We highly recommend Lake Rotoroa Lodge for travelers who enjoy dry fly fishing in mountain streams or, if they don’t fish, want a place with lots of hiking trails and outdoor activities. This New Zealand fly fishing lodge has the patina from serving decades of fly fishers and adventurous travelers: a touch of unpretentious luxury on water’s edge with forested mountains dominating the skyline. The fishing guides are superb, and you need them to help you unlock the secrets of fishing crystal clear water where large brown trout are easily seen but not easily brought to the net. This is fly fishing of the highest order and a skilled angler will land maybe six or seven trout a day. There are over 20 streams that can be fished from the lodge, and there’s a helicopter available to get you deep into the backcountry on day trips. That means no stream is over fished and there will be good fishing somewhere close throughout the season from November to the end of April.
Food, service and attention to detail are all up to Orvis standards at this world class fly fishing lodge.
There’s a lot to do in the National Park region, and this is a good area to mix up fishing with other pursuits such as hiking the numerous trails, kayaking on the lake, excursions to the wine country in Marlborough, or just relaxing in scenic, natural surroundings. If you have a traveling companion who does not fish, they will find plenty to do here at Nelson Lakes National Park.
Lake Rotoroa Lodge is renowned as lying in the heart of the South Island's "big fish" country, and gives you access to more fishing than any other New Zealand lodge. Rotoroa has more than 22 rivers to choose from by car on a normal weather day and even more by helicopter. This is one of Rotoroa's great strengths. It allows them to rest their waters, offering a great mix of fishing experiences from the more productive waters to the more challenging for the fish of a lifetime. With numerous rivers and diverse locations, fishing options in inclement weather are greatly improved. We cannot promise that you will have perfect fishing every day, but we believe that Rotoroa Lodge is a great deal more weatherproof than many other areas. Browse our New Zealand fly fishing reviews to read more about Lake Rotoroa Lodge.
Lake Rotoroa Lodge is located at the north end of the South Island, about 90 minutes south of Nelson. You can fly into Nelson from Auckland, the major international gateway.
Lake Rotoroa Lodge sits right on the edge of the Nelson Lakes National Park on the shores of the park’s largest lake, Lake Rotoroa. This park protects 252,000 acres (102,000 ha) of the northern most Southern Alps. During the last Ice Age massive glaciers gouged out troughs in the mountainous headwaters of the Buller River; today these troughs are filled by Lakes Rotoiti and Rotoroa, surrounded by craggy mountains.
The vegetation is predominantly beech, with the red and silver species growing in lower, warmer sites and mountain beech at higher altitudes. The bush line, where forest gives way to alpine plants, is a remarkable feature of the park; the change is abrupt and uniform. In summer the alpine fell fields teem with flowers of white, light blue and sometimes yellow. The forests are full of birds like tomtits, tui, robins and the tiny rifleman, New Zealand's smallest bird. South Island kakas are also present. A highlight in the park is the Rotoiti Nature Recovery Project, which aims to create a pest-free refuge for the recovery and re-introduction of native species in the area. While similar restoration efforts have been made for years on New Zealand's offshore islands, the 2040 acre (825 ha) Rotoiti project is part of a national program aimed at extending these successes onto the mainland through the creation of island-like refuges, known as ‘mainland islands’. It provides an ideal opportunity to see conservation work at first hand, and to enjoy and appreciate the unique natural attractions.
5 night, 4 day fishing trip
If you are flying into Nelson on the first day of your trip and have requested an airport transfer you will be met by an Orvis Travel representative and transferred directly to the lodge. The trip takes about 1½ hours so you should plan on arriving in Nelson no later than 5:00 PM to arrive at the lodge in time for the regularly scheduled dinner. If you arrive later, the lodge will prepare a late dinner for you. If you are visiting other destinations in the area, or not planning to fish every day while at the lodge, then it might be a good idea to rent a car. If you do this Orvis Travel will provide you with driving directions from the airport to the lodge. You can check into your room any time after 2:00 PM. When you arrive at Lake Rotoroa Lodge you will be met by your hosts and given a tour of the lodge. If you want you can settle into your room and rest, take a stroll or wet your line in front of the lodge. Cocktails are served in the lodge bar beginning at 7:00 PM followed by dinner at 7:30 PM.
Tea and coffee is ready beginning at 6:30 AM. A full American breakfast will be served in the dining room at 7:30 AM. You will meet with your guide around 8:15 AM and after a quick discussion and last minute gear check you will be on your way to the water. If you have opted for heli-fishing, the flights average around 20 minutes. If you are driving expect an average drive time of around 45 minutes. At midday you will take a break from fishing and enjoy a gourmet picnic lunch prepared by your guide. The fishing day usually ends in the late afternoon with a helicopter flight or drive back to the lodge, usually arriving around 5:30 PM. Upon your return you will be met by a member of the staff and escorted to the lodge’s covered deck for drinks and snacks with the guides. This is your chance to unwind, discuss your day and start planning for the next day. At 7:00 PM cocktails, drinks and appetizers are served in the bar. A three course dinner will be served in the lodge dining room at 7:30 PM each evening. After dinner it is customary to retire to the bar area for tea, coffee, night caps and petit fours.
Although you can catch an early flight out of Nelson today, most flights depart in the afternoon. The lodge typically offers a later breakfast on departure day so you can sleep in if you want to. Check out time is 10:00 am but you are welcome to stay in the lodge if you have a later departure. If you don’t plan on leaving the lodge until early afternoon then it may be possible to set up a half day guided fishing trip. If you book a half day guide trip you will be back to the lodge by 12:30 PM. If you have requested a private transfer you will be taken back to the airport in Nelson in time for your flights home or on to your next destination in New Zealand. Orvis Travel has a network of outstanding lodges in New Zealand and will be happy to recommend your next destination as well as help with the arrangements.
Their reputation draws anglers from far and wide in search of a trophy brown trout and each year good numbers in excess of 10 pounds are taken.
All of the fishing around Lake Rotoroa Lodge is tackled by spotting fish with your guide and casting a nymph or dry fly upstream. When fishing as a pair with a guide, fishermen will take it in turns to work a fish. For the other fisherman, this is often an opportunity to rest, have a drink, take photographs or simply watch without the pressure to perform! Sometimes a fish will be taken first cast while others will take an hour or more - the latter are often the most entertaining.
Often the guide will invite you to try the dry fly, before going to the nymphs, if the fish is well "up" in the water and active. Your dry flies will be larger attractor patterns in the early season but will reduce in size as the season goes on. The nymphs used will depend on the depth and speed of the water. With the new weighted systems, the guides can now get a tiny nymph very deep in fast water without their guests feeling like there is a stone on the end of their rod.
Fly-fishing in New Zealand is not a numbers game. Rather, it is the epitome of classic upstream trout fishing to "high stakes" fish that demand a certain amount of skill. Although a skilled angler may land as many as 20 trout or more in a day, three or four fish per day that average 4-6 pounds is a much more common occurrence. Of course, that "per day" number doesn't take into account the fish spotted, opportunities presented, or time spent working fish.
This is a great area for hiking, paddling on the lake, birding, or taking a drive to the coast. Lake Rotoroa Lodge is centrally located in the Nelson Lakes area and the west and east coast are close enough for day trips. The Marlborough wine district is less than an hour’s drive. In addition to self guided walks and tours, the lodge has an outdoor guide on staff and offers a wide range of guided activities. Guided tours can be set up prior to arrival or in some cases the evening before.
Guided activities include some of the following:
Here’s a description of just one of many popular hikes:
Walks at the End of the Lake
Sabine and D’Urville Many say that the only way to really appreciate the beauty of Lake Rotoroa is to take a boat trip to the end of the lake. The Sabine and D’Urville Rivers flow into the southern end of Lake Rotoroa. There are numerous walks and hikes which showcase the beauty of this conservation area. Three examples are described, but there are many others, such as to the peak of Mount Misery, which are equally stunning.
Lake Rotoroa Lodge was built in the early 1920s, and has been lovingly restored and protected to this day. The ten individual guestrooms, which have en-suite bathrooms, include brass beds replete with feather quilts. Add to that some eccentricities in the décor, artworks, fixtures and fittings and the result is a charming and comfortable New Zealand country lodge.
The hallway on the ground floor of the two-story lodge captures your attention the moment you enter the front door. It contains an eclectic mix of objects d'art, paintings, stag trophies from the lodge's early days and, of course, the occasional trout. The sitting room and bar is immediately to the right of the entrance hall with a large picture window which frames a stunning view of the lake and the dramatic mountain peaks of the Travers Range: Misery, Cupola, Hopeless and Angelus. In the evening, guests gather around the bar to tell stories of the day's fishing, to recommend a glorious walk or a place visited.
Passing the lodge's well-stocked wine cellar, pausing only to more closely examine yet another item of quirky memorabilia, guests arrive at the lodge's elegant dining room, which shares a view of the lake that is almost identical to that recently enjoyed in the sitting room. Here fine dinners are enjoyed, complemented by wines from the region's world-renowned vineyards.
You will enjoy fresh, contemporary New Zealand food at the lodge, with an emphasis on locally grown, fresh ingredients. The coast is not very far and fresh fish or shellfish is often on the menu, accompanied by one of the good white wines of the Marlborough region to the east. All meals are included and the lodge serves a hearty breakfast, a lunch at the lodge or in the field, and a memorable dinner that might be rack of lamb, bouillabaisse, marinated salmon, or venison.
There’s a substantial collection of interesting New Zealand wine in the cellar and this is a good place to sample some of the wines you won’t find outside the country. You won’t be disappointed by the food and wine.
The Marlborough winegrowing area is an hour or so by car from Lake Rotoroa Lodge and it has become New Zealand's largest and best known winegrowing area even though the first vines were planted in 1973. The free-draining, alluvial loams over gravelly subsoils in the Wairau and Awatere River valleys provides ideal growing conditions. Abundant sunshine with cool nights and a long growing season helps to build and maintain the vibrant fruit flavors for which Marlborough is now famous. Sauvignon Blanc is the most planted grape variety with Chardonnay in second place, followed by Pinot Noir and Riesling. Sauvignon Blanc may be the star but Marlborough has also earned an enviable reputation for Méthode Traditionelle sparkling wines as well as a wide range of both white and red table wines.
Season: October 1, 2012 - April 30, 2013
Orvis Travel Inclusive Package Rates as of September 1, 2012:
|Duration||Per person, double occupancy||Single supplement*|
|3 night, 2 day fishing package||$2060||$995|
|4 night, 3 day fishing package||$2860||$1455|
|5 night, 4 day fishing package||$3660||$1895|
Rates in US dollars for several popular packages.
All meals and accommodations, guided fishing, rod & reel, waders, soft drinks, local taxes, laundry facilities, Wi-Fi Internet and use of lodge computer.
Airfare to Nelson, ground transfers, alcoholic beverages, laundry service by lodge staff (available for a small charge), fishing license, phone calls, items of a personal nature.