New Zealand’s first “Women Only” luxury fly fishing retreat

April 30, 2021

By Felix Borenstein

On 8–14 April 2021, Owen River Lodge hosted our inaugural luxury fly fishing retreat exclusively for women.

What’s more, this event was the first of its kind in New Zealand.
The first in the country. We can’t believe that no-one else here had even considered such a thing. As if women aren’t interested in catching big, beautiful trout (wrong!).

As if they’re not good at it (wrong again!). Over the years we’ve seen the power of those XX chromosomes time and time again out on the water. All the husbands out-fished by their wives will know exactly what I’m talking about (sorry, guys).
It was the right time…until it wasn’t.

Back in 2019, when we first had the idea for a women-only retreat, we were confident we knew exactly how to put on a great experience for female participants. After all, we’ve opened Owen River Lodge to breast cancer charity Casting for Recovery for the past seven years. Those weekends are always beautiful events and the women who attend them, love them. It’s often their first experience of casting and fly-fishing and some get hooked, going on to become dedicated anglers when they return home.

So we felt ready to host our first women-only retreat. It was scheduled to run in April 2020, but Covid knocked that idea on the head. So we bravely re-scheduled for April 2021. I say “bravely” because we weren’t optimistic it would go ahead. With our borders closed, we could only promote the event within New Zealand. We figured we’d get four women attending if we were lucky.

It was a leap of faith. And I’m glad we made it. Because eight wonderful Kiwi women packed their suitcases and came from all over the country to attend Owen River Lodge’s inaugural women-only luxury fly fishing retreat. To say I was blown away would be an understatement. A massive success.

Anyone experienced in hosting dinner parties will tell you that the secret of success is to have a varied mix of people. We certainly had that at the retreat. The women ranged from experienced fly fishers, through to those relatively new to angling, and two adventurous women who’d never fished at all.

The six nights and five days of the retreat flew by, with the lodge filled with the sound of laughing women. We got down to business right from the afternoon everyone arrived, with casting lessons from Kylie, our resident FFI Certified casting instructor.

The package included a one-hour massage, which was hugely popular. On two of the evenings we were entertained by fishing guides Chris and Paul, who demonstrated fly tying and and shared pretty much everything they know about knots!

Over the five days of guiding fishing, the women fished 20 different beats on 9 different rivers, catching fish of all sizes—including a stunning 12.25lb wild brown trout!

The weather didn’t really play ball but I’m delighted to report that everyone caught fish. So—result!

We’re doing it again in 2022

The women had so much fun that we’ve decided to run this event again next year. Hopefully this time, we’ll be able to welcome women guests from all over the world!

WHAT: Women-only luxury fly fishing retreat
WHEN: 8–14 April, 2022
WHERE: Owen River Lodge, New Zealand
COST: NZ $5,490 per person, twin share
INCLUDES: 6 nights Accommodation (twin-share), all meals and house wines, 5 days of professional guided fishing, casting lessons, fly-tying sessions, one-hour massage and airport transfers to/from Nelson.

Places are limited, so book early for a very special five days in paradise with the angling sisterhood. And remember, you don’t need any prior experience—the fish don’t care!

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Apr 9 2021

Just spent 4 lovely nights at ORL. Beautiful informal surroundings with great views. The dinners were exceptional thanks to Jo and Ryan. Felix & Kylie made us very welcome… Read more

Catherine & David Auckland NZ : TripAdvisor

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