Fishing around for the Best

New Zealand: Wild Trout of the Southern Alps

For many trout fishermen, New Zealand represents the pinnacle of fly-fishing. New Zealand boasts scores of great rivers and crystalline spring creeks teeming with wild trout. Despite its many attractions, however, New Zealand is less than ideal for novices. Kiwi trout are notoriously shy, and a novice fly-fisherman, even one who has paid thousands to fish at a top lodge, can come away frustrated.

Still, few places combine trophy angling with unspoiled natural beauty as well as New Zealand. The South Island is recognized as the country's angling mecca, though fewer than 6,000 foreign fishermen make the journey each year to the trophy-laden streams of the Southern Alps. Among the many great South Island lodges, the Lake Rotorua Lodge is hard to beat. Here, in scenic Nelson Lakes National Park, you can catch truly big fish on 42 different streams. (The average trout caught last year weighed 4.49 pounds.)
Another superior South Island haunt is the Lake Brunner Lodge, which boasts many world-class spring creeks. If only the ultimate will do, head to Dick Fraser's Cedar Lodge. Located on the banks of the Makarora River near Mt. Aspiring National Park, the lodge caters to just eight anglers a week, and employs helicopters to access some of New Zealand's most pristine trout waters. Cost is a hefty $3,600-$4,000 (U.S.) per week, including fly-outs.

If you have time to visit the North Island, head to Lake Taupo. There you can either hire a local guide, or fish on your own. (Ask the local shops for recommended trout streams and flies.) If you prefer a deluxe lodge try Tony Hayes' Tongariro Lodge, which has rights to the major outlet from Lake Taupo. Cost is $375 per day double occupancy. Another top North Island lodge is the Poronui Ranch, near the Rangitiki, the North Island's major wilderness river. With private access to the Mohaka River, guests can count on some of the most prolific brown trout fishing in the country. Lodge-based vacations start at about $300 (U.S.) per day on average. To book any of the lodges listed, call Frontiers, (800) 245-1950, The Fly Shop, (800) 669-FISH, or Kaufmann's Streamborn, (800) 442-4359.

We feel compelled to add that the fishing scene in New Zealand is not only for the rich. Don't be put off by the prices of the high-end lodges. The locals can't afford such places either, but they still manage to catch plenty of trout. Many great trout streams can be reached by 4WD vehicle, or on foot over New Zealand's extensive network of wilderness trails. You'll find the ever-friendly Kiwis more than willing to direct you to the best spots. For general travel information call the New Zealand Tourism Board. For a complete list of New Zealand fishing guides and other outdoor recreation sources, order the New Zealand Outside Directory, $19.95 (N.Z.) from Southern Alps Publishing Ltd., P.O. Box 737, Christchurch, New Zealand, (011 64) [0]3 326-7516; Fax: (011 64) [0]3 326-7518. You may also find the Directory in larger North American bookstores for about $16 (U.S.). This is a great resource—we use it to plan our own adventures down under.

Paul McMenamin is the author, editor, and photo director of the original Ultimate Adventure Sourcebook.

Published: 30 May 2001 | Last Updated: 14 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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