New Zealand Day 17 – 02/03/2018

New Zealand Day 17 02/03/2018 Photo Album

Our itinerary required us to traverse southern New Zealand from Te Anau to Dunedin on Saturday. We crossed from the west coast to the east coast of the South Island, if one includes our two hour return from Milford Sound on Friday. The route provided unending views of paddocks (fields) populated by sheep, cows, deer, and beets. Deer are raised extensively in New Zealand as a source of domesticated meat, and venison is a standard item on most restaurant menus.

The weather turned quite chilly, and the high temperature in Dunedin peaked in the mid-50’s. It was a radical change from the heat wave we experienced during the middle week of our roadtrip. We found our lodging at Euro 315 in the center of Dunedin, and then Jane and I strolled down George Street to a food court in a mall, where we split and inhaled a lamb souvlaki. We returned to the hotel by 2PM to check in, and then we surveyed the city map and embarked on a two hour walking tour.

First we searched for a bike hire business called Bike Otago, but we were unable to locate it and concluded the shop moved. Next we sought the New Zealand Shop on the Octagon, and Jane purchased a gift for our cleaning person. The third stop was the Cadbury World chocolate factory on Cumberland, but we declined the tour and instead purchased a Cadbury Caramello bar.

Jane Bought a Caramello

A bit of backtracking took us to Stuart Street, and then we intersected with the historical Dunedin railway station. It was a fine piece of architecture surrounded by manicured landscaping. We browsed the station a bit, and then we returned to the Octagon via Stuart Street, and there we selected the Thistle as our preferred establishment for happy hour. Jane sipped a glass of wine, while I sipped a hot cup of tea in keeping with my ongoing cold. From here we returned to the Euro 315, and we reserved bicycles for a half day of touring on Sunday via a phone call using our Skinny mobile service.

The Landmark Railway Station in Dunedin

During our walk we identified a Japanese restaurant called Tokyo Garden that was advertising a pork ramen special, so this became our destination for an evening meal. Salmon and chicken sushi preceded our ramen bowls, and we were both quite pleased with our meal. After dinner we made sure to return to the Euro 315 before Nick of Dunedin iBikes dropped off two bicycles and helmets for our Sunday ride. We concluded our travel day with a visit to the New World Market, where we bought a few breakfast items.

New Zealand Day 16 – 02/02/2018

New Zealand Day 16 02/02/2018 Photo Album

After a day that featured extended drenching rain on Thursday, Jane and I reveled in the gorgeous weather that arrived on Friday. The storm moved on, the skies cleared, and cooler temperatures developed, as we completed the two hour drive from Te Anau to Milford Sound. We began our journey at 7:00AM, and this early departure enabled us to arrive at Milford Sound in time to snag a parking space in the closest lot to the terminal. This meant no shuttle was required, and we had fairly easy access to the minivan in case we forgot something.

Looking Back as the Lady Bowen Pulls Away

We finished the short ten minute walk to the tour cruise terminal building and registered for our 10:30 tour and kayak adventure. The young lady behind the counter informed us that we were eligible to grab a 9:45AM departure, so we jumped at the option. Jane and I boarded the Lady Bowen and snagged prime spots on the lower bow of the boat, and we were pleased to learn that the wind was behind us on the outbound leg.

Bowen Falls on Our Right

We passed a ridiculous number of waterfalls, and our guide explained that the heavy rain on Thursday boosted the volume of water cascading down the steep fiord walls. Jeremy added that Milford Sound is one of the wettest places on earth. As we approached one of the more voluminous falls along the left side of the fiord, Jeremy instructed one of the galley mates to bring two racks of glasses to the front. The young man dutifully responded and placed the racks on the smooth flat area on top of the wall on the bow, and then the pilot of the boat taxied beneath the waterfalls to fill the empty cups. Earlier Jeremy informed our group that the water was so pure, that one could safely drink it, and he was about to make his point.

Approaching Another Falls for a Close Look

As if this were not enough excitement, my dear wife, Jane, remained stationary, as she guarded the glasses with her life, and then the ice cold glacial melt pummeled her from above. Even the guide was astonished by her act of bravery. I remained on the front deck long enough to snap a photo and video clip, and even this brief exposure caused my fleece and shoes to get wet, before I scurried into the cabin. Jane on the other hand toughed it out and drenched two layers of clothing in the process. Fortunately she had the presence of mind to stuff her phone beneath the wet outer layers.

Jane Next to the Racks of Glasses

A Larger Colony of Seals

We continued on our way and viewed several colonies of fur seals and numerous gulls of varying sizes. When we reached the mouth of Milford Sound, we reversed our course and made our way to the Underwater Discovery Center. Here the kayakers were outfitted with life jackets and rain pants, and Jane and I climbed into our single crafts. The guide lowered the platform, until we were floating in the ocean, and like a cluster of bumper cars we managed to exit the covered shed and headed to the sound.

A Pro

Fighting the Current

We paddled into the mouth of the Harrison River and listened to the guides relate Maori legends. As this transpired, we drifted over a patch of aquatic grass, and we instantly became a tasty buffet for the resident sand flies. The stories finally ended, and Jane and I bolted up the river against the swift current. I made it two-thirds of the way toward the top of the inlet before every stroke merely served to offset the velocity of the current, and I was paddling in place. We turned around and glided back with the aid of the current, and then we completed a large circle and arrived back at the launch shed.

Jane in Relaxation Mode…Finally

After we returned our gear and enjoyed a brief rest, we descended to the Deep Water Emergence. Because a layer of tannin colored fresh water blankets the lower layer of ocean water, creatures that normally only live in the dark depths of the ocean occupy Milford Sound. The Deep Water Emergence experience enabled us to view a variety of life from the deep. This viewing time concluded the tour, and we boarded the small cruise ship and returned to the terminal building.

The Stream That Created the Chasm

On the return drive to Te Anau Brenda, John, Jane and I stopped once to complete a short hike to The Chasm, and at a few additional overlooks to snap photos. When we returned to Te Anau, Jane and I battled the wind and walked downtown to The Ranch, where we both enjoyed lamb shank dinners. Yum.

New Zealand Day 15 – 02/01/2018

New Zealand Day 15 02/01/2018 Photo Album

Thursday was once again a travel day, and we spent most of the morning driving from Glenorchy to Te Anau. Steady blowing and drenching rain persisted during our entire trip, and it continued throughout the afternoon in Te Anau.

Fiordland Film Got Us Excited

It was an ideal day to rest and catch up on some chores. Jane and I finished two loads of laundry, and then I enjoyed a brief nap, while she walked downtown in the rain. While on her stroll she stopped at the Southern Discoveries office, and she made inquiries regarding proper outdoor wear for our boat cruise and kayaking adventure. The folks at Southern Discoveries recommended a thirty minute film on Fiordland National Park; so Jane, Brenda, John and I caught the 6PM showing. The cinematography and aerial shots were breathtaking, and we all eagerly anticipated our boat tour on Friday.

Excellent Pizza

After the film we walked a few blocks to Ristorante Pizzeria Paradiso, where I was pleased to discover vegan non-dairy cheese was available for my pizza. It was a small thing, but much appreciated nonetheless.

Diamond River (Day 14) – 01/31/2018

Time: 11:00AM – 2:00PM

Location: Diamond River

Diamond River (Day 14) 01/31/2018 Photo Album

A Morning Rainbow in Glenorchy

Gale force winds greeted us on Wednesday morning in Glenorchy. At one point I stepped outside and marveled at a huge rainbow in the southern sky, so I returned to the room and snatched my camera for a couple photos. The change in weather was welcome after the last week of intensely hot weather, but wind is a four letter word for fly fishermen. My guide on Tuesday, Nick, suggested that I return to the Diamond River on Wednesday and even showed me the best section and productive techniques. When I heard the rushing air on Wednesday morning, I decided to take my time, and for this reason Jane and I did not reach the carpark until 10:25.

Jane Captured My Cast Nicely

Jane brought her book and beach towel, and we tramped for thirty minutes, until I reached the lower end of the section suggested by Nick. The wind was already in a blustering state, but I spotted a couple sporadic rises, so I unhooked my blow fly and began to cast. In the middle of the stream I noticed a decent brown trout, as it darted to the surface and snatched some form of unidentifiable food. I executed quite a few drifts over this area between frustrating gusts of wind, but I was unable to interest the sighted fish in another meal.

Ready for Action

As this scenario was playing out, I observed a couple splashy rises ten feet out from the opposite bank. I responded and moved upstream, until I was above the last rise, and I began shooting casts toward the far shore. With each cast I extended the drift ten feet. I also adopted the ploy suggested by Nick of walking downstream at the same pace as the fly to avoid drag, and then allowed the blow fly to swing across the river, until it was below me. Finally I extended the rod over the water and stripped line to bring the fly back toward me, and then I allowed the fly to drift downstream along the near bank, while I wiggled my rod tip and fed line. The entire process enabled me to prospect for bank dwellers on both sides of the river with relatively long drag free drifts.

Quite a Bend

I repeated this sequence three times, and on the fourth circuit a fish slashed at the dry fly, as it began to drag across the river. This elevated my optimism, since my fly was attracting interest, and it identified the location of a trout. Another cast and drift was ignored, but on the following effort after a long twelve foot drift, a nose emerged, and a fish chomped on the fly. I responded with a swift hook set, and a combative brown trout responded with a noble battle. I was forced to slide down the bank, where a tiny side creek entered the river in order to be in a solid position to fight and net the brawler on the end of my leader. I applied side pressure and guided the brown just below me, and then it made several attempts to dive into some thick aquatic moss. I was having none of it and managed to leverage it into my undersized net. The curled fish in front of me was heavy and in the eighteen inch range. While this episode was unfolding, Jane snapped some photos and video clips. What a thrill! I landed my first quality New Zealand trout without the assistance of a guide.

Best Fish Landed Without a Guide

A Bigger Smile

After this bit of fun, Jane and I moved upstream at a slow pace, as I scanned the river for additional surface feeding activity. The constant wind made spotting rises and fish quite a challenge. I stopped a couple times in quality segments to employ the Nick Clark cycle method, but I never observed another rise. The ferocity of the wind accelerated, so we decided to move directly to the lake. Nick suggested that I should not underestimate the lake, as quite a few large trout cruised the shoreline looking for food.

Wildflowers by the Lake

Whitecaps greeted us at the outlet from the lake, and I quickly abandoned any thoughts of fishing. We sat in the midst of some small yellow wildflowers and snacked, while we admired the spectacular scenery.

Showing the Photographer

On the return hike I stopped at two locations and blasted some casts toward the far bank. After the wind generated a discouraging tangle, I replaced the blow fly with a Jake’s gulp beetle. On a downstream drift ten feet out from the bank that I was standing on, a small brown trout elevated and nosed the terrestrial. Two casts later I drifted the beetle through the same area, and the eleven inch brown crushed it. Catching a fish on a fly I tied was my last action on Wednesday, as the wind raged with utter fierceness. In fact when we returned to the Bold Peak Lodge later in the afternoon, we discovered that there was a “power cut” (outage), because some trees between Queenstown and Glenorchy were blown down on power lines.

Creaky Dock at Kinloch Lodge

After we stowed our gear in the van, we drove farther around the lake to Kinloch. The Kinloch Lodge was recommended by our New Zealand travel advisor, but we were unable to secure a booking because vacancies were not available on the dates we stayed in the area. We wanted to see what we were missing. The lodge rested on a hill overlooking Lake Wakatipu, and it appeared to be a charming and well maintained establishment. It was obviously a step up from the Bold Peak Lodge, but Jane and I were not exceptionally disappointed.

Fish Landed: 2



Diamond River (Day 13) – 01/30/2018

Time: 3:00PM – 5:00PM

Location: Thirty minutes from the carpark.

Diamond River (Day 13) 01/30/2018 Photo Album

After we departed from the Routeburn River, Nick headed back toward Glenorchy to the Diamond River carpark. Nick described the Diamond as a spring creek, and it did in fact display spring creek characteristics. It flowed consistently between high banks, and thick aquatic vegetation lined the riverbed. The water projected a deep green color similar to the Pennsylvania spring creeks that I grew up near rather than the blue aqua shade of other New Zealand streams such as the just vacated Routeburn.

Attractive Deep Run

While I fished sporadically during the remaining two hours of my guided fishing day, Nick was mainly preparing me for a solo trip on Wednesday. He told me that under more advantageous conditions, fish rose frequently and consequently were fairly easy to spot. On Tuesday late afternoon, however, the wind was brutal, the air temperature was oppressive, and six fishermen had just pounded the area. We knew this because we passed them on their way back to the carpark.

Diamond River Is a Jewel

Nick demonstrated how to cast across the stream to the opposite bank and then walk downstream with the pace of the current to enable a long drag free drift. This step was followed by a surface swing, and then he walked back upstream while extending the rod out over the stream as far as possible. The last tactic was to feed out line to create a nice downstream presentation along the bank. It was readily obvious to me that this cycle created several long drag free drifts along each bank, and typically those areas are the home of large brown trout. I was sold. I practiced this technique a few times and managed a refusal over a light colored shelf on one circuit.

Ready to Catch Some Fish

Within the last thirty minutes I shot some long casts to the far bank, and as I shuffled through the grass, the fly drifted fifteen feet when a large mouth appeared. I paused, and just as Nick shouted “set”, I reacted and felt the momentary weight of the hook catching the lip of a decent fish. Alas that was the best I could on the Diamond River, but the two hours whet my appetite for a return visit on Wednesday.

Routeburn River (Day 13) – 01/30/2018

Time: 9:00AM – 2:30PM

Location: Routeburn River

Routeburn River (Day 13) 01/30/2018 Photo Album

I scheduled a solo day of guided fishing out of Glenorchy on Tuesday, January 30. My left eye was once again sealed shut when I woke up in the morning; however, I began using the antibiotic drops that Brenda procured for her eye, and the medication seemed to show signs of effectiveness. I was not feeling great, but I swallowed the prescribed dose of cold medicine and stuffed more in my pocket for later in the day. I was not about to let a cold ruin a day of guided fly fishing in the Southland Region of New Zealand.

My Guide’s Fly Box

My guide, Nick Clark, picked me up at 7:30 at the Bold Peak Lodge. Tuesday developed into another very hot day with the high around 30 degrees C. We drove a short distance and began our fishing adventure on the Routeburn River. I waded wet, and throughout the day I was quite pleased with my decision. I began fishing in a section of the river that was characterized by fast water with many pockets, deep runs, and short pools. Nick set me up with an irresistible, and I began prospecting the likely spots. Tuesday on the Routeburn was my closest New Zealand experience to my favored style of Colorado fishing. The water was very similar to Colorado high gradient streams, and Nick actually commended my casting, pace, and ability to keep the line off the water to prevent drag. It was confidence boosting to receive positive feedback on my casting compared to suggestions for improvement.

Absolutely Stunning Water

In the early going I landed two rainbow trout in the eleven inch range on the irresistible. While I was blind casting to likely holding positions, Nick scanned the water ahead and spotted larger trout, and this supplemented my style with some exciting sight fishing. One of the first such encounters with a larger fish resulted in a refusal. I lifted the rod quickly and flicked a cast to the left, although Nick actually implored me to strip the line in for a fly change. I instinctively tossed the cast before I heard his command, and I never saw my fly, but Nick followed it and saw a fish eat. He shouted “set”, and I reacted quickly, but the fly came hurtling back toward us. I was disappointed by this sequence, but nevertheless exhilarated by the short jolt of action.

We Began with an Irresistible

For a few of the football shaped dark spots sighted, Nick changed the top fly to a Goddard caddis and then later a parachute Adams. He also experimented with a pheasant tail nymph dropper, but these moves failed to deliver results. We concluded that the big boys were extra moody and quite skittish.

At one point the parachute Adams got snagged on an overhanging rock, and Nick instructed me to break it off. I did so, and as he searched his box for a replacement, I asked if we could try one of the hippy stompers I recently tied. Nick was game to try something new, so he knotted one with a peacock dubbed body to my line. The change paid off somewhat, as I landed two small rainbows in short order. My confidence in the hippy stomper temporarily elevated, but after fifteen minutes of prospecting some delightful fast areas with no interest from the trout, we reverted to the irresistible.

So Clear

The next sequence was the highlight of my day. A nice deep wide run flowed along a large bank side rock that displayed a white high water mark stripe along the top edge. As we moved closer, Nick and I simultaneously spotted a solid rise within a couple feet of the opposite bank toward the tail of the run. I positioned myself slightly above and across from the scene of the rise, and I began to shoot casts increasingly closer to the far bank. As I was doing this, the target fish came into view, and we could both identify it as a tantalizing large rainbow. On the fifth cast I placed the irresistible within two feet of the rock with the stripe, and it slid downstream along the base of the rock wall with no response.

Lovely Pink Stripe

I extended another cast to within a foot of the rock, and unlike the previous cast I allowed the fly to dead drift to the very lip of the run. Just before the dry fly was due to drag next to an exposed boulder, a mouth appeared, and it crushed the spun deer hair attractor. Nick shouted “set”, and I reacted simultaneously with his instruction. Now the fight was on. Initially the rainbow shot upstream, and I managed to apply side pressure and brought it to a position twenty-five feet directly above me. But then the resisting trout had other thoughts. It made four successive runs downstream, and I recklessly followed over slippery boulders and rocks while applying side pressure. I was reenacting scenes that I witnessed on Instagram. In a last ditch effort the trout raced into some fairly fast pocket water and stopped next to a large exposed boulder closer to the opposite bank. I lifted my rod high above my head and waded to the middle of the river and coaxed the recalcitrant fish between two rocks and then added side pressure and brought it to the bank below me, where Nick scooped it. High fives broke out, and I admired a New Zealand rainbow trout in excess of twenty inches.

Big Shoulders

We continued our upstream progression, and I added another ten inch rainbow and a twelve inch brown to the fish count. Both of these fish showed a preference for the irresistible. We stopped for lunch at 12:30PM, and after a forty-five minute snack, we resumed the upstream dry fly prospecting. The quality of the water declined, and the temperature rose, so we decided to return to the car in order to move to another stream at 2:30.

Fish Landed: 7


New Zealand Day 12 – 01/29/2018

New Zealand Day 12 01/29/2018 Photo Album

Monday morning I woke up with my left eye sealed shut from the cold I recently acquired. The eye remained an issue throughout the day, so I purchased some eye drops in Queenstown. We packed up and departed Wanaka by 9AM, and this enabled us to reach Queenstown by 10:30AM. In the morning after our arrival Jane and I browsed some shops and purchased gifts for the kids and their significant others.

When we planned our trip to New Zealand, we read that Queenstown was the bustling hub of the Southland Region, and a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts. We decided to bypass the touristy town and stay in Glenorchy, a small town near the northern tip of Lake Wakatipu. We did not, however, wish to skip the Queenstown experience entirely, so Monday was our day to gauge whether the tour books were accurate or not.

Hang Gliding Over Lake Wakatipu

As we walked into Queenstown along Beach Street, I attempted to capture a quick video clip of a paraglider, and my camera displayed a message stating that the micro card was full. I instantly overreacted and went into panic mode, since nearly half our New Zealand trip remained. I was not about to complete the rest of our bucket list vacation without the ability to take photos and movies. Once we reached the business district, we stopped at a tour guide service, and the young lady behind the counter directed us to a camera shop. A short three block walk brought us to the store, and I purchased a 16 GB micro card. This represented eight times the capacity of the card that I maxed out, so I was satisfied that I possessed adequate storage for the remainder of the trip.

Our traveling companions, the Prices, took the gondola ride that was anchored in town near the central shopping district, while Jane and I found a Vietnamese restaurant and slurped down bowls of pho. Needless to say the Asian soup felt wonderful on my burgeoning sore throat.

Jane Pauses Next to a Wall Near Our Turnaround

After lunch we hired bikes at Cardrona Bicylces for half a day. At the outset we inched our way through the busy city to the Queenstown waterfront pathway, and then we cycled for 45 minutes to Frankton, which was near the outlet of Lake Wakatipu. We crossed the outlet and continued for a short distance toward the Kelvin Peninsula, but by then our allotted outbound time expired, and we were feeling the effects of the heat, so we reversed our direction and returned.

Swimmers Enjoy the Cool Water on a Hot Summer Day in January

With our cycling exercise behind us we strolled back to the van and met the Prices, who were watching a shark-shaped speed boat navigate the harbor. The small vessel periodically disappeared below the surface of the lake and then launched four or five feet in the air before crashing back with a huge splash. I’m sure this was an exciting ride for the thrill seeking tourists. We were about to depart, when hydro man appeared!

This insane individual had jet packs attached to his feet and a long hose connected to a pump that was mounted on the rear of a large personal watercraft. He dazzled the beach spectators with an array of flips, dives and tumbles. Our jaws dropped with this never before seen display of water sport athleticism. Hydro man was the highlight of our day on January 29 in Queenstown.

I Dubbed This Guy Hydroman

Finally with the end of the free entertainment we drove another forty-five minutes to Glenorchy, where we checked into the Bold Peak Lodge. Our first assigned room was a sauna bath above a noisy bar, so we mildly complained to the manager, and he moved us to a smaller unit on the shady east side of the building away from the bar. We unpacked our bags, and then visited the Bold Peak Cafe (the source of the noise) for passable pub fare.

New Zealand Day 11 – 01/28/2018

New Zealand Day 11 01/28/2018 Photo Album

Sunday in Wanaka was a bit of a rest and relaxation break for Dave; whereas, Jane accepted the challenge of kayaking the Clutha River. She signed up for guided kayaking in the lake the previous day, so she was surprised when the truck and kayak trailer stopped to unload along the Clutha. I suspect that she was the only customer for the lake option, and the kayak touring company combined her with another couple from the U.S. to avoid paying two guides and two drivers. It all worked out, and Jane smiled from ear to ear, when she returned, as she described her exploits on moving water.

A Sunday Morning Stand Up Paddle Boarder and Loyal Friend on Lake Wanaka

I, meanwhile, came down with a cold, so after a tasty breakfast at the Wanaka Springs Lodge, Jane and I completed a one hour stroll along the lakefront, and on the return we stopped at the Mt. Aspiring Pharmacy. I searched for and found the closest New Zealand equivalent to Dayquil and Nyquil and eagerly made the purchase. I popped a pair of cold pills and spent the remainder of the morning organizing and deleting photos, since my phone was displaying warnings about the lack of storage space.

After lunch I saw Jane off on her kayak venture, and then I enjoyed a two hour nap in our mildly warm room. Jane returned at 5PM and after showers, we walked downtown and consumed an excellent dinner at The Spice Room. I tried a new dish called biryani comprised of basmati rice and lamb, and I was more than satisfied.

Waitaki River (Day 10) – 01/27/2018

Time: 9:00AM – 5:00PM

Location: Below several dams

Waitaki River (Day 10) 01/27/2018 Photo Album

Originally John and I were scheduled to float fish the Clutha River on Saturday, January 27 with our guide Greg, but he contacted us one day prior and offered another destination that was a longer drive, but offered the likelihood of more and larger trout. John and I conferred and elected the longer drive scenario. The extra 1.5 hour travel time translated to an earlier departure, and Greg gathered us and our gear at 7AM at the Wanaka Springs Lodge.

Our Starting Point with Guide Greg on January 27

After an uneventful drive we arrived at a location below an upstream dam, and Greg unloaded the inflatable raft and then shuttled the SUV and trailer to the take out point. John and I fished below a bridge, while Greg rode his dirt bike back to the launch point. The air temperature spiked in the 90’s, but I never felt overheated. We stopped frequently along our route and climbed out of the raft to wade fish, and since I was wearing my wet wading garb, I was continually refreshed by the cool river water.

At each wading location Greg set John and I up in likely fish holding spots. He spotted fish and coached one of us, while the other client was encouraged to fish independently. We enjoyed a fun day, as Greg provided numerous opportunities for us to cast over large sighted fish. Most of our approaches required long accurate casts, and the afternoon wind increased the challenge of this endeavor.

The first fish that I hooked was a rainbow trout that stripped line from the reel at an outrageous pace. This incident was the first in my fly fishing life, where the fish completely unraveled the fly line, so that all that was left on my reel was backing. Much to my chagrin the nymph eventually popped free in heavy water downstream, and I invested a significant amount of time winding the line back on the reel. Greg suggested  that there was not much I could do about the situation, since the rainbow immediately bolted for the fast heavy chute next to the place where it was hooked. Nevertheless I was disappointed to miss an opportunity to land a powerful New Zealand rainbow trout.

A bit after this episode I fished a hares ear nymph without an indicator, and as the fly began to swing at the end of the drift, I felt a heavy throbbing weight. Fortunately for me this fish essentially hooked itself, and I battled the angry river resident for ten minutes, but after several powerful moves, I guided it into Greg’s net. Greg estimated the brown trout to be 26 inches, and this represented a personal best brown trout by two inches.

My First Fish of the Day and Personal Record

After lunch I hooked another nice trout on a blow fly, but it raced down the river at a frightful pace. I followed it as best I could, but then it suddenly stopped, and I managed to regain a bit of line. Suddenly the brown resumed its downstream streak, and I could tell that the powerful fish succeeded in wrapping the leader around its body. It was not long, before the combination of the downstream move and the wrapped line caused the blow fly to break free. I chastised myself for the one out of three landing performance, and we moved on.

Greg and John by the Raft

The drift continued, and Greg spotted two fish in close proximity to each other. I hurled ten casts to the large visible upper shadow, and eventually it spooked, but I continued to pursue the downstream trout with additional casts. On the third toss the remaining visible fish crushed the blow fly. The fight was on, and again after several spurts and deep dives accompanied by head shaking, I guided the heavy fish over Greg’s net. I experienced another South Island thrill, and I smiled, as I examined a 24 inch gem.

Not As Large as Number One, but Much Appreciated

During the course of the day we drifted a short distance, since we stopped to wade fish most of the time. Near the takeout Greg pulled the raft on an island, and he and I waded upstream and began chucking a sink tip line with a black woolly bugger. In a deep trough where the river dropped off a gravel ledge, I made a long drift and then stripped the streamer perpendicular to the shelf. I felt a bump and made another strip, and then a stronger grab transferred through the line. It was at this moment that I made the mistake of stripping again, and the fish and my line separated. My streamer instructors at Montana Fly Company taught me to continue stripping and to not set the hook, but in this case the second grab indicated that the fish was already on my line. I expected a stronger hit from the large aggressive fish, but I suspect the depth of the water and the fairly strong current offset some of the energy transfer. Given the deep trough and the faster run, Greg was certain that my lost trout was a rainbow.

The Blue Water Looked Like a Quality Spot

Saturday was a fun day on a different type of water in New Zealand. I liked the sprawling tailwater that featured numerous braids with riffles and runs of moderate depth. Once again I was amazed by the ability of New Zealand guides to spot fish from a distance. Greg offered me numerous opportunities to connect with large wild trout, and unfortunately I broke off two fish, failed to land another hooked fish, and spooked several through a lack of accurate casting.

Upon our return to Wanaka, Jane and I dined at Speight’s Ales House. The town was quite active with numerous patrons dining al fresco on a warm Saturday night.

Fish Landed: 2

New Zealand Day 9 – 01/26/2018

New Zealand Day 9 01/26/2018 Photo Album

Friday began at the Heartland World Heritage Hotel in Haast. As mentioned in the previous post, we survived loud Bollywood music and a room infested with sand flies and mosquitoes. Amazingly lodging that provides air conditioning is not a given in New Zealand, and the Heartless did not offer that amenity. Needless to say it was a steamy night.

We stopped in Haast at the breakfast takeaway, where we chowed down on a scone with black tea, and I purchased a yogurt for the road. We met three young gentlemen using the Wifi on the adjacent deck and struck up a conversation. They were filming a Finnish woman (sisunotsilence at, as she ran 30 Km per day along the west coast. One of the young men was from South Jersey and attended East Stroudsburg State University, another lived in Boston, and the third member of the film crew was from San Francisco and named Ben. We left them eating breakfast and fussing with their mobile phones, and we actually passed the female runner on our way up Haast Pass, as she descended.

Thunder Creek Falls

On the western side of the pass we stopped and viewed Thunder Creek Falls and Fantail Falls, and then we completed a thirty minute roundtrip hike to Blue Pools just beyond the summit. Blue Pools was an interesting place occupied by a crowd of swimmers on a hot day in January. Many of the swimmers were fearless, as they climbed over the rail on the swinging bridge and plunged into the ice cold aqua blue pool below.

Swimmers Line Blue Pool on a Hot January Day

Once we departed the Blue Pools carpark, we traveled directly to Wanaka, our destination for the next three nights. We checked into the Wanaka Springs Lodge, and Fraser, the male member of a husband and wife proprietorship, gave us a thorough tour of the premises. Our Wanaka digs were superb, although they adhered to the developing trend of not offering air conditioning. The heat wave continued and actually worsened during our time in Wanaka. We looked forward to swapping the cold of a Colorado winter for the warmth of summer in New Zealand, but record heat was not in our plans.

Meat for Our Turkish Kabob Lunch in Wanaka (Jane’s Being Assembled on the Right)

Once we were established at the Wanaka Springs, Jane and I embarked on a walk to the beachfront area, where we ate Turkish kabobs for lunch. I first encountered this delectable food in Coogee Bay, Australia, and the Wanaka version did not disappoint. The kabobs were delicious and huge.

We returned to the hotel to change into our cycling clothes, and then we visited the Bicycle Lounge, where we rented two mountain bikes for the remainder of the day. We paid the half day rate and the shopkeeper, who later told us she just returned from twenty years of living in Lake Tahoe, provided locks in case we returned after the 5PM closing time. We quickly took off and cycled east to Waterfalls Creek, and then we reversed our path to the heart of town and continued west to Eely Point. We stopped at Eely Point, so Jane could wade into Lake Wanaka, and then we returned to the Bicycle Lounge and locked our bikes.

Getting Her Feet Wet As Usual

Wanaka Tree

After this bit of exercise and while still in our cycling clothes, we ambled to the Speights Ale House and quaffed beers. We sat next to brothers from Hamilton, MT and engaged in a brief conversation. One brother was a hot shot who spent ridiculous hours of overtime in the summer fighting wildfires. The other young man worked in some capacity for a craft brewer in Montana. Their vacation in New Zealand was a chance for the hot shot to enjoy summer without the hectic demands attached to a wildfire fighting job.

Our next stop was the New World Market where we purchased an Asian salad kit and smoked salmon. This combination became our tasty Friday night dinner and ironically one of the best on the trip.