New Zealand Part Two

I wonder how many globe trotting anglers know what Zealand means in New Zealand. Unlike New England, New York or New Orleans, the New in New Zealand isn’t just as simple as adding New to an existing place name. It was Dutch explorer Abel Tasman (Tasmania, Tasman Sea) who named the islands New Zeeland, meaning sea-land. Then, Capt. Cook changed the spelling to New Zealand.

No matter how you spell it, New Zealand should be on every fly fisher’s to-do-list. Every article on New Zealand repeats the same colorful descriptions of the clear, blue water, the amazing mountains and lakes, the friendly people, and the large rainbow and brown trout. Well, that’s because it is all that, and more.

The helicopter brought us to this river through the mountains in the distance. The flight was as memorable as the fishing. We spotted bank feeding trout to six pounds.

The following photos, taken in March 2023, will throw gas on those stereotypes as it is almost impossible to take a photo in New Zealand and not capture gorgeous mountains, lush green valleys, waterfalls, pastoral farmland, glaciers, trout water that blows your mind, smiling Kiwis, five-pound trout, ice cold beers, green lipped mussels, helicopters, wineries and so much more. My basecamp was Cedar Lodge, on the South Island near Wanaka. Might as well add great food, lodging, staff, and guides to the afore mentioned landscape descriptions. In a way, it is a great advantage that New Zealand is so far from North American and European tourists and fly anglers. If it was closer, Kiwis would be wise to build their own wall!

You expect to see large trout in places like this, but at times there were fish in wide shallow runs with no big rocks or overhanging trees. 
Helicopters are used throughout NZ, in agriculture, hunting and fishing. Like float planes in Alaska, they are the perfect tool for the job.
These places are etched into your mind forever. Before you leave, you are thinking about ways to come back!
Seriously? Can a place be more beautiful? Only if you include a great guide, eight nice trout all spotted, stalked, and landed on dry flies.
The guide crouches down and directs the cast. In this case the glare from the sun made it impossible for the angler to spot the fish. Prior to casting, the guide and angler will make a game plan and with softly spoken directions a hook up should result.
The result of a good cast and gentle coaching. Several of the guides at Cedar Lodge have been there since the 1990’s.
Fresh snow in the high country above Cedar Lodge. March is early fall on the South Island.
Intricate, artistic, and delicious.
A thick brown trout from a headwaters stream. It’s terrestrial season so bigger, high floating dry flies are the rule.
Pocket water hunting. The browns really blend in. The red stripe on the rainbows make spotting them easier.
An afternoon thunderstorm added some color to the water, but the trout were still on the prowl.
Shafts of light at the end of the day. Looks like the weather is changing. Will take a raincoat tomorrow.
Cheers Cedar Lodge, cheers New Zealand, don’t ever change.

Contributed By

Brian O’Keefe

Olympic gold medal gymnasts, springboard divers, ice skaters, etc. are often finished with their athletic careers at age 20, 25 or maybe 30. Fly fishers who start when they are 30 can enjoy this endeavor for another 45 years or more. And New Zealand is a place where people go back to year after year, always learning, always improving, or using past experiences to be successful today. Fly fishing should not be a casual, one weekend a year sport. The rewards come from years of exploring, experimenting, and expanding horizons. New Zealand trout fishing rewards beginners and experts alike. To some, landing that first trout on a dry fly seems like a miracle and to others, with years of experience, landing a big New Zealand trout reinforces their choice of fly, reading the currents, allowing for 30 inches of wind drift in the cast, waiting the almost impossible full second before setting the hook and fighting large trout on light tippets. It really never gets old, even if we do. For more information on Cedar Lodge, feel free to contact me here, and or go to Eleven Angling’s website –


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