Pursuing Trophy Brown Trout on the South Island
Nestled in the Owen Valley in the Nelson Lakes district of the South Island is a place where fishing has been a religion since 1948. Disciples of trout fishing travel to this fishing mecca year after year for the chance to catch one of the elusive brown trout that populate the local rivers. Owen River Lodge is the brainchild of Felix Borenstein, a world-class host, and bona fide fishing fanatic. Every detail of the lodge is centered around fishing—the lodge itself is situated in one of the finest sight-fishing brown trout in New Zealand–and the world. One thing that sets Owen River Lodge apart from the rest is that it offers access to so many different rivers, from small spring creeks to iconic freestones, without the necessity of a helicopter. In fact, there are at least 25 exceptional rivers and streams within an hour’s drive of the lodge. The lodge employs a full-time staff to cater to the experience of the non-angling guest and 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.
Owen River Lodge is a boutique 5-star specialist backcountry fishing lodge that offers relaxed luxury and exceptional service on a tranquil, 16-acre riverfront property. At the end of your day, you will be greeted by Keely, their resident golden retriever, and promptly treated to amazing food, drinks, and service that cannot be rivaled. Guests are warmly welcomed into a stylish, contemporary lodge that includes a dining room, the main room, a sitting room, a bar, a retail shop, and even a fly-tying area. With the Owen River passing just in front of the Lodge, guests can sit on the deck and watch the evening rise or actually stroll down with a rod in hand to capitalize on it before dinner!
The main lodge is separated from the six well-appointed guest cottages by herb and vegetable gardens and many peaceful sitting areas. The guest cottages feature king-sized beds (that can be split into twin beds), reverse cycle air conditioning, private verandas with views of the stunning Owen Range in the distance, and cathedral-type ceilings made from 100-year-old recycled Oregon beams. Each cottage has a safe, a mini-bar (stocked with premium New Zealand fruit juices and mineral waters), and tea and coffee-making facilities with freshly-ground beans. The staff at Owen River Lodge understands how important it is for guests to feel rested, which is why no expense has been spared in the bedrooms—they even offer a range of pillows to ensure that you get the best night of sleep possible.
Food and Beverages
Many guests say that in addition to the fantastic fishing, the meals were a major highlight of their stay at Owen River Lodge. “Pacifica Cuisine” reigns supreme in the kitchen, which is an eclectic fusion of tastes from Polynesian, European, Asian, and Maori cultures. Many of the fresh ingredients featured in each dish come from the lodge garden and were growing two minutes before they were used in the kitchen. The seafood could not possibly be fresher, as Owen River Lodge is not far from Nelson where there is a thriving sea fishing industry. With the famous Marlborough region just over the hill and many other vineyards located very close by, the lodge has an impressive list of local and international wines that will pair perfectly with your evening meal. The kitchen can also cater to special dietary requirements.
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.
There are three National Parks within a short distance of the lodge (Abel Tasman, Nelson Lakes, and Kahurangi), which makes Owen River Lodge an excellent place from which to base a number of exciting non-angling adventures. In fact, there is a team member at the lodge who is specifically committed to enriching the experience of the non-angling guest. An array of outdoor adventures can be arranged for guests wishing to explore the incredible region surrounding the property, such as golf, tennis, white water rafting, kayaking, mountain biking, jet boating, horseback riding, and caving expeditions. The hiking trails in this area are extraordinary and range from 1 to 6 days in length (there are guided and unguided options available). Skydiving and paragliding are available for adrenaline-seekers or a more sedate scenic flight in a fixed-wing aircraft or helicopter can be arranged. Nelson, just 90 minutes away, is a hub for the arts—the vibrant seaside city has many museums and art/craft stores as well as boutiques for those looking to do a bit of shopping. There are several local craft beer breweries and boutique wineries along the way, and the lodge can organize tastings and tours. The property down the road from Owen River Lodge is a working sheep station and they offer authentic farm tours to guests as well. A spa pool and massage service are available to all guests who would like to unwind in the comfort of the lodge. Should you wish to arrange any of these activities in advance of our recommendation please call the Yellow Dog office.
Wireless internet and satellite-delivered broadband are available throughout the lodge and in each of the guest cottages. There is a Notebook PC available for guest use as well.
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 daily regional flights to Nelson. Guests may opt to rent a car or we can arrange for you to be picked up at the airport by a transfer agent so that all guests may enjoy the scenic, 90-minute drive to the lodge without having to worry about watching the winding road. The cost of the transfer can be split by all guests and is $590 NZD per round trip.
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 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). Check-in is usually after 2:00 pm and check out is before 10:30, but the Lodge can try to accommodate guests who wish to arrive earlier.
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 provides airline reservations ad ticketing assistance through etcTravel Group, and a full-service airline logistics agent that can help book airline tickets, hotels, rental cars, and more. You can click here to request a quote or contact Yellow Dog for more information at 406-585-8667. etcTravel Group offers dedicated support services for all Yellow Dog clients. Service fees may apply when booking or researching tickets, and etcTravel will discuss this with you before sending quotes.
Owen River Lodge is situated in a very unique and challenging trout fishery, where the fishing can best be described as hunting with a fly rod. There are 25 pristine rivers and streams within a 90-minute drive of Owen River Lodge, many of which can be accessed either on foot or in a 4WD, making this a great destination for the discriminating angler. Furthermore, helicopters enable exploration of the most remote rivers in all of New Zealand and can often be the highlight of a fishing trip. Many of these rivers have reputations that lure in anglers from around the world, including the D’Urville, the Sabine, the Wairau, the Karamea, the Hope, and the Boyle—just to name a few. In the busy tourist season when the trout start feeling angling pressure, options are everything, and Owen River Lodge boasts more options than anybody else.
Interestingly, humans are the only natural predators of New Zealand trout and they have evolved accordingly. New Zealand’s waters are often described as being “gin clear”, which is both an advantage and a disadvantage to anglers. Of course, it helps you and your guide to spot the trout, which is the predominant method throughout the area. However, you must see the fish before the fish sees you, and therein lies the challenge that keeps anglers coming back for more. Most casting will be over medium to short distances with gentle and accurate presentations being the key to success. On any given river, the average trout size is about three to six pounds, but the fishery does produce fish in excess of ten pounds and does reward the skilled angler with fish of this caliber every season.
The team of fishing guides at Owen River Lodge are all members of the New Zealand Professional Fishing Guides Association and each has at least ten years of guiding experience (most have over 20 years). Although their guiding styles may vary, they all possess a wealth of knowledge on the fishery that will help tremendously as you spot and stalk these wary brown trout together. They each have a bloody good sense of humor, which makes the day all the more enjoyable.
Boats & Equipment
Owen River Lodge has a fine selection of fly fishing equipment for guest use at no cost and is only one of two fishing lodges in the world that has been selected by Sage to be a fully-authorized dealer. Loan equipment includes Sage 5, 6, & 7-weight rods and Sage large arbor reels, as well as Simms G3 Guide fishing boots and Simms G3 Guide Gore-Tex waders. Simms raincoats are also provided, but we do advise that you pack your own. If you wish to bring your own gear, make sure that it is clean and totally 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. Do not attempt to bring feathers into New Zealand to tie your own flies. Feel free to call Yellow Dog if you would like more information on the best flies for this area if you intend to bring your own. 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-colored to blend with the surrounding landscape.
Rates and Terms
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 New Zealand 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 minimum stay of three nights applies.
Autumn/Fall (March 22 to April 30)
4 nights/3 days – $4,245 pp double / $6,700 single
5 nights/4 days – $5,415 pp double / $8,615 single
6 nights/5 days – $6,580 pp double / $10,500 single
7 nights/6 days – $7,750 pp double / $12,435 single
Helicopter options can be added to these package rates
- Accommodation in a luxury guest cottage
- One-on-one expert guiding with a senior fishing guide
- All gourmet meals, including pre-dinner canapés, a three-course dinner, cooked English breakfast, picnic lunches
- House wine and beer
- Use of all lodge facilities, including fishing equipment
- Access fees
- Daily Laundry service
What’s Not Included:
- International airfare to Auckland and domestic airfare to Nelson
- Transportation to and from the lodge
- Optional fly-outs by helicopter
- Gratuities for guides and lodge staff
- Fishing license (can be purchased at the lodge)
- Items of a personal nature
With the exception of nursing infants, children under the age of 12 cannot be accommodated.
Owen River Lodge (South Island, New Zealand)
TERMS AND CONDITIONS – CANCELLATIONS
A deposit of 50% per person is due within 10 days of booking to hold both space and guides on all packages. No space or guides will be held without receipt of deposit. Full pre-payment is due 90 days prior to date of trip. All cancellations must be received in writing, sent to Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures, LLC. Yellow Dog strongly recommends that anglers and guests purchase travel insurance for your trip.
- For cancellations received outside of 90 days from arrival date / start of trip, a refund or trip credit will be offered minus a 25% per person cancellation fee charged by the lodge and a $100.00 per person fee charged by Yellow Dog Flyfishing.
- For cancellations received between 89 and 60 days from arrival date / start of trip, a refund or trip credit will be offered minus a 50% per person cancellation fee charged by the lodge and a $100.00 per person fee charged by Yellow Dog Flyfishing.
- For cancellations received between 59 and 45 days from arrival date / start of trip, a refund or trip credit will be offered minus a 75% per person cancellation fee charged by the lodge and a $100.00 per person fee charged by Yellow Dog Flyfishing.
- Inside of 45 days from start of trip, deposits and/or final payments are non-refundable and no credits will be issued.
Trips cancelled or shortened as a result of inclement weather and/or acts of nature including storms or due to airline delays, strikes or political unrest are not refundable. Any unused portion of these packages by guest’s choice are not refundable. If a cancelled package is resold by either the lodge or by Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures, then a full refund will be sent minus a $100.00 per person cancellation fee charged by Yellow Dog Flyfishing. Please note that fishing with and visiting this operation may require flying in helicopters. Passengers must understand and accept the risks which are inherent in and associated with such means of conveyance. Yellow Dog will not be responsible for any loss, damage or injury arising while practicing sportfishing or any other activity, or for any loss, damage or injury suffered aboard helicopter or fixed-wing aircraft. Receipt of deposit and/or final payment is acknowledgment that registrant has read and accepts the deposit, cancellation, refund and responsibility clauses for these packages. Once again, Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures strongly recommends that anglers and guests purchase travel insurance for all New Zealand packages.
Payment Terms For All Yellow Dog Trip Bookings
In order to lock in your trip reservation, we ask that you please remit payment within 10 days of receipt of invoice. For your convenience, Yellow Dog accepts on-line payments via a direct and secure ACH platform – a quick and easy way to complete your trip reservation. Note that all Yellow Dog invoices include a live link that takes you directly to the Yellow Dog ACH platform for fast and easy payment. For open and existing invoices with a remaining balance, payment reminders also include this easy link to the ACH page.
Other customary forms of payment that are accepted are checks or wire transfers. If you would like to pay in a different way or have any questions about alternate payment methods, please contact Yellow Dog at (888) 777-5060 or (406) 585-8667. We are available Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.
Beginning September 1st, 2020, Yellow Dog will apply a 3% convenience fee for all credit card transactions.
Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures Standard Forms For Payment
- ACH online payments (for US banking institutions only).
- Traditional checks (sent via mail)
- Electronic wire payments (client is responsible for any wiring fees)
*Please contact us if you prefer or require a different payment option. Convenience fees may apply for other payment methods.
**Please be aware that the ACH platform is only available for US financial institutions and bank accounts. International payments can be made via wire or with a credit card.