Casting For Recovery 2020: how we helped make it work in the Covid year

October 26, 2020

By Felix Borenstein

For the last seven years, we’ve been opening the doors of Owen River Lodge to groups of breast cancer survivors and hosting a weekend of authentic five-star treatment.

We run these retreats in partnership with breast cancer charity Casting For Recovery, and work hard to make them a heady mix of fine dining, pampering sessions and fly-fishing tutorials. The weekend always culminates in a trip up one of Murchison’s rivers with a personal fishing guide.

These weekends are always a huge success. Everyone involved—attendees, support crew, fishing guides, my team at Owen River Lodge, and I—love them. So at the start of this year, it seemed a given that everything was on track for the eighth Casting For Recovery South Island Retreat.

In early March we were good to go and really looking forward to it. Casting For Recovery is one of the highlights of our year and a great way to wrap up the season.

But 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic had other ideas.

The weekend traditionally takes place at the end of April, just before the close of the fishing season. But that was right when New Zealand was transitioning from full Level 4 lockdown to Level 3 restrictions, with most gatherings banned.

Even if we’d been at Level 2, we couldn’t have risked it. The ladies who attend these weekends often have compromised immune systems and we couldn’t guarantee it would be 100% safe for them.

With the fishing season well over by the time most of the country moved to Level 1, it was looking as if we’d have to put off until 2021. But I decided I didn’t want to postpone it any longer.

This event means a lot to a lot of people and it means a lot to me. I lost a very dear friend to breast cancer and that’s the main reason I initially got involved with Casting for Recovery.

So this year we decided to host the event at the start of the new season, rather than at the end. It took a fair bit of juggling but it was definitely worth it.

With a lot of organising and a bit of last-minute magic, the Owen River Lodge team pulled together to host Casting For Recovery for the eighth year straight, offering the same level of care and five-star treatment as we have in other, less unusual years

The event on 9–11 October was a blast.

It took a bit of juggling but every single one of those women is amazing and it was a privilege to host them. We’ve already started planning for next year’s event. Because anything I can do to spoil these ladies rotten, make them happy and contribute towards their recovery, I will.


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Awards & acknowledgements

Owen River Lodge NZ: “Fly fishing at its very best”

Ph: +64 3 523 9075 Address: Owen Valley East Road, Murchison, Nelson, South Island, New Zealand