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 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!
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 – www.elevenangling.com.