The new trout fishing season in New Zealand opened last weekend so for the next seven months fishing lodges and guides all around the country will be flat out. If you’re planning to be part of the action you’ll want to know the best way to book your fishing stay.
Obviously, some of the lodges accept direct bookings through their reservation systems, and these are easy enough to do yourself. But online booking systems can’t help you with bookings at more than one lodge or arranging your transport options to get there. They also can’t discuss the fishing options with you, or help you find a room with feather pillows, if that’s what you really want. If you want personal service you have go that step further and work with a travel planner or specialist.
So here’s some things to consider –
- Whereabouts in New Zealand are you planning to fish, and what do you hope to catch?
- When are you planning to visit, and when is the best time?
- What style of accommodation do you prefer?
- Do you want to book direct for everything or do you want to work with a specialised fishing lodge consultant?
- How are you planning to travel between lodges, or between the airports and the lodges?
- What other activities do you want to do while you are in New Zealand?
- Do you have a non-fishing partner or friend travelling with you?
And here’s a few answers to those questions –
- Whereabouts in New Zealand are you planning to fish, and what do you hope to catch? – this is an important question as the fishing is not the same around the country. Brown and rainbow trout are found predominantly in the central North Island and the north, west and south of the South Island. New Zealand’s key cities – Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch – are all a reasonable drive from good trout fishing, although there are some good fishing rivers and lakes within two hours of Christchurch and three to four hours from Wellington and Auckland. Salmon fishing is found on the east coast of the South Island and around the lakes inland of there.
- When are you planning to visit, and when is the best time? The fly fishing season in New Zealand is mainly October to April, with a few local variations. The lakes and lower reaches of some rivers can remain open all year. There is surprisingly good spring fishing in many areas (October to early December) and some good late season fishing as well (March and April). Fish tend to go deeper during the hot days of summer (late December to February) but still feed well earlier and later in the day – in fact, some people insist the best fishing is in February. Winter is spawning time in New Zealand and this can offer good fishing in areas that have an open season all year. Another consideration is that late December through to late February is the middle of summer in New Zealand, the long summer school holidays, and the most popular time for people to visit. At this time lodge bookings and fishing guides are at an absolute premium so you’ll want to book well ahead if possible.
- What style of accommodation do you prefer? There is accommodation available right across the spectrum, but many overseas visitors enjoy the comfort and social activity of the good fishing lodges. These start at the top end with 5 star options like Blanket Bay and Huka Lodge, or boutique options like Owen River Lodge and Stonefly Lodge. There are beautiful wilderness places like Poronui and Minaret Station, and the iconic Tongariro Lodge and Fiordland Lodge for proximity to some excellent fishing while staying near a small town or national park. Take your pick. There are also a number of 4 star lodges if your budget is a bit tight, and 2 -3 star cottages and motels if you want a no-frills trip.
- Do you want to book direct for everything or do you want to work with a specialised fishing lodge consultant? A single lodge stay can be easy enough to book online if you have no special requests and know exactly what you want. But if you want to discuss arrangements for fishing, are concerned about arrival or departure times, want to coordinate stays at several lodges or just prefer to work with a real person on your bookings then you’ll enjoy the assistance of a real person, either at the lodges you’re enquiring at, or through someone like us. We work on your behalf throughout the booking process to ensure you get all your questions answered and all your wishes met.
- How are you planning to travel between lodges, or between the airports and the lodges? Most lodges offer some kind of transfer between themselves and the nearest airport. But often this doesn’t suit – maybe you’re arriving from another lodge, or are driving from elsewhere. Once again, having a real person to organise your lodge transfers, rental car or private connections can make the process easier and ensure that it all happens according to plan. How many times have you heard friends lamenting the fact their transfer wasn’t waiting for them, or the driver was a bit rough and ready, and left one of their bags in the back of the vehicle?
- What other activities do you want to do while you are in New Zealand? – maybe fishing isn’t the sole reason for your trip to New Zealand? Do you want to add on a few days mountain biking or hiking? Or sample some of the local wines and foods, or catch a few days playing golf. These things are all possible, but you’ll need to ensure you’re booking the right lodge so you’re close to your preferred activities.
- Do you have a non-fishing partner or friend travelling with you? Many of New Zealand’s lodges offer activities other than fishing, but you need to know which one is right for you. If you’re travelling with a non-fishing partner or friend you’ll need to know that they have access to activities to fill their days while you’re away fishing. Poronui, in the central North Island, has some excellent horse riding on their extensive property. Millbrook, near Queenstown, has a championship golf course on site and fabulous wineries nearby. The Farm at Cape Kidnappers, in Hawkes Bay, also has an excellent golf course, a large gannet colony in the vicinity, mountain biking and good hiking. While Blanket Bay and Millbrook also have excellent on-site spas. And the list goes on – some many things to choose from.
Give thought to what you really want from your trip and seek help to find the solutions. Email us with your requests or expectations and we’ll offer you the best solutions for your fishing trip. There is very often no extra cost to you, but you’ll have the satisfaction of a well-organised trip that gives you the best of what you planned for. Catching a great big fish isn’t the only request on most people’s wish lists.
(C) by Sue Farley 2016