Along a quiet country lane that winds its way through the Gowan River valley lies Lake Rotoroa Lodge. It is nestled at the northern tip of New Zealand’s spectacular Southern Alps. Far from the madding crowd, this isolated and unspoiled location is surrounded by the forests of the Nelson Lakes National Park. Lake Rotoroa is considered the jewel in the crown of the park: its tranquil waters reflect a magnificent vista of snow-capped mountains and lush native bush. In this exquisitely isolated spot, the sound of silence is broken by the indigenous tui, a distinctive song that interrupts the rustling of the breeze through the native bush joining the melodies of the many other species of native bird for which this area is renowned.
Lake Rotoroa Lodge Fishing:
New Zealand is one of the World’s most unique and challenging trout fisheries where anglers have the opportunity to spot their trout before casting to it. Sight fishing (which comprises roughly 75% of down under angling) is demanding and intense by Western fishing standards. The fish are large and wary, the streams and rivers in which they live are often crystal clear and interestingly enough, anglers are their only formidable natural predator.
As a result, Kiwi fish are can be very spooky. When stalking these fish, the perfect first cast is the ultimate weapon. Generally, the key to success down under is not the ability to make long casts but lies rather in the ability to make gentle, accurate presentations under pressure. More often than not, your target will be between 20 and 40 feet away. Anglers who embrace the necessary skills might expect to land three to four fish a day between three and five pounds, and while shots at larger fish will present themselves, hooking and landing the really large specimens should be considered a hard earned bonus, as opposed to a baseline expectation.
Lake Rotoroa Lodge Accommodation:
Lake Rotoroa lodge was built in the early 1920’s and has been wonderfully restored in recent history. Brass beds, quilted feather duvets and also contemporary en-suite facilities can be found in each of the Lodge’s ten guest rooms. Meals at Lake Rotoroa Lodge are potentially the highlight of every day. They are a wonderful taste of the country itself. The old world building combined with its contemporary art work and decor make it an elegant, yet informal New Zealand country house.
Lake Rotoroa Lodge Travel:
New Zealand is a long way away but the good news is that jet lag isn’t a big issue. The reason being that it is four hours earlier the next day. Do whatever you can to get some sleep on the plane and continue on with your travels. You will be tired but for the most part your schedule hasn’t changed all that much. Remember, that when you return home, you will typically arrive home on the same day that you left New Zealand – a valid passport is essential.
When coming into the country be forewarned that New Zealand is very concerned with invasive pests and plants entering the country. When you go through customs, you will be asked whether you have any camping gear, wading gear, fly tying materials, food, etc. Be sure to clean and dry all wading gear, hiking boots, ground cloths, tent floors and the like. Do not attempt to bring in any natural fly tying materials; grain or seed based foods, or meats such as jerky or salami. If the inspectors are not pleased with the condition of your personal items, they will take them and fumigate them while you wait. This generally takes about 15-30 minutes. Travelers typically arrive in Auckland. From Auckland it is an hour flight to the small town of Nelson. There you will be met by the shuttle service that will take you on the two hour drive to the lodge.
Lake Rotoroa Lodge Seasons:
November – December: This is considered the early season but it is truly one of our favorite times to fish down under. While water can be high and the weather can be a bit unsettled, the fish are typically far less spooky than later in the year. Pressure is low, as the Kiwis have not yet started their holiday and Western angler traffic is still minimal. Nymphing is the predominant technique, catch rates are high and the wild flowers are at their best.
January – February: This is without question the most popular time to visit New Zealand. The weather is at its best, water levels are typically stable, and the dry fly fishing peaks during these months. Angling pressure also peaks but with the aid of a good guide, you can still enjoy some solitude. These dates are best booked at least a year in advance.
March – April: By mid March expect the crowds to start dwindling and the weather to remains favorable. This is what we refer to as a “shoulder season” or a time when the fishing is still excellent but the crowds are gone. It is also the time when most of the season’s largest fish are taken.
May – September: This is the winter season and while most of the South Island fisheries are closed, the Taupo region of the North Island is at its best. During these months the Tongariro runs of landlocked steelhead peak and catch rates are high.
October: This is the opener for most of the streams and lakes in New Zealand. Like the opener here in the states the water levels and weather conditions are hard to bank on but a knowledgeable guide can still show some incredible fishing.