Two Days of NZ Trout Fishing
My visit to Owen River Lodge was a last minute addition to an Australian vacation. Time constraints limited me to two days of fishing.
What a fortunate circumstance to spend my NZ time with Felix and his team at Owen River Lodge. From the accomodations to the wonderful meals served in the lodge, the experience is first rate. The fishing is spectacular with experienced guides on staff and lots of different options nearby.
I highly recommend an Owen River Lodge adventure if you are thinking about South Island flyfishing.
Best trip we have ever had….
This was my 2nd visit to Owen River Lodge, the first being my honeymoon in 2010. On this occasion I travelled with my father, who had been seriously ill earlier this year (but fortunately is recovering well now). Hence this was a pretty special trip. I will try to keep my review simple;
The fishing: I have fly-fished all over NZ and the fishery surrounding ORL is as good as it gets in my experience. Practically every fish we caught over 5 days of fishing was a sighted fish, and there were quite a few hooked, landed and lost in that time. We fished with Paul, an outstanding and highly experienced guide who worked to our physical and fishing capabilities perfectly. Overall, the fishery is challenging but very rewarding.
The region: This is a tranquil and scenic part of NZ. The location is stunning - you will go to places on a day of fishing that you would not otherwise think to visit, but you bloody well should!
The lodge and grounds: This is wonderful, boutique accommodation built to an excellent standard and designed in absolute harmony with its superb surroundings. The gardens are beautiful. Wilderness luxury at its best.
The food: Breakfast is whatever you desire. Each dinner we had was as good as (and often better) than the food you would find in Sydney’s finest restaurants. The lunches on the riverside are equally good in their own way. Thanks Ryan!
The host: Felix is 10 out of 10 as a host. I sincerely thank him for everything he did to make our trip a great success. He understood our needs in advance, got everything right and didn’t miss a single detail.
The company: Great conversations with fellow guests over dinner is standard. A real highlight.
My dad and I have had many fishing trips over the years but our trip to ORL was easily the best we have had and a wonderful experience to share. A special time that we won’t be forgetting (but hopefully will be repeating) in a hurry!
Thanks again, Felix. With a bit of luck we will see you same time next year.
Leading American fly fishing magazine - Fly Fisherman has published a feature article about the unique fly fishing opportunities that New Zealand provides.
Having been at a wide variety of lodges on the south and north island there isn’t a lodge that compares…if…and I do mean if you are looking to tackle big bruiser browns.
There are a lot of NZ lodges with breathtaking scenery, pampering, culinary artist, shopping, easy 4lb rainbows, heli landing pads and “Orvis Endorsements”. But at the end of the day there is one lodge that is maniacally focused on delivering your fishing experience—Owen River Lodge. So when friends ask where to go I tell them all if they can only pick one place make it here.
This coming year will be my 5th stay in the past 4 years. My biggest NZ brown was caught with Owen River last year. Felix, unlike many other owners, knows fly-fishing for big trout and can walk the talk when it comes to putting the right guide with the right client. No hype, no frilly extras just serious fly fishing at its best!
We are honoured to have been awarded a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence for 2014. This is the 5th year in a row we have been awarded TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence and I would like to thank all of our wonderful guests that have taken the time to write a TripAdvisor review!
Felix has so generously hosted the South Island Casting for Recovery(CFR) weekend retreat for breast cancer survivors for the last 2 years.
This is an amazing gesture and is the much needed luxury for 10 deserving cancer survivors. Just to see how these women relax at Owen River Lodge is astounding. Two days of great food, company and scenery (and fishing too) has made a huge impact and life-long memories for us all.
A huge thank you Felix from Casting for Recovery New Zealand.
“I am one of the women who enjoyed Felix’s hospitality on the Casting for Recovery weekend. Owen River Lodge is a peaceful haven in a beautiful location, but its also fun, thanks to Felix’s lively personality. My room was spacious and comfortable, the food was amazing and the host really special. The grounds are really nice and they match the locality beautifully. My fishing guide was very patient (he needed to be) but also really helpful and generous with his tips and tuition. I hope to return to Owen River Lodge one day, to fish the river and eat the food, relax in the spa and to just sit and be in such a special place.
Tip: All the rooms are similar and lovely, but room 6 doesn’t get people walking by your window.”
We stayed for my partner’s 50th birthday and our visit could not have been more perfect. Each cottage suite is immaculate, comfortable and spacious, with a shower to die for.
The view from your veranda is truly breathtaking and the lodge has its own access to the river, either to fish or to sit in the sun reading on the deck with the lodge labrador Keely as I did.
What makes the lodge truly special is Felix’s genuine warm hospitality. Nothing is too much to ask, including supplying a very special fish shaped birthday cake! The atmosphere is very relaxed and everything is geared around making your stay as wonderful as possible. For us, the food is always very important and we were certainly not disappointed. Chef Ryan is definitely destined for greatness! A true gem and I wish we could have stayed longer.
“After many years of trying to get to Owen River Lodge - 2014 was to be the year for us.
What a superb way to celebrate our wedding anniversary with my super keen fishing husband. Felix & the team bend over backwards to ensure your stay is everything you dreamed of & more. The accommodation is beautiful, with the luxurious cottages, peace & serenity of the setting & sensational food. We highly recommend you make a point of staying at this Fabulous destination - I know we will be returning again real soon.”
Our stay at the Lodge was truly the highlight of our two weeks in New Zealand. The experience was everything we had hoped for and so much more.
The accommodations were first class and Chef Ryan is amazingly accomplished. Everything was simply delicious thanks to Chef Ryan. His fabulous creations only accentuated the total experience! Aaron was the perfect guide for Krista and I. He pushed us physically, (which we both needed!) and challenged us to improve our casting through his tuition. The Wairaue, the Mauria and the Owen are all stunningly beautiful, each in its own way. Aaron consistently put us in position to capitalize on each situation and we did. We are thrilled every time we look through the photos and the GoPro footage we shot of all the magnificent Trout we caught and released. Alas, so many rivers….so little time.
Felix, is the consummate host; warm, genuine and welcoming. Hospitality is definitely his middle name. The entire experience is a tribute to him and his vision.
Firstly we are return guests to Felix’s fabulous Owen River Lodge (after 5 years we are sorry to say) and by God he and his great team did not disappoint!
We were welcomed with open arms including Keely the wonder lodge dog. From the exquisite wine list to the best 5 star quality food (thanks Ryan and Jo) to the best brown trout fishing in the world - this is IT.
Felix has gathered an outstanding team around him to provide the very best for fishing and relaxation. Our guide Paul was extraordinary - so very friendly and shared his expertise with such generosity and fun. But Felix’s secret weapon is Nikki - the hostess with the mostest - and probably Felix’s finest catch of his lifetime. Please go and fish, eat and enjoy the comfort and eclectic guests from around the world. We really hope that we’ll come back again very soon to our fishing heaven and home away from home. As keen fly fishers whose skills don’t quite match the passion, we found the fishing challenging but highly rewarding.
These fish don’t surrender easily, but when you get everything right and get to hold one of these magnificent wild browns for a moment, the feeling is unrivalled. Unless you’ve fished in New Zealand before, forget much of what you’ve learnt fishing North/South American and European rivers. You’re going to be fishing super long leaders and tiny flies in gin clear water to wily fish. The
best 4 tips we can give you are: 1) Trust your guide - they’re really good!; 2) Practice your accuracy casting, presentation and turning over long leaders between 20’ and 40’ before you come; 3) Invest in a really good pair of polarized sunglasses; and 4) TRUST YOUR GUIDE even if you don’t agree with their call. Follow those simple rules and you will definitely catch more fish. We caught about 12 fish in our three days up to around 61/4lbs, and we lost or frightened off at least twice that many.
If you’re contemplating a trip to Owen River Lodge, do yourself a favour, stop reading reviews and just book it - you won’t be disappointed.
We are thrilled to have been awarded the Fodors Editor’s Choice award for each of the previous 3 years- 2013, 2012 & 2011
“One of the classiest of several top fly-fishing lodges in this region,the six beautifully appointed cottages of Owen River Lodge, each fronted by sheltered verandas, overlook the Owen River valley. From the main dining room you can look across the valley to a large granite escarpment with native forest. Outside, the rush of the river is outdone only by the sometimes-overwhelming chorus of native birds.
Host Felix Borenstein purpose-built this little piece of paradise. He is a die-hard fly fisherman who has a strong passion for throwing furry little feathered flies into the sublime reaches of the area’s many trout rivers. He delights in the fact that much of the fishing here is sighted fishing and stalking, but also catch-and-release to preserve the stock.
From the lodge you can access 25 fishing rivers within a 90-minute drive, plus many more by helicopter. Back at the lodge you can relax in the cozy lounge, or wander the landcsaped grounds, including the massive vegetable garden that supplies much of what arrives on your dining room table (dinner and breakfast is inclusive).”
Felix strives to operate a fly fishing lodge among the ranks of the world’s finest—and succeeds in doing so. His careful attention to detail ensures that every aspect of the guest experience exceeds expectation. The guides are excellent, which (for a novice like me) certainly makes the difference between getting skunked and landing a 7lb, 30” brown.
ORL is set in an idyllic valley. When combined with the superb, 3-course dinners prepared by Ryan nightly, it is a perfect respite after a rewarding day on the region’s beautiful rivers. Owen River Lodge deserves the unanimous 5-star ratings given by tripadvisor reviewers. I recommend it highly!
My family and I toured New Zealand’s North Island as well as the South Island for several weeks over the Christmas holidays experiencing many highlights.
After my family returned back to the States, leaving me with some quality fishing time, I stopped in at the Owen River Lodge which turned out to be icing on my vacation cake. Felix, the consummate host, and his superb chef Ryan, provided a Kiwi experience with flourish and panache. The ORL experience was extremely comfortable with unwavering attention to detail making the grounds, cottage, lodge, and food impeccable.
Being on my own, Felix’s engaging personality, and his interaction with the guests created a very amiable and welcoming experience. Felix paired me with a guide whose personality and skill matched perfectly with the experience I was seeking. Since I only fish with split cane rods, both my guide and Felix were accommodating without judgment. I originally embarked on a “trip of a live time”. However, something’s are just too good to experience only once………
Until next time, Cheers to Felix, his staff, and the ORL.
Australian journalists and fly fishing aficionados Mike Gee & Georgina Swan blog about their adventures at Owen River Lodge.
Read all about it here: