“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” - Winston Churchill

The Owen River Lodge ethos has always been about going over and above to delight our guests and exceed their expectations. It’s a philosophy founded in care, and our philanthropic work is a natural extension of that. We believe in generosity, and we use the means at our disposal to make a positive difference that extends beyond the lodge’s boundaries.

Here’s a sample of some of the very deserving causes that we support. We encourage you to support them too.

1. Casting for Recovery: “To fish is to hope”

Felix first threw open the doors of the lodge for breast cancer charity’s Casting for Recovery South Island retreat in April 2013 and has continued to do so every year since. Having lost a friend and neighbor to breast cancer in 2006, it’s a cause that’s always been very close to his heart.

Kylie also has a history with the charity. She was the first casting instructor for the Australian chapter’s inaugural 2016 retreat in Canberra.

Founded in 1996 by Vermont breast reconstruction surgeon and professional fly fisher, Dr Benita Walton, Casting for Recovery retreats offer women with breast cancer the opportunity to take time out, forge new friendships, reconnect with nature and have some gentle, beneficial exercise.

The charity was established in New Zealand 10 years later by former Air New Zealand flight attendant, Sherrie Feickert.

A transformative experience

The groups of women who come to Owen River Lodge each year are of different ages and backgrounds. Many of them are mothers and grandmothers and most have no experience of luxury accommodation, cuisine and indulgence. We don’t stint on any of it. For the time they’re with us, these women get the same full, five-star treatment that we give our paying guests . . . and boy, do they love Chef Ryan!

One of our fondest CFR memories comes from the 2016 retreat. Ange, a farmer’s wife from a South Island coastal community where there was no breast cancer support available at all, approached us . . . and she was glowing. She’d just had the first massage of her life.

“Now I know what all the fuss is about,” she said. “I want one every day!”

Most CFR participants openly admit they’d never contemplated taking up fly-fishing before attending the retreat. After experiencing first-hand how therapeutic angling can be for body, mind and soul, many of them leave the Lodge as enthusiastic converts. It’s always an honour for us to play a part in that journey.

2. Cawthron Institute, Nelson

The Cawthron Institute is the largest independent science organisation in New Zealand. It focuses on protecting the environment and helping primary industries develop sustainably. And, as a registered charity, it relies on donations and business partnerships for its operation. Founded in 1919, Cawthron punches well above its weight. The Institute employs 250 staff from 26 countries and works with organisations both within New Zealand and globally. It regularly makes headlines for its ground-breaking research in aquaculture, biosecurity, and marine and freshwater resource management. It’s that last one that grabbed our attention. When Cawthron announced it was seeking funding for its freshwater ecology and fisheries research, and that this included supporting the work of 3 freshwater research scientists we decided to get involved. Then we decided it would be a good idea to get other stakeholders involved too.

So we approached the New Zealand Professional Fishing Guides Association (NZPFGA) with a proposition: if they galvanised their members to donate to Cawthron, we’d match their donation up to a the total of $10,000.

As a result, in Cawthron’s eyes Owen River Lodge is a Significant Sponsor. Which is nice. But more importantly, we’re proud to play a role in promoting better understanding and protection of one of New Zealand’s most precious resources.

3. Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter

The northern end of New Zealand’s South Island (or The Top of the South, as locals call it) is blessed with its fair share of outstanding natural beauty. Boasting three national parks, a plethora of beautiful beaches, and stunning mountains and alpine lakes, (even a local ski field), our landscape is our biggest draw-card. But remote areas have their challenges, especially when it comes to medical emergencies.

Every year, the Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter flies over 500 missions to remote and hard-to-reach areas in the Top of the South. Available 24 hours a day, every day of the year, this service saves literally hundreds of lives. And only 50% of its funding is guaranteed.

Choosing to support the Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter’s vital work was a no-brainer for us. Owen River Lodge is a Silver sponsor and we’re very glad we can help.

4. Local community events

We’re well aware that Owen River Lodge doesn’t exist in a bubble. We’re part of a close-knit rural community that we support in diverse ways. We employ local staff and fishing guides and, where possible, support local suppliers and contractors. But we also like to get involved in community events and groups.

Over the years we’ve contributed to the local A&P show, the footy club, the garden club, Nelson Marlborough Fish & Game, Nelson trout fishing club, Rural Support Trust, The Salvation Army, Māia Health Foundation and various other groups and initiatives that enterprising Murchison community members think up. It’s important to us that our community knows we care about it and that we’re prepared to back up our words with action.

As far as we’re concerned, it’s all part of looking after your neighbours.

Contact us

Feb 15 2021

My husband was looking for a place to go to stay for a few days that provided him with a great place to fish but would suit myself (who doesn’t fish). He spotted Owen River… Read more

Helen & Brian New Zealand : TripAdvisor

Mar 30 2022

After a two year holiday hiatus, escaping to Owen River Lodge was simply brilliant! Felix, Kylie, Ryan and Jo looked after us so well and treated us like friends rather than guests.… Read more

Wayne & Cheryl: Cambridge, New Zealand : 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