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:
Undoubtedly the best week
“I am new to fly fishing but my husband convinced me that this would be the best time ever. So I thought Oh OK I will tag along and make the most of it.
On arrival we were warmly greeted by Felix our host and owner and taken to our lodge - it was truly a wonderful surprise so well fitted out, cozy and the amenities were just perfect right down to the great freshly ground coffee and home made biscuits.
Ill talk about the food first… Breakfast yum and home cooked to your liking - dinners were to die for…. we stayed a week and every night there was a different sumptuous 3 course meal utilizing local produce, beautifully plated and we were never hungry. Lets not forget the wines - an extensive wine list with many local wines. Ryan and Jo truly are masters in their field of cooking and presentation.
Now about the fishing - the lodge has available any gear that you may not have brought with you and we had a personal guide for our time (Peter) who was extremely patient and so very knowledgeable, he took us to some spectacular places that were pristine and boy could he spot a fish. We had such a wonderful time and yes we did catch trout the biggest being nearly 6 pounds.
The lodge is situated in gorgeous surrounds and a river runs below beckoning one to stroll around this lovely countryside. If you are looking for a beautiful retreat even if you don’t fish make it your base and you will not regret it.”
We had stayed at Owen River Lodge several years back and enjoyed it immensely, so had very high expectations for the return visit. We were not disappointed in any way.
Our host Felix ensured we slid quickly into relax mode and stayed there. The room is well set up. The bed is firm but comfortable, as I like it. No problems sleeping well. The shower, particularly after a hard day chasing trout, is excellent. Hard to leave, but then dinner calls. Our chef, Ryan, managed a different gourmet meal each of the six evenings we were there. None disappointed, and I am known for my aptitude to enjoy good food and wine. The wine list is quite large enough with an emphasis on quality NZ product. Breakfast each morning was tasty and nourishing enough to get us through to the packed lunch. The homemade muesli was a particular favourite, including ginger and macadamia, although I believe the recipe is variable. Our fishing guide, Aaron, took us to some of the most beautiful streams I have ever seen….and then found fish in them.
Fantastic! And he is a very patient man, dealing with anglers who started with very low competence levels! The lodge is superbly located with many fishable waters within quite a short drive. Thanks, Felix. I hope hope this was just the first return visit.
I have just spent 6 nights at Owen River Lodge. I went there with high hopes & my experience exceeded my wildest expectations.
The accommodation was first class with service to match. Felix’s hospitality was fantastic, I can’t speak highly enough. The guests are the centre of attention at all times & all the staff make the stay at the lodge a trip to remember. The fishing was out of this world, so many quality waters within 1 hour of the lodge & the guides were sensational. I was there at Easter & left it late to book a guide on Easter Saturday so Felix personally took me out for a day out of his
own good will.
The food was out of this world, I requested vegetarian meals & was catered for perfectly. Ryan the head chef is world class & it was wonderful to sit down to such fine dining at the end of a great days fishing. If you get the chance, do yourself a favour & head to Owen river for a visit, you won’t be disappointed!
My fourth stay at Owen River Lodge-well that’s a review in itself, almost no more needs to be said. The lodge is as elegant as ever, Autumnal colors, the effervescent Owen River and dramatic landscapes frame this luxurious gem beautifully. After 3 intense months at work back in Melbourne my 6 day stay was just what I needed, rest and relaxation ? Well I should say relaxing when back at the lodge, the attention to detail, the caring the superb cuisine , the extensive wine list , the warmth and humor ....oh it is a joy staying here !
On the Rivers however it would be inaccurate to say that it is relaxing. Heart pounding is more like it. Spotting large trout in crystal clear water knowing full well that failure or success is a 1/3 of a fly line away , a 15 foot leader and a miniscule fly imitating the
menu of the day. You live and die by your stealth , accuracy and nerve. Some fantastic fish came to hand and quickly released. The Rivers at this time of the year (April) can be low and clear making spotting possible in pretty much all conditions. The weather on this trip was mild with the occasional hatch of little brown and blue duns bringing some monster browns to the surface. (Tip) The Rivers were almost exclusive to us.(Tip 2) there are so many glorious rivers a very short drive away. Your expert guide will consider all factors such as flow, weather (many micro climates) and most importantly trout activity and will take you to rivers that offer the best fishing conditions and opportunities.
Back at the lodge of an evening your favorite drink emerges before you have even thought about it and the pre dinner canapés’ are a delight. Other guests gather and fishing stories are exchanged. The agony and the ecstasies of the day are relived vividly
and in typical fly-fishing detail. Michael a returning ORL guest is in his 70s. A 7.5 pounder , a 6 pounder few 4.5 pounders were his efforts for the day. Well fished and expertly guided. A couple from Melbourne, its only their second foray into Fly Fishing , they each caught almost identical 5 pounders amongst many opportunities. What an amazing effort.
Conversation is soon transported to the elegant dining room (views to die for) by the announcement that dinner is served. White bait fritters accompanied by a subtle aioli and the chefs own salsa were divine. In fact the fritters were so good, so beautifully
presented that our main had to be delayed as the guests pleaded for a second helping (which was prepared and cooked from scratch). The Pork Belly main was sublime. All the flavor, richness and contrast of textures but some how delicate and subtle. Desert, well I am not a desert aficionado and happily settled for the chefs non dairy treats he especially prepared for me, but I could not help but be a little envious of the mini works of art that the other guests enjoyed. Elegant, luxurious but above all seductive.
Each night the cuisine exceeded expectations. In fact , Owen River Lodge, the superb accommodation, the fishing and Felix all exceeded expectation! Thanks for a fantastic stay Felix and see you next season.
If you are planning a fishing trip to New Zealand, the Owen River Lodge is a must.
For a long time, I have planned to visit the beautiful country of New Zealand. My son and I love to fly fish and did our homework before traveling to New Zealand in the last two weeks March, 2013; the Owen River Lodge was recommended to us for an excellent fishing venue. We traveled/fished the South Island for two weeks and purposely left the last week for the Owen River Lodge.
Our stay at the Lodge was perfect; Felix and all the Lodge staff made us feel at home, accommodations were picture-perfect overlooking the Owen River, dinning (chef selections and socialization with other guests) was wonderful.
Our fly fishing guide (Paul) is a professional. On the first day he listened; because of physical limitations (my bad knees) he selected fishing locations that were accommodating to my needs. And at locations, he made sure there were no difficulties crossing rivers. Most importantly, Paul put us on big brown trout and very effectively taught us new fishing techniques necessary for catching the feisty New Zealand brown trout. The Owen River Lodge gave us a perfect New Zealand fishing experience.
Both of us have gone back to the USA, my son back to North Carolina and I to Virginia, with photographs of big brown trout caught in the Owens River region and thankful to Felix, the Owen River Lodge staff and Paul for our bucket full of memories
Nelson Mail front page article about famous English cricketer and angler Sir Ian Botham, and his stay at Owen River Lodge.
Our decision to go fly-fishing in New Zealand was the easy part. Deciding on where to stay was a lot harder.
After a few months of research, we narrowed our selection down to three lodges in the South Island, and finally made the decision to stay at Owen River Lodge based on a gut feeling. The reviews sounded like the type of experiences we were after, the food reviews were outstanding and we could imagine ourselves in those pictures sitting out on the veranda drinking a nice cold beer after a long day of fishing. We have since stayed at the Lodge twice.
The first day of our (second) trip could have easily ended with the wife in tears. Due to Cyclone Evan, our flight was delayed and as a result we had a 30 hour stay over in Wellington. Having never been to Wellington before, we were flying blind a bit on where to stay and what to do. The missus rang Felix to let him know we had been delayed and to cancel the shuttle bus. Felix rang back with a hotel reservation, names of restaurants, and a list of things to do in Wellington the next day. That gut feeling was working out just fine.
The lodge looks like a family home from the road, complete with lush gardens and a white Labrador. The accommodation cottages are separate from the main lodge, which gives you a sense of your own space and privacy and a sensational view of the valley.
The accommodation was perfect for the two of us. Comfortable chairs inside and outside, lots of flying fishing magazines to read before bed time, heated towel racks (luxury!), a big bed and a ‘three bears’ selection of pillows - soft, medium and firm.
The fishing experience is hard to put into words, but at the end of the day it has made us both better fly-fishers. We were fishing at the tail end of a cyclone so the fishing was difficult and the weather challenging. Our guide, Boris, was exceptional. His knowledge of the rivers and years of experience, combined with his great sense of humour made our fishing days memorable and invaluable. Whilst we didn’t catch a lot of fish on the trip, we have applied the lessons learnt and are catching more fish back home.
Believe what you read about the food. After the first night we planned to take photos of the three course dinners. We didn’t take one photo during our entire stay, because the food was so good we couldn’t stop eating it! The other guests provided another layer of enjoyment at dinner. I noticed the seating arrangements change each night, to stimulate new conversations and stories amongst the guests.
Felix and the staff at Owen River Lodge made our holiday effortless. There is only one thing left to say…see you next year Felix!
Stayed December 2012, travelled as a couple
Article detailing the fishing opportunities in the Murchison region and Owen River Lodge.
The Australian FlyFisher magazine has a centrefold spread featuring the cooking of our head chef Ryan.
Check out the rave review of Owen River Lodge and our fishery in the Australian edition of Gourmet Traveller Wine.