My wife and I recently returned from a spectacular 5 week visit to New Zealand capped off with a 3 night stay at Owen River Lodge. In planning our trip, my wife (a Trip Advisor review reading junkie) wanted to end our journey with a luxury resort accommodation experience. My agenda was to sneak in a little guided fishing for elusive NZ trophy brown trout I grew up reading and dreaming so much about. Based on the reviews, it was easy to steer her to Owen River Lodge.
No need to repeat all the positive reviews which helped me. Just read them yourself. Every superlative concerning the setting, amenities, facilities, gourmet cuisine, hospitality and attention to detail proved just as described. Surprisingly, what far exceeded my expectations, however, was our fishing experience.
When booking, I told Felix we would be travelling with no fishing gear and warned him that my wife had never fly fished and I had very limited experience. His response, “No problem, we will take care of everything!” Given our limitations, I was honestly skeptical and hoping just to enjoy some solitary river fishing with spectacular scenery and, with a little luck, perhaps hook up a nice fish or two.
Shortly after our arrival and settling in, Kylie had us outfitted with top line fishing gear followed by some patient fly fishing instruction on the front lawn. I fished the next two days, one of which accompanied by my wife. The net result… thanks basically to some impressive patience and the amazing knowledge, skills and expertise of our professional guides David and Paul, I managed to land and release eight beautiful brownies! More significant, however, my wife absolutely loved the experience and managed to catch & release a real beauty entirely on her own! With what I have been listening to ever since, you can no longer convince me that bragging and telling fish stories is just a “man” thing. Thanks Felix & company!
From the moment you arrive you know you are in a very special place. Having fished quite a bit in the US and staying at what I thought were nice places, this lodge is a whole new level.
Felix and his staff are nothing short of fabulous! The rooms are absolutely immaculate and beautiful with a view you have see to believe.The meals are off the chart good prepared by great chefs, Jo and Ryan wowed us each evening with wonderful food and wine.
Our guide David was not only a great guide but a joy to spend the day with. My wife had never been to a fishing lodge before and I will never be able to top this one. Thanks to everyone at Owen River Lodge for a memory to last a life time. We will be back again. Marshall and Cathy
We are thrilled to have been awarded the Fodors Editor’s Choice award for each of the previous 6 years- 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012 and 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 landscaped grounds, including the massive vegetable garden that supplies much of what arrives on your dining room table (dinner and breakfast is inclusive).”
After travelling the world for over 40 years nothing comes close to “Owen River Lodge” Felix and his team delivered way above expectation on all fronts.
The food, accommodation, location and the warm environment provided a sensational holiday experience. Fishing the local waters provided trout over 5lbs regularly and even produced 11.25lb for one of the guests.
I cannot wait to get back and enjoy the family atmosphere of the lodge where nothing is a problem for the host.
Returning for my fourth visit, the failure of arrival of summer did not diminish the experience. ORL continues to be welcoming, comfortable, and relaxing, helped in volumes by Felix Borenstein, the owner, assisted by his staff, including chef Ryan, the long suffering casting instructor Kylie, and Keely the resident golden Labrador. The fishing was awesome in spite of the weather. In search of the wilderness experience, I took two helicopter fishing trips to the Karamea river, in the heart of the Kahurangi National Park.
It always amazes me how overwhelming such trips are, with only the sound of the river and birdsong. The fish are tough and wild. I never have an expectation to catch a trophy, but if lucky 5 or 6 quality fish to the net ensues, only with the help of a good guide. Not cheap, but as an experience, I would not miss it. The skilful helicopter pilot picked us from the stony river bank up and home for cordon blue dinner. Will I travel all that way again - already started saving. Thank you Felix.
Felix and Kylie warmly welcome you into what feels like home, and offers top drawer accommodations from the early morning breakfasts to A+ evening meals! They work hard to help out everyone’s special needs, like my dietary restrictions. They made delicious meals without a problem! Fishing guides shepherd beginners to expert fishermen and women through very technical and athletic Brown Trout fishing on any number of the magnificent rivers close to the Lodge.
The guides are fun, competent and always challenging. The Lodge has everything for every need, so you do not have to fuss over packing. Just come and relax, take in the tranquility of this setting, trek through lush and rugged terrain, drink a variety of New Zealand wines, munch on home made cookies and sleep in the most comfortable bed ever! I will be a repeat customer!!! Thanks to Felix and Kylie and all of the staff at Owen River Lodge.
From the moment we entered the stunning beauty of the property, we knew this was going to be a special place. There are 3 cabins with 2 suites, each with their own entrance and porch where you can sit and enjoy the Owen River and mountains beyond. The rooms are spacious and impeccably clean with a large bathroom, great shower and towel warmer. Each room has its own minibar, french press coffee maker with daily fresh ground coffee & homemade cookies! A very well stocked bar and great NZ wines served in their lounge and all meals in the lodge.
The food is superb – so don’t expect or even try to diet. Upon arrival, a spread of appetizers and drinks were offered by the gracious and caring hosts, Felix & Kylie. They attend to your every needs and go out of their way to make sure the guest are comfortable, cared for and well fed. If you forget anything – Felix probably has something that will work. I can’t say enough to complement them on their wonderful lodge, attention to detail and warmth in making guest feel relaxed and ‘at home’.
As for fishing needs…. unless you’re emotionally attached to your boots, waders & rods, I wouldn’t bother to bring them. Felix’s fishing cabin is stocked with the latest Simms waders & boots and a variety of rods! Going through customs with used boots was a significant time delay and hassle – why go through that when he has it all! Fishing was as technical and challenging as we’ve heard but still able to catch some beautiful & large browns and you cannot match the splendor of the NZ landscape and wildflowers.
All in all, I trip that is forever etched into our memories and a place to return to hopefully in the near future!
Owen River Lodge is truly a piece of paradise. My son, husband & I arrived a couple of days after Christmas(summertime here) and were welcomed very graciously by the owner, Felix, and his fabulous staff including the superb hostess, Kylie and the best golden retriever ever, Keeley. Chef Jo cooked an awesome 3 course dinner with accompanying wines for us and we were off to our super comfy cabin with uber comfortable beds for the evening. Early am, guys and I were up for a cooked to order breakfast by Chef Ryan and then they met their fishing guide, Pete.
Pete grew up 3min from the lodge so knows these waters inside and out. He took the guys on about a 45 min truck ride away and then they fished for giant, brown trout. They had a super successful day and loved fishing with Pete and his knowledge and expertise on the river. While the guys fished all day, I enjoyed myself by exploring the Owen River with Keeley, the golden retrevier. She took me on quite the adventure. It took me a while to navigate the rocks along the river but after finding a large walking stick, I was able to keep up and we hiked for about 2 hours along the river.
I was served a great late lunch at the lodge and then went back down by the water to some giant bean bags to relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery and a good book. The gardens on the property of Owen River Lodge are really unique and I filled my iPhone with beautiful pictures of the unique plants and can’t wait to frame some for some upcoming Bday and Christmas gifts. When the guys returned we had a toast and beer with Pete, the staff and met some of the other guests of the lodge. The guys showered and changed to super casual clothing and we went back to the lodge for an another awesome 3 course dinner prepared by Chef Ryan.
All of the other guests staying at the lodge were all brought to this special place by the love of fly fishing and it was really fun and interesting to meet everyone at dinner and learn their stories and experiences. We cannot wait to travel back to Owen River Lodge and fish and relax again. Thanks to Felix for such a wonderful week! Cheers!
FlyLife, one of the world’s great fly fishing magazines has published an article about wilderness fishing in the Karamea river system.
I just returned from a 3-day stay at the Owen River Lodge. It was spectacular, and even a short stay easily qualifies as a trip of a lifetime. The accommodations are impeccable—comfortable, spotless, beautiful but not pretentious, and maximally suited to the stunning environmental landscape—there are covered porches outside rooms where you would be perfectly content sitting for hours because of the scenery and the sight and sound of the river.
The Owen River itself is a famous fishery and even when not guided you can try your luck at any hour of your stay. The guides relish the fishery and fiercely protect it. They sight the fish and teach you everything you are willing to learn about catching smart big fish (survivors). I have trout fished once-a-month in southern Missouri (USA) for about a decade—each of the eight fish I caught (having missed or lost twice as many because of bad technique) was bigger than any trout I have ever caught (all 4-6 lbs.; 7, 8, and 9 lb. fish were all caught by other guests during the short time I was there).
The guides across the region communicate with one another every morning such that everyone who is fishing is spread out across the numerous rivers and streams in the region. I was there on a beautiful weekend in late spring and did not see a single human on any stretch of river I fished.
Felix the proprietor and his team bend over backwards to ensure that each guest has what they need to make the most of the experience; they are PRESENT throughout the social elements of the stay (eg. meals and when you are spending time about the property on an unguided day)—they are consummate hosts, entertaining, and extremely knowledgeable about the region and its recreational opportunities. When they supply whatever gear you need (no extra cost) it is the best gear on the market (waders, boots, fly rods).
If you ask them to arrange for a transport to or from the airport or another region, you will get a driver who could double as a tour guide. They manage every case of jet lag and “own” that as part of their job. Throughout your stay, the main lodge which is their own living quarters, is your living room, dining room, and reading room. Most of all, they create opportunity (if you want it) to make the most of brief intersections of lives of the 10-16 people who are staying at the lodge at any given time; this typically happens at breakfast or happy hour or dinner every evening.
I crossed paths with a physician who spent a career in outreach medicine in the wilds of Australia, a navy chaplain, a successful restaurateur, creators of businesses, a triathlete couple, and a man who willed his way through a level of rheumatoid arthritis that made doctors doubt he could walk let alone fish, let alone peruse miles of rocky river shoreline stalking trout. These are the intangibles that I will remember most and that MADE the trip, completely unexpected value-added, along with the truly stunning New Zealand scenery, and, of course….the enormous trout.
Father and daughter trip of a lifetime! My father and I arrived 8 hours after the earthquake and tsunami hit NZ. Our first day of fishing was thwarted due to the conditions, but the local farmers/ranchers stopped by with homemade scones and invited us to come and bottle feed their lambs and calves. This is the type of atmosphere one finds at OWL. Our two days of fishing (with the expert help of Pete) yielded us 8 trout between 4 - 7 lbs.
Felix and Kylie were excellent hosts! Keeley, the resident dog, was a delight. Ryan and Jo, the chefs, were amazing! spring lamb, red deer venison, duck, and angus filets… The homemade granola, shortbread cookies, and the sandwich lunches were outstanding! The house wines were 5 star. The cabins are extremely well equipped: heated towel racks, beautifully stocked mini bar, and spacious!
We are already planning our next visit to ORL. The experience was SO much more than we expected! Zero negative feedback. Outstanding lodge!
(I haven’t submitted a review in the last few years, but ORL was so exceptional that I must share!)
My wife and I stayed at Owen River Lodge as part of our honeymoon. It was one of the most memorable and relaxing experiences we have had. Felix and his team are so welcoming and provided anything we needed. The accommodations are very comfortable, the cabins are the perfect balance between rustic and sophisticated. Not to mention the view is incredible.
The food did not disappoint either, it is as advertised five star! The fly fishing was a blast and our guide made it an experience we will never forget. My wife and I would absolutely recommend Owen River to anyone visiting New Zealand. If we go back we will make sure to stay here again!
Room Tip: Any one of the six rooms will exceed expectations
We are honored to have been awarded a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence for 2016. This is the 7th year in a row we have been awarded TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence and I would like to thank the great team of people that choose to work at Owen River Lodge and all of our fantastic guests that have taken the time to write a TripAdvisor review!
Only my second time to the lodge and I speak as someone who is absolutely hopeless with a fly rod but just love everything that is fly fishing. I’ve chased Golden’s and tuna on Hervey Bay, Bones in the Cook Islands and Browns in NZ.
For the Fly Fishers, the guides are great humans with wonderful temperament and skill set . They will put you onto fish! The gear Felix provides is first class all Sage rods and reels and Simms G3 waders and boots .
In regards the food. My best comparison is Lizard Island ( probably one of Australia’s top 3 luxury resorts ) . I would say the food at Owen River Lodge is as good if not better than Lizard .
In regards the wines that come inclusive with the tariff they are way way better than Lizard Island and any cruise line ( Silver Seas) that Ive been on. the rooms they are beautiful and clean . Again if i was to compare with Lizard Island ( pre the cyclone and rebuild ) I would say the rooms are an 8 out of 10 comparison.
Beyond that I really love the intimacy with only 6 rooms its a far, far more personable experience than i have experienced anywhere else. Felix was particularly accommodating with my quirky requests like packing a thermos of tea with real milk and a bottle of wine for each days fishing. He even trained me on closing doors ( in joke) .
My wife who is not into fishing flew in and joined us for the last night . She was so impressed that next time she will come in a day earlier and just relax around the lodge.
We just returned to Owen River Lodge for our second visit and again it was a terrific experience.
Felix and his team’s hospitality is first class. Nothing is too much trouble. The rooms are very well appointed and the lodge itself is set up perfectly for guests. The food was exceptional and the wine list very well selected.
For the fly fishermen it is everything you would want and more. All the gear (rods, reels, lines, waders, boots) is top shelf & the guides are experienced pros who put you on fish as well as being great company for a day on the river. The many rivers that are accessible in the area are world class. We are far from experienced fly fishing anglers but again we landed very nice wild brown trout on this trip. I would highly recommend Owen River Lodge and will be coming back for sure.