Owen River Lodge

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  • Fish for: Brown Trout
  • Available seasons: 1st of October to the 30th of April
  • Location: South Island
  • Recommended stay: 3 - 7 days
  • Accomodation: 5 Star Lodge
  • Other activities: Bird Watching, Bush Walking, Farmhouse Tours, Golf, Heli Fishing, Helicopter Tours, Horse Riding, Jet Boating, Kayaking, Mountain Biking, Sightseeing, Spas, White Water Rafting, Winery Tours
  • Pricing: 5 nights 6 days (included 3 days guided fishing) from $2450 (plus transfers from Nelson / Christchurch)

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The Owen River Lodge is a boutique contemporary styled 5 star rated fishing lodge which has been running since November 2003. It is located in the picturesque Owen Valley near Murchison, in the Nelson Lakes district of the South Island of New Zealand. This unique location places the lodge  right in the middle of the best brown trout fishery in the world, and you dont have to go far to experience it, the lodge sits on the banks of the Owen River with almost a kilometre of river frontage, an ideal locale for that quiet after-dinner cast during the evening rise.

Why Owen River Lodge?
The South Island of New Zealand has the best sighted trout fishery in the world, with a reputation for delivering consistantly huge Brown Trout.
The highly experienced and friendly guiding team at Owen River Lodge are the best around.
There is fantastic dry fly and nymph fishing amongst the huge choice and variety of rivers, streams and lakes that our guests can fish.
The location and facilities - which are truly spectacular.
The friendly and professional lodge team at Owen River Lodge.
The exceptionally luxurious 5 star lodgings.
The great range of fresh food prepared by the in house chef.
The myriad of non fishing things to do in the Murchison / Nelson Lakes region.
The numerous blue-ribbon streams and rivers in the area, with over 30 waters accessible by road (most within 1 hours drive) and countless others by helicopter.

The Fishing.
You may have heard New Zealand's rivers described as being "Gin Clear" - well it's true! Imagine stalking a 10lb brown trout in water so clear that water which looks 12 inches deep is actually up to your waist! 

The Owen River Lodge is centrally located, with easy access to the Nelson and West Coast Fisheries. Thus you can enjoy fly fishing on numerous blue-ribbon streams and rivers, with over 30 waters accessible by road (most within 1 hours drive) and countless others by helicopter.

The region is renowned as a "sighted" brown trout fishery, with the average trout size ranging from 3lb to 6lb (there's nothing average about that!). This means, for the majority of the rivers, the angler must see the fish before the fish sees you. Hunting or stalking our brown trout requires the angler to use a dull coloured fly line, long leaders & fine tippet. Unlike lake fishing, the majority of the casting you will do will be medium to short distances - accuracy being much more important than the ability to cast the complete fly line. Generally anglers use a 5 or 6 weight rod, 9 to 10 feet in length.

The region has a huge variety of rivers to choose from, small intimate rivers like the Owen River, to iconic freestone rivers such as the Wairau. Each season, the fishery in and around Owen River Lodge has granted many an angler's dream of landing a 10 pounder.

Why not combine the challenge of fly fishing with a breathtaking helicopter flight to one of the many remote wilderness streams in the region. Imagine fishing stretches of water possibly not fished by any other angler this season, where you will stalk large, wild brown trout in crystal clear mountain streams.

A helicopter will allow you to access countless kilometers of wilderness rivers and streams, inaccessible to vehicles, and accessed by foot only over great time and difficulty. This makes most of the waters virtually untouched.

The lodge uses the services of local “chopper” companies that specialise in Heli-Fishing. The helicopter you will fly in will vary based on the number of anglers/guide and the location you choose.

Hughes/ MacDonald Douglas 500
up to 4 passengers (including guide) + pilot

Eurocopter EC130/ Squirrel
up to 6 passengers (including guide) + pilot

The Lodge
The Owen River Lodge is nestled within 16 acres of lush gardens and farmland, with stunning views of the river, the valley and the mountains beyond, and the mesmerically delightful sounds of the river in the background.

The views from the guest cottage suites are also breathtaking, with sensational outlooks to the Owen River, the Owen Valley, Mount Owen & the Kahurangi National Park. 

The lodge has two guest lounge areas. One of these is equipped with a TV/Video Player and DVD player as well as a Notebook PC for you to check e-mails etc. For the technologically obsessed we have a WiFi wireless network with satellite delivered broadband. The main lodge building includes the dining room, lounge room, sitting room, lodge shop, fly tying area and of course, the bar. In the lodge grounds, just past their organic herb and vegetable gardens, you will find the massage / therapy room & our outdoor Jacuzzi/spa. 

To ensure your absolute privacy, guests are accommodated in six purpose built guest cottage suites which are located in the garden. Each comes complete with stunning views of the river, the valley and the mountains beyond. 

The lodge has won numerous accolades including:

2007 – Hotel Club listed the Lodge as a finalist in their top hotels of Australasia & the Pacific 

2006 - Luxury Travel Magazine (Australian edition) listing Owen River Lodge in their “Top 20” luxury fishing resorts of the world.

2005 - Luxury Travel Magazine (USA edition) listed the lodge in their list of "World's Best New Hotels"


The Food
The food at Owen River Lodge could best be described as stunning. They use the very best of fresh, locally sourced produce, much of which is right out of the lodge's own garden, and of course nearby Nelson has a thriving fishing industry, so what they catch on Monday is served at the lodge on Tuesday!

The package includes the use of all the fishing gear you may need. Indeed, the lodge has the world's best equipment available for our guest use. Simms Guide Gore-Tex waders (ladies & mens sizes available), Simms Gore-Tex wading jackets, Simms Guide wading boots - size 5 up to size 14, Sage Rods & Reels and Lamson Reels.

The Regions Trout Rivers

Nelson/ Marlborough Region Rivers
Acheron, Alma, Aorere, Buller, Clarence, Cobb, Conway, D’Urville, Gowan, Goulter, Leatham, Mangles, Nunnya, Matiri, Matakitaki, Maruia, Motueka, Motupiko, Owen, Opawa, Patarau, Pelorus, Riwaka, Rahu, Rai, Sabine, Spring Creek, Severn, Saxton, The Branch, Travers, Takaka, Wangapeka, Waimea, Woolley, Wairau and Waihopai.

West Coast Region Rivers
Inangahua, Jackson, Jacobs, Karamea, Karangarua, Kaniere, Kokatahi, Landsborough, La Fontaine Stream, Leslie, Little Wanganui, Martyr, Moeraki , Mikonui, Mokihinui, Mawheraiti, Moonlight, Nancy, Nicholas Stream, Ohikanui, Orangipuku, Okuru, Paringa, Roaring Lion, Rough, Styx, Tutaekuri, Trent, Taramakau, Toaroha, Totara, Thomas, Turnbull, Ugly, Waitahu, Waikiti, Waiheke, Whataroa, Waitangitaona and Waiatoto River.

The Seasons
The variation in seasons/weather and trout diet/ behaviour means that there are 3 distinct “seasons” within the fishing year. 

Early Season – October & November
Early season fishing in New Zealand has some advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side, the fish haven’t seen an angler for 5 months.
Due to snow melt and rain, the rivers are running high – making crossing the larger ones challenging (or downright out of the question!) At this time of the year the weather is changeable, make sure you bring your dull-coloured rain coat.
It’s early in the season that trout seem to love big nymphs - the stone fly is a classic early season fly. Typically 75% of your catch will be using a nymph under an indicator.

Mid Season - December, January & February
This is the time for classic dry fly fishing at its best. The rivers have dropped a little, the weather is warmer and more stable, insect life has increased. Mid season should see you catch 80% of your fish using a dry. The Parachute Adams is the classic NZ dry. 
This time of year will also see terrestrials like cicadas making guest appearances on the water. 
“Stubborn” fish may need to be encouraged with a small tungsten nymph under a dry or indicator.
With all this dry fly action, it will come as no surprise to you that the fishing pressure increases.

Late Season - March & April
Dry fly, terrestrials & small nymph time! There’s a good chance of mayfly activity on some waters. The weather is less stable than mid season, though river heights should still be comfortable. It’s starting to cool, however truly icy weather is a rarity in the Nelson Lakes district at this time of year. The changing weather conditions means you need to adapt to the conditions of the day. The good news is that most of the overseas anglers have departed, so the angling pressure is lessened.

The Fly Fishing Guides
The secret to maximising your fishing experience is to use an experienced fishing guide. At Owen River Lodge they are very fortunate to work with some of New Zealand's most experienced fly fishing guides. Due to, in part, the clarity of the water, the fly fishing in this region can be quite technical and therefore enormously rewarding. We recommend you use a guide whilst staying at the lodge - however the choice is yours; use a guide for all, some or none of your time at the lodge. All the fishing guides working at the lodge are members of the NZPFGA - New Zealand Professional Fishing Guides Association.

Bringing Gear
Though the lodge has a selection of premium fly fishing equipment for our guests to use free of charge, those who love to use their own gear are most welcome!

What equipment should you bring? 
Fly rods: 5>7 weight is ideal. If you have both bring them along. That way you can have the 5 weight rigged as a dry fly rod and the 7 weight rigged for Nymphing 
Fly reels: To suit your rod, make sure your reel has a really good drag system and at least 50 meters of backing
Leaders: Due to the clarity of the rivers we fish; long leaders are essential – 12 or 13 foot 8lb (3x) tapered leaders are ideal
Fly Lines: Most anglers use a weight forward, floating line. Dull in colour - green being ideal.
Tippet: 4, 5 and 6 pound fluorocarbon and/or nylon, we use Rio & Umpqua
Fishing vest: With floatant, clippers, forceps (The best tool for removing flies from the large trout you are going to catch) 
Flies: Some Kiwi favourites are: Dry – Parachute Adams, Royal Wulff and Cicadasm; Nymphs - Hare and Copper, Pheasant Tail, and some small tungsten bead heads

If you are using a guide, they will be happy to provide suitable flies. *BE AWARE* New Zealand customs will be very unhappy if you bring fly tying feathers with you. Save yourself the hassle and leave all fly tying equipment at home. 

Wading Boots
To assist the minimisation of the transmission of water based invasive pests, *BE AWARE* the New Zealand government has now banned the use of felt soled boots. We recommend you bring Rubber soled or Rubber/ carbine spiked fishing boots. Simms distributes 2 models of Aquastealth (sticky rubber) wading boots which are ideal.

Lightweight Waders
Gore-Tex type is ideal for early/late season. In the warmer months most Kiwis wade wet. All you need is a pair of lightweight nylon shorts over polypropylene underwear bottoms and your boots. An even better product than polypropylene is Kiwi Merino Wool thermal underwear leggings/bottoms made by Icebreaker. We never leave home without them! 

Good quality polarised sun or prescription glasses, woollen socks, wide brimmed hat or baseball cap, windproof pullover/fleece, and a good quality hooded rain jacket – a dull colour is best

Equipment for Sale
The lodge has a good selection of flies, tippet material, leaders, fly lines,  polarised sun glasses, Columbia fishing shirts, pants & wading jackets for sale.

Travel Tips
New Zealand Customs Officers are serious about maintaining New Zealand’s disease-free status. *BE AWARE* Please make sure your boots and waders are absolutely spotless with no mud, grass or any other material attached to them. We recommend that you do not bring any fly tying materials.