When most people reflect on their time at Stonefly Lodge, they think about the outstanding fishing on many different rivers in many stunning locales as well as the intimate aura of the handsome lodge. And then they think about the warm hospitality they received from owners John and Kate Kerr and that is what makes them scan their calendars for the next available dates for a return trip to this exceptional fishing lodge on the banks of the Motueka River. John and Kate scouted the South Island for years in search of the perfect area in which to construct Stonefly Lodge, but when they arrived to this area, they knew their search had ended. With three major National Parks (Abel Tasman, Kahurangi and Nelson Lakes) as well as dozens of blue ribbon brown trout rivers within an hour’s drive of the lodge, why should anyone look any further? Furthermore, Nelson records more days of sunshine than any other part of New Zealand, which makes for ideal trout-spotting conditions. This purpose-built stone and timber building has been designed specifically with the interests of the discriminating angler in mind, which makes Stonefly Lodge an important stopover on any well-considered New Zealand fishing itinerary. The hospitality you will receive here is just the gravy.
LOCATION: Nelson Lakes Region (South Island)
SEASON: October through late April. The lower Motueka River fishes year-round
CAPACITY: Maximum of 8 anglers per week
TARGET SPECIES: Mostly brown trout and some rainbow trout
CLOSEST MAJOR AIR HUB: Nelson Airport (NSN)
CONTACT US FOR MORE INFO 888-777-5060 INTL 01-1-406-585-8667 info [at] yellowdogflyfishing [dot] com
The main lodge serves as John and Kate’s personal home as well as the accommodation for visitors. Guests stay upstairs in any of the four comfortable and well-appointed bedrooms, each of which has a deluxe ensuite with heated towel rails and a private balcony overlooking the Motueka River and Mt. Arthur Range in the distance. The beds are outfitted with top-quality linen sheets and duvets and are therefore a delight at the end of a long day. They are super kings but can be split into two single beds. The lounge at the top of the stairs has a fly tying area and chess table with cozy leather chairs. The downstairs area includes the kitchen and dining area, a sunken sitting area, a deck, and a lounge that features a bar, a pool table, a library and additional sitting around a magnificent double-sided riverstone fireplace. The clever design of the lodge imbues the great space with a sense of intimacy and ambiance; dinners are prepared in the open kitchen and then served family style at the dining table next to the fire. A running slideshow of guest photos plays at the bar, which encourages many visitors to recount their own stories from the day over drinks next to the fireplace. Private dining opportunities can easily be catered for, including breakfast on the private deck of your room. The lodge can also be booked out for exclusive use by groups or large families.
Food and Beverages
One of the big perks of staying in a person’s home is that it makes you feel right at home. Nothing conveys that feeling more strongly at Stonefly Lodge than its open-concept kitchen. Guests often pull up a bar stool and chat with Head Chef Dean Sincock as he masterfully prepares a double-baked Goats Cheese Souffle or something equally delicious. Dean has been cooking around the world for over 20 years and brings exceptional flavours and great stories to the table, using only the freshest incredients (many of which come straight out of the garden outside). The “Matai Bar” is fully stocked with a wide variety of wines and spirits to pair with the evening meal. Special diets can be easily accommodated.
Typical Length of Stay
Trips of any length can be arranged, although there is a three night minimum stay requirement. There is no set change-over day, so guests can arrive and depart on any day of the week.
Stonefly Lodge could not have been built in a more ideal location: less than one hour’s drive from three incredible National Parks, the charming city of Nelson, and several local craft beer breweries and boutique wineries. The Marlborough wine region, which put New Zealand on the map for wine enthusiasts around the world, is only slightly farther away and a popular day trip option for guests. There is an abundance of activites available off site for the non-angling guest, including white water rafting, 4-wheeling tours, hunting, cycling, horseback riding, art tours, and golf (there are five country clubs within an hour’s drive of the lodge). Like many other lodges in New Zealand, Stonefly has a relationship with a local helicopter company and therefore offers a number of heli-assisted activities, from biking and hiking to simple (yet mind-blowing) scenic tours from the sky. On site, be sure to check out the hobby farm, which includes a number of farm animals and a produce garden, which supplies the kitchen with many fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs.
Guided hikes are also available in the National Parks nearby. Abel Tasman National Park is the most visited of all of all National Parks in New Zealand due to its stunning integration of turquoise seawater, white sand beaches, rocky outcroppings, and lush native bush and the many options for recreation within its borders. You may do any combination of the following: hiking, kayaking, boat cruising, and swimming with seals. Nelson Lakes National Park and Kahurangi National Park offer boundless opportunities for exploration on their diverse and hiking trails (plus backcountry huts for overnight trips). Naturally, after a long day spent outdoors, you may simply opt for a relaxing massage in the privacy of your room (available by request). Should you wish to arrange any of these activities in advance—our recommendation—please call the Yellow Dog office to help you make the most of your time at Stonefly Lodge.
The entire lodge has wireless internet and iPads are available to guests who would like in-house entertainment in their rooms.
Due to its proximity to many different catchment systems, Stonefly Lodge enjoys unbelievable flexibility in the day-to-day selection of a best fishing option. Flow rates, weather patterns and time of year are all factors that determine these options, but having so many nearby rivers to choose from affords guests a number of backup plans when those factors don’t line up for Plan A. Some fantastic rivers can be easily accessed within minutes on foot or by 4WD, such as the Motueka, the Wangapeka and the Baton. Rivers further afield throughout Nelson Lakes National Park—such as the Travers and the Wairau—are also the stuff of legend. Helicopters can also take guests from the lawn of the lodge back into Kahurangi National Park, which is home to many remote and remarkable rivers such as the Mokihinui and the storied tributaries of the Karamea river system (Ugly, Beautiful, Roaring Lion, Crow, and Leslie). These rivers tend to require a higher level of fitness and more casting accuracy, but the rewards are well worth the effort. Overnight packages can be arranged, and these involve hiking to untouched high country waters and stays in the quaint DOC (Department of Conservation) huts throughout the backcountry—an absolutely spectacular experience for the adventurous angler.
Regardless of the river, guests can expect crystal clear waters and big—albeit wily—brown trout. The average catch size of brown trout in this region is three to five pounds, with eight pound catches being quite common, and 10+ pound catches not unheard of. Early season fishing is characterized by less spooky fish and weighted nymphs, while November and December start to see dropping water levels and increased clarity as well as productive dry fly hatches. Into January and February, more anglers descend upon the easily accessed rivers to throw cicada patterns—a staple in the trout’s diet during this time of year—and the browns start to become more wary. This is a great time to fish the more remote rivers that Stonefly Lodge permits access to. The late summer months are a great time to catch trophy trout, but they are the least forgiving during these times, so delicate presentations of small nymphs and dries are imperative. The Motueka River, right in front of the lodge, can be fished year-round.
Stonefly Lodge contracts some of the finest fishing guides around and they are a critical resource in the pursuit of the elusive local brown trout. Not only are the guides extremely knowledgeable members of the New Zealand Professional Guides Association, they are experts at delivering an experience that is both entertaining and rewarding based on the skill-level each angler.
Boats and Equipment
Stonefly Lodge can outfit you with gear from their fully stocked collection of top-quality products, including Simms waders and boots and Sage fly rods (9 ft., 5-6 wt.) and reels. If you wish to bring your own gear, make sure that it is clean and dry so that you don’t get held up in NZ Customs. The guides will have the best knowledge of effective flies for each given day and time of year and these are provided at no extra cost. Feel free to call us if you would like to more information on the best flies for this area if you intend to bring your own. Due to the cunning nature of these trout, you will be fishing with leaders between 9 and 18 feet long. Note that felt-soled boots are banned in New Zealand as of 2008, so bring studded rubber boots if you bring boots at all. Due to the variable nature of New Zealand weather, we advise that you bring lots of layers—and that your clothing be dark or dull coloured to prevent the fish from seeing you before you see them. Polarised sunglasses, strong sunscreen, and insect repellent, and cameras should not be left behind.
How to get there
Air New Zealand offers direct flights to Auckland, New Zealand from Los Angeles International (LAX) or San Francisco International Airport (SFO), 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 daily regional flights to Nelson. Guests may opt to be picked up at the airport by a Stonefly Lodge representative for a fee or there is the option to rent a car and make the drive through the vineyards of the Moutere Hills at your own pace (the lodge is 50 minutes from Nelson by car). Helicopter transfers can also be arranged in advance. If you choose to hire a car, please be mindful of the fact that New Zealanders drive on the left-hand side of the road. Check in is from 2:00pm onwards and check out is after 10:00am.
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 travelling 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 on to Nelson. Be aware that carry-on restrictions are tighter on regional aircraft, so you may have to check an additional bag (including your fishing rods).
Valid passport, fishing licence, 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 offers a full in-house travel and reservations system, and we can assist with airline tickets, hotels, transfers, and all travel logistics for every destination that we offer. Contact us at 888-777-5060 or travel [at] yellowdogflyfishing [dot] com for more details on airfare ticketing, travel services and trip insurace.
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 $NZD. Note that a two night minimum stay applies.
Peak Period (December 15, 2015 to March 14, 2016)
4 nights/3 days - $3600 pp twin share, $5265 pp single
5 nights/4 days - $4600 pp twin share, $6765 pp single
6 nights/5 days - $5600 pp twin share, $8260 pp single
7 nights/6 days - $6500 pp twin share, $9750 pp single
Shoulder Period (October14 to December 14, 2015 & March 15 to April 30, 2016)
4 nights/3 days - $3000 pp twin share, $5150 pp single
5 nights/4 days - $4000 pp twin share, $6275 pp single
6 nights/5 days - $4750 pp twin share, $7660 pp single
7 nights/6 days - $5500 pp twin share, $9055 pp single
Helifishing cost is determined by the amount of time the helicopter will take to get to the remote site and the number of people on the flight, so the price can only be worked out on an individual cost basis when booked.
- Luxury accommodation
- Either twin/double or single basis
- Three course gourmet dinner (plus canapes), lunch when fishing, and full continental & cooked breakfast
- Fishing guide each day
- Complimentary top range waders, boots, rods, reels are available
WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED
- International airfare to Auckland and domestic airfare to Nelson
- Transfers from Nelson regional airport to the lodge
“My son and I chose Stonefly Lodge for our New Zealand fly fishing trip in April of 2015. Simply put - this place is magnificent. Five star in every category. The owners/hosts, John and Kate Kerr are true professionals in the field of hospitality. The impressive lodge, situated above the bank of the Motueka River, is thoughtfully appointed and extremely comfortable. Beautiful rooms and views. The food prepared by Chef Dean was truly impressive every single day. As for the fishing - utterly superb!! These fish are big. So many world class brown trout fishing options each day. Our guide, Richard, was perhaps the best gentleman I have ever fished with. This place is among New Zealand's finest. Highly recommended.”
-Ben M., Phoenix, AZ