerns, dangers, or annoyances? No, but guests have a responsibility to disclose any health concerns to Fly Water Travel or to the lodge prior to arrival.

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