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The Backstage Pass

A Definitive Guide to the Top New Zealand Fly Fishing Lodges

May 03, 23

Yellow Dog’s New Zealand program has experienced considerable growth and expansion over the past two years, going from one lodge and one independent guide to eight lodges and three independent guides. We also partner with dozens of resorts and providers of tourism products (from wine tours to boat cruises), which allows us to create completely customized trips to a country that has so much more than just fishing to offer. 

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However, each of New Zealand fly fishing lodges we work with have been highly vetted and represent a wide range of options in terms of fishing programs, pricing, and more. To help you identify which lodge or lodges might be a good fit for you, we have summarized each of them below:

NEW ZEALAND LODGE OVERVIEW

PORONUI LODGE
When we close our eyes and picture what a luxury fishing lodge should be like in New Zealand, a place like Poronui comes to mind. What started as a rustic fishing camp on the banks of the Taharua River has evolved into a sophisticated, world-class wilderness fishing destination that also happens to be in a totally idyllic setting.

Maori heritage runs deep at Poronui; in fact, much of the land surrounding the property is Maori-owned. Anglers can enjoy privileged access to much of this area and 25 miles of water on Poronui. The rivers that flow through the scenic Kaimanawa Range of the North Island are utterly pristine, loaded with rainbow trout as well as browns, and can either be reached on foot or by helicopter. For the adventurous angler seeking a truly authentic wilderness experience, camping options are also available.


However, the Lodge itself is truly special and you might find it difficult to part with the comforts of your accommodation. Poronui is the ultimate wilderness playground and while it was founded upon fly-fishing, there are countless other activities to suit the non-angling guest, such as horseback riding, hiking, hunting, or just relaxing at the spa. Poronui spoils its guests with elegant accommodations, incredible food, and unbeatable service… the difference is truly in the details, which is exactly what one can expect from a Lodge that was built by anglers for anglers.

TONGARIRO LODGE
Steeped in a rich heritage of fly-fishing, Tongariro Lodge has been around for decades and has been a favorite destination among devoted anglers, former presidents, and even royalty. Located alongside the world-renowned Tongariro River, which flows into great Lake Taupo and offers year-round fishing opportunities, this traditional fishing lodge is ideally situated in an area that is reputed for its robust rainbow trout fishery.


Indeed, the first rainbow trout introduced to New Zealand were first brought to this region from North American stock in the 1880s and have been thriving ever since. And while Oncorhunchus mykiss is certainly an icon for this region, the Taupo catchment also boasts strong populations of brown trout. Anglers have gravitated towards the central plateau of the North Island for decades to pursue the trophy trout that reside in that area, and Tongariro Lodge has always been one of the most popular places for them to kick up their feet at the end of a long—and productive—day of fishing.

For the non-angler, Tongariro Lodge offers an abundance of activities, including golf, spa services, whitewater rafting, and close proximity to the famous Tongariro Alpine Crossing, considered one of the finest days walks in the world! Tongariro Lodge truly has something special to offer, whether you are traveling for a corporate retreat, a hardcore fishing trip, or a relaxing stay at one of New Zealand’s legendary lodges. The newest addition to our to New Zealand lineup, this one has not even made it onto the Yellow Dog website yet; however, it is coming soon!

OWEN RIVER LODGE
Every detail of the Owen River Lodge has been considered with fishing in mind—the lodge prides itself as one of the finest sight-fishing brown trout fisheries in New Zealand (and it isn’t hard to see why). Nestled in the Owen Valley in the Nelson Lakes district of the South Island, the lodge enjoys access to at least 25 exceptional freestone rivers and spring creeks, all of which are within an hour’s drive.


Host and owner Felix Borenstein have made this lodge into a fly-fishing institution. Many guests return year after year to experience his warm Kiwi hospitality and pursue the big brown trout that patrol the waters around the lodge. The lodge is set on a stunning property next to the Owen River, and while many rivers are easily accessible by vehicle, heli-fishing is also an option. Owen River Lodge is a critical component of any serious fishing itinerary in New Zealand for the dedicated angler.


His guides are some of the most experienced in all of New Zealand—most of them have over 20 years of guiding under their belts. However, the charming lodge employs a full-time staff to cater to the non-angling guest's experience. There are dozens of activities available both on and off-campus for spouses or the whole family. Felix and his charming team of hospitality professionals will ensure that your time at Owen River Lodge is as relaxing and enjoyable as it is action-packed.

MINARET STATION
For a high-end adventure unlike any other, look no further than Minaret Station Alpine Lodge. This special destination exemplifies the very best of super-luxury and rustic comfort and is found at the head of a beautiful glacial valley in the mountains (but you can only get there in a helicopter).


This is one of the most authentic, exclusive, and secluded destinations we have ever been able to offer; indeed, it is the first and finest destination of its kind in New Zealand. Minaret Station was founded by the legendary Wallis family of Wanaka and was built on a rich tradition of outdoor heritage—the family still owns and operates the Lodge as well as one of the greatest fleets of helicopters in the country. As a result, helicopters are an indelible part of this experience, as they enable guests to enjoy a wide range of unique outdoor activities from biking (downhill), hiking, and, of course, fishing on some of the most pristine and remote trout rivers on earth.


Minaret Station also serves as a working high-country farm, and you’ll find that there is no better way to experience the taste of New Zealand lamb, deer, or beef than in the Mountain Kitchen at Minaret Station. The picturesque mountains surrounding the lodge are a striking juxtaposition to the soft sheepskin carpets in each of the four luxuriously appointed Chalets; each boasts a private hot tub and balcony. Minaret Station is an automatic highlight of any trip ‘down under’.

CEDAR LODGE
If it’s good enough to be featured in a book titled Fifty Places to Fly Fish Before You Die, it’s probably a place to consider fishing when traveling to New Zealand. Cedar Lodge is unique for many reasons, but one thing that sets it apart from other fishing lodges is that they are the only owner-operated heli-fishing lodge on the South Island, which significantly reduces the cost of this extravagant and exhilarating mode of fishing.


Cedar Lodge also enjoys access to an exclusive concession in Mt. Aspiring National Park, home to some of the most spectacular trout waters on the South Island. There are over twenty rivers within striking distance of the lodge, all of which are located in some of the most picturesque places in New Zealand. The fact that daily helicopter flights are included in the rates means that anglers have a plethora of options for every day of their stay and the flexibility to change plans when the weather does not play along.

The charming lodge building is located on five acres along the banks of the Makarora River, and this location is optimal not only for fishing but also for recreation in the form of hiking and sightseeing (and golf—there is a five-hole course on the property). This is a destination not to be missed when traveling to the South Island.

FIORDLAND LODGE
With its enormous beams of Douglas fir, the magnificent timber architecture of this South Island fishing outpost is reminiscent of a classic North American fishing lodge, but it is complete with all the internal charm that a luxury New Zealand lodge can offer. Located just outside the township of Te Anau, Fiordland Lodge is situated in the heart of a stunning national park of the same name and, therefore, in one of the greatest fishing destinations in the Southern Alps.

Dozens of rivers can be easily accessed from the lodge in a vehicle or by helicopter, which gives anglers many options when planning each day of their trip with the guides. Fiordland Lodge sits at the gateway to Fiordland National Park, which is home to two dramatic fiord-like sounds: the more serene Doubtful Sound and the iconic Milford Sound, which Rudyard Kipling has described as the eighth “Wonder of the World.”

These are terrific day trip options for any guest, though guests who would like to hike one of the many famous New Zealand tramps can take on the stunning 3-4 day Kepler Track or any of the other shorter—but equally exquisite—day hikes in the World Heritage wilderness nearby. With so much to do and see at Fiordland Lodge, it’s no wonder that their clients return year after year in pursuit of a new adventure in the beguiling backcountry nearby.

INDEPENDENT GUIDES
We understand that not every client is interested in a fishing lodge experience. That is why we have developed an independent guides program, which allows our clients to go out and experience the best of New Zealand fly fishing without the price tag. These guides are some of the most experienced and knowledgeable fly fishing guides we have ever known and they can take you into some truly unbelievable trout country on a trip of your own design.

Whether you are wanting to overnight in the backcountry or just get to areas that you won’t otherwise access via one of our lodges, this is a terrific option for the adventurous angler. These experiences can be tailored specifically to your wants and needs, so please call us on 888-777-5060 to customize your experience with one of our NZ independent guides.

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