Nelson Tasman and Marlborough’s Lifestyle Magazine
Ivy Lynden looks at what is happening with tourism in the Top of the South…
ORL a winner with Condé Nast Traveler!
Second in New Zealand; fifth overall in Australia and the South Pacific—the results are in for Condé Nast Traveler’s 2020 Readers’ Choice Awards and Owen River Lodge is a winner!
The category we’ve won in—The Top 25 Resorts in Australia and the South Pacific—is certainly no pushover. It was open to all luxury accommodation providers and, like the other New Zealand operators featured in the winners list, many of these are members of large, global chains. None of them are dedicated fly fishing lodges. Which makes our place right up near the top all the sweeter.
Owen River Lodge has been honoured with a slew of awards in the last three years, most of them industry-based. This one was different—it was determined by votes from guests and well-wishers. And while it’s always great to be recognised by your peers in the industry, the feeling that comes from seeing the depth of your guests’ loyalty and goodwill in action is just incredible. I can’t describe how moving it is.
So, on behalf of the Owen River Lodge team, I want to thank everyone who voted for us and who has wished us well in this extremely testing year. Many of you are not able to physically come and stay but we live in hope that we will see you again sooner rather than later. As the fish get bigger and fatter, we’ll continually work to innovate and improve. And when you do make it back, we’ll be better placed than ever to show you the luxury angling experience of a lifetime.
Stay safe and well.
The very best !
We just concluded our sixth visit to Owen River Lodge over the course of the last few years. On our last two trips to New Zealand we have stayed at ORL on two separate occasions during our trip - once early in our visit to the South Island and once at the end of our trip, for stays of five nights each time.
There is a reason for that: there is nothing to compare with it. Felix’ motto is “Fly fishing at its very best.” That is true, thanks to the incredible fishery and the wonderful guides who make that happen. But it is really the very best of everything: food, location, camaraderie and conversation at the dinner table, rooms and amenities. As my wife, who does not fish, says: “it is our home away from home in New Zealand.” Thank you Felix, Kylie, Ryan, Jo, Cassandra, the wonderful housekeeping staff and all who help make ORL truly exceptional.
There are simply not enough superlatives to describe our 6-night, 4-day fishing stay at Owen River Lodge (ORL)! Felix, Kylie and each one of their accomplished and friendly team of wonderful guides, chefs and housekeepers delivered services that were far, far above and beyond our wildest expectations. Tucked away in a beautiful valley along the Owen River, the view from the covered porch of our incredibly well-appointed “cabin” was as perfect as everything we experienced at ORL.
From the moment we arrived, Felix and Kylie made us feel as comfortable as family. And Ryan, Jo and Cassandra fed us like royalty! Every meal was delicious and beautifully presented. Our cabin was always impeccably cleaned and restocked by the lovely ladies who were eager to accommodate our tiniest request. Chris, our fishing guide, was terrific! Even though we have each been fly-fishing for almost 40 years all over the USA, we learned SO MUCH from Chris about fishing for wary brown trout in New Zealand. He took us to some of the most beautiful rivers we’ve ever seen and fished. And, we sincerely appreciated his tireless hunt for “happy” (AKA “feeding”) fish that we could (sometimes, LOL!) catch. Thanks to Chris, and ORL’s extraordinary quality gear loaner program (which includes absolutely EVERYTHING a fly-fisher needs) we left with memories that will stay with us for the rest of our lives . . . at least until we return to ORL, which we fully intend to do - as soon as possible!
Great hosts in a great part of the world
elix, Kylie and Indy were great hosts for our four night stay at the lodge and have put together a fantastic team. The lodge is as pristine as the surrounds.
Peter our guide knew the region backwards and I swear had telescopes for eyes. When we could get ourselves together to put the fly where he pointed we hit gold! At the end of the day fishing, all the punters and guides got to share stories and banter ... it was a great atmosphere.
This atmosphere was of course well lubricated by some great local beer and wine with the lovely Cassandra always on the ball for top ups!
Jo and Ryan in the kitchen had us well fed and ready for bed each night (post me over some of those lamb cutlets!). Lucky I wasn’t wearing a belt.
As enthusiastic amateurs my mate and I were sorted with top notch loan gear and put on to some great fish. The small nature of the lodge means you get to meet everyone and get lots of tips. At least half of the other guests were return punters (which I think says a lot about the place) and were a wealth of knowledge too.
Hot tips from my visit would be 1. avoid light blue clothes which the insects seem to love, 2. Don’t forget your glove, 3.. If in doubt, Strike!
See you guys again soon!
What a special spot!
We were warmly greeted by Felix and Kylie. This was our friend’s repeat visit and they had been raving about the Lodge for several years. We weren’t disappointed.
Our room was beautiful, the food was outstanding, and the fishing experience was incredible. Kylie was so patient in giving me some casting lessons. We only wish we had more experience with the sport. We look forward to returning with more experience to catch those very sneaky fish. Thank you all for a very fun new experience.
Sunny Summer Sweetness at Owen River Lodge!
My husband and I enjoyed a three night, two day visit recently at ORL. We are repeat visitors and it just….keeps…..getting…..better! Felix, Kylie, Ryan and Cassandra were stellar in their customer service. We enjoyed exceptional meals at Ryan’s hand and Felix & Kylie see to the smallest detail including room amenities and impeccably manicured grounds.
We are casual fly-fishing people and to that end DON’T overlook this place if you are not an expert in fly fishing. There are a multitude of various activities to engage in during your stay and the guides are great at mentoring and helping with technique. Our guide, Gavin, was an affable young man whom we throughly enjoyed. He provided efficient guidance and put us on multiple fish. Bottom line: we’ll be back~ OH….Indie, the resident lab is irresistible and the wine list is impressive!
The Best Keeps Getting Better!
Felix, Kylie and the amazing team at Owen River Lodge (ORL) continue to exceed expectations. I have been visiting the South Island of New Zealand since 1997 and have stayed at ORL several times now. From the first trip, ORL has been unique and outstanding - somehow it keeps getting even nicer! Felix is tireless at making ORL even better, which is no easy task given the high bar he and his team have already set.
The cabins are beautiful and comfortable and continue to look like they are brand new. They are meticulously maintained and luxuriously appointed.
The main lodge had some great but subtle upgrades since my last visit including a spectacular new picture window in the dining room overlooking the river and, during October, snow-capped mountains.
Chef’s Ryan and Jo impress at every meal. Delicious, hearty and healthy food.
At the end of the day, I visit ORL for the fishing and Felix has built (and continues to develop through an innovative training program) an impressive stable of guides. As good a team as I’ve seen in my 20+ years fishing the area. The lodge’s location is ideal and due to the great number of area rivers the diversity of the fishing opportunities feels endless.
Truly an outstanding experience in every way and it’s clear why ORL continues to win so many NZ tourism awards!
Most amazing place!
We were staying at Owen River Lodge in the early spring season, October, and we loved the place! Friendly and inviting staff. Great wines served each evening and with dinner. Which was the best! We were served gourmet meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner! Expertly prepared by friendly chefs and served by either Felix himself, or Kylie. As a fishing lodge owner myself, I learned a lot about how a 5 start lodge operates. Mine is tad casual, in Alaska, but I am definitely taking home some pointers! The cottages were so comfortable and well appointed. The housekeeping staff did a great job.
My husband and his buddy loved the challenging fishing, and the guides were very helpful and patient. And friendly! As the non fishing spouse, I found a lot of time to relax, but also long walks, bike rides and a massage were great ways to entertain myself. I also had a day tour provided and was able to see more of the area, taste some of my favorite wines, and new ones, and had a marvelous lunch. This was booked separately, but a not to miss day for any non fishing guest with Felix and Kylie! I will accompany my husband again on this trip in the future. We love New Zealand and now that we know about ORL, we will be back!
Felix - I just wanted to pass on my sincere thanks to you, Kylie, Ryan, Jo, Anton and Chris for making my stay at ORL a truly memorable one.
When you asked me whether anything could be improved at ORL for the first time in a long time I was left without anything to respond with – ORL and you and your team do absolutely amazing job in keeping your guests very happy.
The ambience at ORL is amazing and the facilities and accommodation are first class.
A particular thank you to you and Kylie for taking the time to dine and chat with us - that was greatly appreciated.
I hope you all have a great season in what I refer to as “heaven on earth”. I am already scouring the 2020 calendar to find a slot for another trip to ORL.
Felix and Kylie know how to welcome, inform, host and wow. My husband and I combined our 40th wedding anniversary with 3 days at Owen River Lodge. It was a truly memorable experience. Incredible food led by Jo and Ryan international chefs, Stefano and Gavan our guides, river crossings by vehicle and by foot to remember, we even caught fish!!
Felix has loads of experience and has won many awards for his stylish accommodation (possum fur throws) stunning location and all over this guy knows what he is doing. Loved every minute of it. Lisa and Rick Melbourne
Well we did it again, wining a New Zealand Tourism Industry award - 2 years running!
Read all about our win here: https://www.owenriverlodge.co.nz/blog/its-officialorl-provides-nzs-best-visitor-experience/
I’d read about the Owen River Lodge for years in Flyfishing mags so finally got to go with my wife, her first time Flyfishing. What a lovely place you have built Felix right from the start with a light lunch then getting Tina kitted out with waders and rod then dinner was out of this world thank-you. Ryan and the guides Adam and Chris really know there stuff and were very patient helping with her casting and then landing her first trout. We really did have a wonderful time thank-you.
The publishers of The Fly Fisherman have produced a stunning travel journal titled “Destinations”. Barry Beck has been kind enough to write about the world class wild trout fishery in our region and Owen River Lodge.
Australia’s only national newspaper, The Australian, has published a wonderful article about staying and fishing at Owen River Lodge. Its also a humorous look at learning to fly fish - well worth a read !