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.
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!
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.
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.
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.