Fishing-Focused Lodge on New Zealand's South Island
If you’ve ever seen a photo of a New Zealand brown trout of jaw-dropping proportions, there is a good chance it may have come from this part of the South Island. North Canterbury is a brown trout nirvana of sorts, boasting one of the most remarkable populations of trophy brown trout in the country, and Riverview Lodge has cleverly situated itself on a high plateau overlooking their kingdom. Anglers are often rewarded for exacting technique, especially if you manage to pull off that perfect first cast. The lodge enjoys access to a wide variety of rivers and streams throughout a diverse geographical region (15 rivers within an hour’s drive, to be precise), and this affords anglers the flexibility to find fishable water no matter the conditions. You will find abundant opportunities to cast to fish that average 5 to 7 pounds, and trophy browns over 10 pounds are caught each season. While catching them can be challenging, the immense satisfaction of bringing just one of them to hand is what brings anglers back to this classic fishing lodge year after year. After a long day on the water, there is nothing better than returning to the lodge to enjoy a cold beer and the great comfort and company that Riverview Lodge has been providing for over 35 years.
With over 35 years of experience under their belts, owners John and Robin Gemmell certainly know a thing or two about how to run a serious fishing lodge. If you are interested in longer fishing days, chasing some of the largest brown trout on offer in New Zealand, and less interested in the trappings of a luxury fishing lodge, this is the ideal destination for you. The lodge has several large lounge areas, one of which includes a stone fireplace and an open bar; another features a pool table. The rooms are clean and very comfortable with modern bathrooms and individual porches that look out over a fertile valley that cradles the braided branches of the Waiau River. Sleep comes easily after a full day on the water followed by a gourmet meal back at the lodge. Although the accommodations here are modest in comparison to other luxury lodges around New Zealand, the warm and welcoming service is truly unbeatable—you will be hard-pressed to find a place that offers more authentic kiwi hospitality than Riverview Lodge. We guarantee that you will feel completely at home under the care of John, Robin, and their incredible staff. You will also have a difficult time leaving after a few days in pursuit of the big resident brown trout in the area. Please note that the lodge can be booked exclusively for small groups of anglers.
Food and Beverages
Guests will enjoy a full, cooked breakfast each morning before heading out to the water. As most of the fishing is accessed on foot, a fisherman’s picnic lunch is provided to eat when desired. For non-anglers, Robin is always happy to organize lunch and wine tasting at the nearby Marble Point Winery or in the Alpine spa village of Hanmer Springs. Dinner is served as three courses in either the indoor dining room or outside on nice evenings under a canopy of grapevines in the backyard. Enjoy a nice selection of house wines and beers in the evenings and please note that there is an extra charge for spirits and liquor. The lodge has a brick pizza oven as well as an extensive herb and vegetable garden that imparts great flavors into each of the unique kiwi dishes served at dinner. The head chef is one of New Zealand’s rising talents and she will delight every palate with her inventive and delicious creations. Following each evening’s family-style feast, guests can always find comfort in the knowledge that they will be able to “burn it off” the following day on the river.
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.
Being just a few kilometers away from the small, yet popular town of Hanmer Springs, guests will find an impressive number of activities for the non-angler staying at Riverview Lodge. Robin is always eager to organize and take guests to local wineries for lunch and tastings as well as to any of the area’s hiking trails (ranging from easy to difficult). There is truly something for everyone here with action-packed activities such as horseback riding, bungy jumping, jet-boating, and whitewater rafting as well as more relaxing pursuits—notably, the famous spa and thermal pools of Hanmer Springs, which provides professional massages, facials, manicures and more. For both anglers and non-anglers, this is a terrific way to wind down at the end of the day in what is truly a world-class relaxation destination. Day trips to the charming oceanside town of Kaikoura are very popular with guests who want to see the abundant whale, dolphin, and seal populations that exist there. Riverview truly offers outstanding opportunities for those less inclined to fish and is, therefore, a terrific pick for couples and families with mixed interests.
It should be noted that Riverview Lodge offers guided bird hunting for waterfowl, including Mallards, Spoonbills, Paradise Ducks, New Zealand Greys, Canada Geese, and Black Swans. John has been bird hunting his whole life and has access to water on approximately 20 different properties. The lodge provides 12 and 20 gauge Beretta shotguns for guests and has contacts with reputable taxidermists in Christchurch. Please contact Yellow Dog if you would like to arrange a bird hunt at Riverview Lodge.
Wireless internet and satellite-delivered broadband are available throughout the lodge and in each of the guest rooms.
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 Christchurch. 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. The cost of the transfer can be split by all guests and is $450 NZD each way. If you elect to drive, be mindful of the fact that New Zealanders drive on the left-hand side of the road.
Arrival and Departure Details/Times
Note that upon arrival in Auckland, you will need to pass through immigration and customs, which is simple if you declare your gear. 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 a delay. Once you have cleared this process, you will need to proceed to the domestic terminal either by bus or by walking ten minutes along the clearly marked path. Air New Zealand representatives will be standing by to assist you in checking your luggage on to Christchurch. 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 license (if you have purchased it online), 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.
There is little doubt that Riverview Lodge is situated in what is quite possibly the best trophy brown trout fishery in New Zealand. The unique location of the lodge and a great number of fishable rivers within driving distance gives guests the option to move to different catchments in the event of rain or foul weather and this flexibility is critical—especially when guests only have a few days at the lodge. This area is especially notable for its huge brown trout, but they grow huge for a reason: they are extremely smart.
We strongly advise that guests try to arrive at Riverview Lodge earlier in the season. November allows anglers to fish to trout that are hungry and less educated (having not been fished to all winter). December and January are characterized by sensational dry fly action and trout will readily come up to eat well-presented flies off the surface of the water. As the season progresses, the trout do become much warier or artificial flies, so casting precision becomes imperative. Fortunately, the lodge does have several private drive-in access points which put guests at an advantage when the fishing gets tough.
Riverview Lodge has a fantastic line up of guides, many of whom have spent most of their lives fishing and guiding in the area. They can not only spot every fish in the river, but they can also almost guess the size of each fish. The average fish in the area weighs 5 to 7 pounds, but you know that when the guide comes to a very sudden stop and crouches down low, there is probably a much larger fish holding in the river below!
Boats and Equipment
Riverview Lodge can provide all rods, reels, waders, and boots, though they advise that if you are confident with your own gear, you should go ahead and bring it with you. Please ensure that your boots are not felt-soled and that all of your equipment has been thoroughly cleaned prior to your trip. The guides will provide all terminal tackle, including flies, but feel free to pack a few of your own favorite trout flies. You will want to have 5 wt. and 6 wt. rods and possibly a spool of the heavier fly line for the windy days. Make sure that your lines are dark olive/willow or taupe colored and that your leaders are at least 12’ long. Wet wading is the predominant method until about mid-March, but it’s truly a matter of personal preference. Please call us if you have questions as to what to bring on your trip to Riverview Lodge.
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 US dollars. Trips of any length can be arranged, so please call Yellow Dog for details and custom package pricing.
Rates listed below are in $NZD
Autumn/Fall (March 15 to March 31)
3 nights/2 days – Double Occupancy = $4770 – Single Occupancy = $3675
4 nights / 3 days – Double Occupancy = $6625 – Single Occupancy = $5165
5 nights / 4 days – Double Occupancy = $8480 – Single Occupancy = $6655
6 nights / 5 days – Double Occupancy = $10,335 – Single Occupancy = $8145
7 nights / 6 days – Double Occupancy = $12,190 – Single Occupancy -= $9635
Shoulder season prices are based on – double occupancy @ $1060pn ($530pn) and single occupancy @ $695pn and Guiding @ $795 per day.
- Accommodation in a lodge room (double or single occupancy)
- Fully guided fishing and all-access fees
- All meals, including cooked breakfast, picnic lunches, appetizers, and three-course dinner
- House wine and beer
- Transfers to the river and to activities in the area
- All fishing gear (waders, boots, rods, reels, and terminal tackle)
- Laundry service
What’s Not Included:
- International airfare to Auckland and domestic airfare to Christchurch
- Transportation to and from the lodge (can be arranged through Yellow Dog)
- Optional fly-outs by fixed-wing aircraft or helicopter
- Activities additional to fishing
- Fishing license (can be purchased at the lodge or online at www.fishandgame.org.nz – specify North Canterbury as your district)
- Spirits/liquor from the bar
- Items of a personal nature
Riverview Lodge (South Island, New Zealand)
TERMS AND CONDITIONS – CANCELLATIONS
A non-refundable 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. Since deposits and payments are non-refundable regardless of reason, Yellow Dog strongly recommends that anglers and guests purchase travel insurance for your trip. 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. For that to happen, however, all cancellations must be received in writing, sent to Yellow Dog Flyfishing Adventures, LLC. No refunds can be made for unused arrangements or fishing time lost due to inclement weather. In no event will the lodge or Yellow Dog be responsible for any cancellation of services or operations due to inclement weather, any event of force majeure, airline delays, missed travel connections, or any other reason beyond the control of the operator. If your flights are late and connections are missed, the operator is not responsible for alternative travel arrangements including flights, hotels, meals and any other expenses incurred. 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 2% convenience fee for all American Express credit card transactions, and a 3% convenience fee for Visa, MasterCard and Discover 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.
“You’ve again provided the way for me to experience some truly incredible fly fishing and people of New Zealand! Fishing was beautiful, challenging, and epic.
When genuine people and hospitality cross with honest-to-god great fishing that makes for a TEN!”
– Mark F.