Heli-Fishing New Zealand's South Island
One thing that sets Cedar Lodge apart from other fishing lodges in New Zealand is the fact that it is the only owner-operated heli-fishing lodge on the South Island, which means they can offer the heli-fishing experience at a fraction of the cost. With a unique concession in Mt. Aspiring National Park, Cedar Lodge also enjoys exclusive access to some of the most spectacular trout waters in the South Island. This affords anglers many different options when planning their daily adventures and the flexibility to easily change plans in the event of inclement weather. In fact, there are about two dozen rivers within striking distance of the lodge’s helipad. Settled on the banks of the Makarora River, this understated lodge is located on five acres in one of the most picturesque settings in New Zealand. In addition to productive fishing, there are a plethora of beautiful hikes in the area, which is just one more reason why Cedar Lodge has become a beloved destination for anglers and eco-adventurers alike. This is a destination not to be missed when traveling to the South Island.
Cedar Lodge is situated on a five-acre property along the banks of the Makarora River, just north of Wanaka and west of the wilds of Mt. Aspiring National Park—a setting that truly has to be seen to be believed. It’s no wonder, then, that space is very limited and the lodge often books one year in advance. The lodge itself is comprised of four double-occupancy rooms which feature full ensuite bathrooms and plenty of space in which to spread out your gear. These recently remodeled rooms are connected to the main lodge and dining area by a breezeway. Each window in the lodge frames a spectacular view to the Southern Alps. The private helipad is right in front of the main lodge, which is the point from which you will take off on your daily helicopter trip.
Food and Beverages
Every meal is truly mouthwatering—from your hearty breakfast to your delicious streamside lunch and every course of your gourmet dinner. Cedar Lodge has assembled a fine team of chefs and their creations draw influence from New Zealand culinary styles, with an emphasis on the farm-to-table concept. The lodge takes pride in its “clean and green” cuisine (which is not hard to find in a country like New Zealand). Guests enjoy a fabulous, three-course meal every evening in the al fresco dining area. In addition to the outstanding fare that comes out of the kitchen, an award-winning wine list at Cedar Lodge provides the guest with pairing choices ad infinitum.
Typical Length of Stay
Trips of any length can be arranged. There is no set change-over day, so guests can arrive and depart on any day of the week.
The area around Cedar Lodge is of an almost paradisical quality, with massive lakes, mountain peaks, glaciers, waterfalls, rivers, and fertile valleys. Many of the hikes in the area are considered some of New Zealand’s finest—Gillespie’s Pass, Mt. Brewster, Blue Pools, and Timaru Creek to name a few. There are also exquisite glacial lakes in the area that can be accessed either on foot, via jet boat or via fixed-wing aircraft. Due to Cedar Lodge’s flexibility with the helicopter, there are a number of heli-hiking options available on any of their exclusive concessions to suit all abilities and fitness levels. Please contact Yellow Dog to arrange these activities in advance. The five-hole golf course on the property allows for guests to get a few holes in after fishing. For a different kind of day trip, guests can venture 1.5 hours to Queenstown, the adrenalin capital of the world, for any number of high-octane activities, as well as fine restaurants, golf courses, wineries, and spas.
Wi-Fi is available in all rooms
How To Get There
Air New Zealand offers direct flights to Auckland, New Zealand from Los Angeles International (LAX), San Francisco International Airport (SFO), or Houston Intercontinental, departing in the evening and arriving two days later in the morning. Though the flight time is only 12 to 13 hours, you will cross the international dateline, which is why you lose one calendar day in transit. From Auckland, you will catch one of the hourly departing regional flights to Queenstown. From Queenstown, you may either hire a car or have us arrange for a representative to pick you up for a fee. If you choose to hire a car, please bear in mind that New Zealanders drive on the left-hand side of the road. The drive will take you two hours through some utterly breathtaking scenery in the south island.
Arrival and Departure Details/Times
Note that upon arrival in Auckland, you will need to pass through immigration and customs—a process that is notoriously challenging for anglers traveling with fishing gear and outdoor equipment due to the strict biosecurity regulations in New Zealand. If you would like to bring your own equipment into the country, please let us know so that we can give you the best possible information on how to do so in a way that will not result in the time-consuming fumigation or confiscation of your gear. Once you have cleared this process, you will need to proceed to the domestic terminal either by bus or by walking five minutes along the clearly marked path. Air New Zealand representatives will be standing by to assist you in checking your luggage onwards. Be aware that carry-on restrictions are tighter on regional aircraft, so you may have to check an additional bag (including your fishing rods). You can arrive at the lodge after 4:00 pm. Check-in is after 9:00 am.
Valid passport, fishing license, and proof of departure from New Zealand (return plane ticket is adequate); If the intention is to stay longer than 3 months, a visa application will need to be completed.
Yellow Dog works directly with and recommends Kanna Travel. They can assist with airline tickets, hotels, transfers and all travel logistics for every destination that we offer. Contact them at 855-739-3139 or [email protected] for more details on airfare ticketing, travel services, and trip insurance.
Cedar Lodge is considered one of the South Island’s most deluxe fly fishing destinations and has been featured in many illustrious publications (and has hosted several famous fly-fishing legends as well). The lodge is positioned in a stunning area that also happens to be an exceptionally productive trout fishery and guests can expect to stalk and spot “brownies” in the three to the six-pound range, although larger fish are not uncommon. As is the case with most fisheries in New Zealand, the expectation should be for large fish rather than large numbers of fish.
Casting distance in this fishery is secondary in importance to proper presentation and accuracy. A well-placed cast with a dry fly can induce a heart-stopping take by one of the area’s resident trophy trout, while a perfect drift with a big nymph can connect you with one of trophy fish at the bottom of a deep pool. Your guide will be a skilled instructor and will advise as to the best tactics for every given situation. He will also confer with the helicopter pilot as to the best fishing options for each day based on weather, trout behavior and angler ability. Flights in the lodge’s Robinson R-44 Raven II helicopter range from 10 to 40 minutes and is the most exhilarating way to begin a day of fishing. There are a wide array of classic freestone rivers and smaller spring creeks to explore from Cedar Lodge with the assistance of their helicopter, many of which only ever see guests from the lodge. Some of the rivers are in very rugged settings—ideal for the adventurous angler—while others are more open and require less fitness. Regardless, you will be ensconced in some of the most breathtaking scenery in New Zealand and that alone is going to be a highlight of your trip.
Boats and Equipment
Cedar Lodge is one of the only owner-operated heli-fishing lodges on the South Island of New Zealand, which gives guests terrific value when they stay here (daily helicopter flights are included in the rates!). This gives guests the opportunity to reach otherwise inaccessible waters in a fraction of the time. Cedar Lodge can provide top-end fishing gear to guests as well. The team of fishing guides at Cedar Lodge is first class—they are all professional, patient and they know the right tactics to help anglers of all skill levels have their best shot at catching “the big one”.
Remember that Yellow Dog’s services are completely free! When you book a trip with Yellow Dog, you never pay more than when you book directly with the lodge or outfitter. All prices listed below are per person, based on double occupancy, and quoted in US dollars. Trips of any length can be arranged, so please call Yellow Dog for details and custom package pricing.
Prices in $USD on a per person basis. Please note that a 4 night, 3 day stay minimum applies.
Single Angler Supplement: $575.00 per day
Peak Period (November 5, 2019 to late March 2020)
4 nights / 3 days – $5,995.00
5 nights / 4 days – $6,995.00
6 nights / 5 days – $7,995.00
7 nights / 6 days – $8,995.00
8 nights / 7 days – $9,995.00
Prices are based on shared twin accommodations and two fisherpersons per guide (though there are sometimes a limited number single spaces available rates upon request.
- Luxury Accommodation
- All meals and liquor
- Guiding services
- Daily helicopter fly-out (weather permitting)
- Complimentary top range waders, boots, rods, reels are available
What’s Not Included:
- International airfare to Auckland and domestic airfare to Queenstown
- Round-trip auto transfer from Queenstown to the Lodge
- Airport fees