I fly fish in New Zealand a few times a year. From Melbourne Australia it is easy to get there. Airfares are very reasonable and the flight is under 4 hours.
This year I decided to visit Owen River Lodge again. Its hard to keep away given that that Lodge is the best 5 star lodge in NZ. Five star however normally means that the establishment ticks all the required boxes to achieve its rating. With Owen River Lodge it really does go beyond the required criteria. The service here is personalised and intuitive. The atmosphere and lodge is intimate, relaxed and luxurious. The food really is deserving of major accolades. It is fresh, innovative, balanced and at times euphoric. Being a foodie I almost look forward to the cuisine as much as the tremendous fishing.
The other thing that sets ORL apart is that the owner, Felix Borenstein employs the best fishing guides in the region. These guys know their stuff. They know not only were the fish are but which rivers are best to fish at any given time. Last season various clients caught fish between 10 lb and just under 13 lb. Staggering sizes and evidence that the areas and rivers immediate to ORL really do offer the best sighted brown trout fishing in the world. I decided to visit early this year, just after season opening. Most fly fishermen prefer the warmer peak months but I can attest that early fishing is fantastic and best of all there are not many other fishermen around and the trout a little less wary. Thank you Felix for another trip that was again beyond expectations, beyond 5 starts both for the service/wonderful accommodation and the fishing. Cant wait to come back !
On arrival at this superb lodge, you are treated by Felix who has everything at his finger tips, and then you realise the amazing location, and this is followed by the superb view of the Owen river from every room, we knew instantly this was going to be something special, and we were not wrong.
Our first huge surprise was the superb dinner we had that evening we arrived, Ryan the Chef is a master of his art and all our meals breakfast, lunch on the rivers and the dinners were absolutely top class, 5 star restaurant standard.
The selection of wines were outstanding and I think happy hour was more like very happy two hours. We fished for three days in the most wonderful wilderness areas and our guide Boris was fantastic, patient with us and found us lots of fish in difficult conditions, the rivers were coloured do to recent rain.
Our partners who don’t fish were very well catered for, and enjoyed Spa and massage, Jet Boating, Site seeing, and just generally relaxing with a walk of the resident dog or just a casual stroll by the streams.
This is right at the top of its game and should not be missed if you like your fishing. I also like that everything was included, just a small incidental bill on departure, could not have been better, unless of course I caught the 12lb Trout instead on Meg LOL.
This was our second trip to Owen River Lodge and what a wonderful experience it was. The location is sublime, the fly fishing superb and the lodge an incredible mix of understated elegance and simplicity. Felix, the owner of Owen River Lodge has an eye for detail, a passion for fly fishing and a desire to see all of his guests looked after. He certainly does a wonderful job.
Felix has put together a wonderful team of guides that are born and breed Kiwis (or have lived there long enough it doesn’t matter) and can spot trout in impossibly difficult places. All guides are professional and fun to be with and take time with their anglers to ensure they get the most out of their day. The guides are willing to share their knowledge and experience which means anglers leave better fishers after their stay at the lodge. Catching up with the guides at the end of the day for a cold beer and debrief is one of the highlights.
The lodge has range of quality gear to make life for the traveling angler a lot easier. Simms waders, boots, sage rods and reels- in all sizes and configurations means there is no need to bring any gear unless you want to. That certainly makes travel a lot simpler and getting through customs a breeze. We used the lodges’ equipment and enjoyed trying out the very latest gear.
Then there is Ryan the head Chef who creates wonderful dishes from local produce that are both hedonistic and delicious – his desserts get plenty of ooohs and aaahs at the table. Indeed every course does! So if you want to experience the best the South Island has to offer then Owen River Lodge is the place to go.
Can we not keep this one a secret?
The temptation is to rubbish Owen River Lodge to keep it a hidden secret. However, as virtually all reviews are of like mind, I am unlikely to succeed in keeping this to myself.
My second trip, this time in the summer was in glorious sunshine. The good weather comes with a price; many rivers are lower than usual and so this is where the guides, and local knowledge come into their own. Felix artfully advised, and for my first time (the last was in spring) I wet waded, which was a joy. My guide carefully selected rivers and if the promise was not fulfilled early then a backup plan was adopted, with the result that I achieved 34 good browns, up to 10 lbs, with one day 15 alone up to 4 lbs, in 7 days. My lifetime best! As to the facilities, Owen River Lodge is a class act.
The dry approach of Felix hides a great host. The food, as ever, led by Ryan and supported by Cheryl and Lily was superb. The care with which seating at meals is altered to mix people up is a great thing for me, a solo traveller. The comfort of the chalets is reassuring being so far from home. Keeley, the “failed” guide dog provides those of us with dogs that pleasure of canine company whilst on holiday. When I first visited ORL it was with some reserve. I returned to friends in a quality establishment, to have so much fun. My only reservation, if it is construed as such is do not think the fishing is easy. The guides do their very best to fit the daily sorties to the guests. Physically it can be quite demanding but a fantastic experience.
I cannot wait to go back!
Three nights at the Owen River Lodge was just not enough time to be in the place I’d love to be forever. It WAS enough time however to explore some of the most beautiful stretches of the Owen River for either a swim (me) or to catch a whopping 8 pounder brown trout (husband…so proud!).
The fishing was fantastic and guides organized through the lodge definitely value add to the overall experience: - extremely knowledgeable guides who are generous with their tips and strategies for improving your art in sighting, casting and landing. I can happily report that from my husband and stories of praise for the guides from other guests at the lodge when we would gather each evening. Gourmet skills from Ryan and his kitchen team made me glad for “catch and release” so we could enjoy the superbly presented and delicious meals which made every dinner a foodie dream-exquisite.
As a non-fishing guest journeying into the middle earth of wilderness I had packed lots of things (just incase) such as a French speaking course and drawing/painting supplies. However, due to opportunities for walks around the area or along the river by the lodge with Keeley (beautiful Golden Retriever/Lab and belle of the lodge); daily jacuzzis; catching up with other non-fishing guests adventure stories from their white water rafting and horse riding activities; I was completely content to be entertained by the lodge facilities, ambience and staff. Felix is the most brilliant host and his attention to detail and thoughtfulness was incredible to witness and experience. Every effort was made to ensure that everyone was having a good time, and you really couldn’t not have one. To me, Owen River Lodge is one of the most beautiful places in the world, with some of the best food and wine you will taste, where you can do as much or as little as you feel like, as long as you are doing what you want.
Or catching an 8 pounder fish having the best day of your life. Embrace.
Thank you Felix for sharing a little slice of your heaven with us. We can’t wait for next time.
Thank you Felix for another incredible week at Owen River Lodge.
Where do we begin to express our feelings …?
The lodge - offers the warmth and friendliness of a country inn. The cabin rooms are large offering simple elegance with natural light. Each room offers a view which is an eye wash every morning, noon and night…imagine a pallet of mountains, the Owen River, beautiful landscaping, cattle, and birds.
The dinners - exquisite… presentation and taste would be hard to beat. As a special treat, Head Chef Ryan would come to the table each night and describe each course in detail and then leave us to savor his art of cooking.
The wine – New Zealand, of course, so what else do you need.
The fishing –We have had four different guides over the past years, as this was our fourth stay at Owen River Lodge, and all four guides made sure we accomplished what we desired -which was to fish and enjoy ourselves. This year David was our guide. David knows the rivers and the trout plus has a passion and energy that was contagious. In fact Tim and I both agreed we felt David got as excited as we did when we netted a brown. After 5 days of fishing, we can honestly say we had a whole lot of fun and one very successful week … 25 browns up to 9 pounds! Thank you David.
The staff – It is evident that they care and they always have a smile.
Keeley – one more thing to love about the charm of Owen River Lodge.
Felix – Considering all of the above, there is one more reason we stay at Owen River Lodge and that is Felix. This is a life choice for him and he has devoted his time in making sure your stay is perfect and without want. With that said, it is obvious he loves what he is doing, he is an incredible host; his attention to detail in everything is unsurpassed. He makes you feel so welcome and his humor is quite witty to say the least. His knowledge of the area will help you with all of your needs and desires. You never have to ask for anything twice, in fact … you rarely have to ask for anything as he has already thought of it and has it covered.
The Owen River Lodge is indeed a 5 star gem!
Thank you Felix and we are counting the days until we return …. Approximately 363 more to go!
Tim O and Kay B
From the moment I stepped out of the car at Owen River Lodge I knew this was going to be a special week to remember. Felix the owner and host greeted us with a warm welcome upon arrival ,and showed me to my spacious and extremely cosy room,which had the added bonus of a verandah to sit and take in the serene views of the Owen river flowing by.
A refreshing drink and an introduction to fellow guests and guides in the dinning room ,soon became friendly chatter of the days fishing adventures and a relaxing atmosphere which was to continue for the entire week . The food consisting of New Zealand’s finest produce was amazing ,even more so for me because of severe food allergies. To enjoy a beautiful meal with no consequence is heaven. This was my first trip to New Zealand and to fish some of the remarkable rivers, where the reputations of big trout linger ,and the expectations of a relatively newcomer to flyfishing was to cause a little apprehension .
I need not have worried, Anton our guide was, patient and dedicated. His ability to sight fish was amazing ,which led to an exceptional week of fishing for me . It is to the credit of Felix and his team that creates the atmosphere to make people feel welcome and special . Thank You .
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.