GPS Coordinates: 44°15’16.01″S 169°12’25.08″E
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Cedar Lodge, in the center of New Zealand’s South Island, has been accurately described as the most remarkable value in heli-fishing in the world. For a cost that is remarkable given the expense of operating helicopters, you get the full lodging, guiding, and gourmet dining experience that all the best New Zealand lodges offer, plus you fly out to the fishing every day! Specifically, the lodge is located at the edge of the massive Southern Alps. When one of their pilots lifts off from the heli-pad and turn in any of three directions, they are immediately inside Mt. Aspiring National Park. These are the most productive fly-fishing grounds in the country and, arguably, the most difficult to get to on foot. The alpine geography of the park is spectacular, and the streams get little to no outside fishing pressure.
Cedar guides know these waters intimately, and those anglers willing and able to cover a significant amount of ground each day will be rewarded with consistent shots at large brown and rainbow trout, often on dry flies. The following suggestions for tackle and clothing will help make your trip more comfortable, and enjoyable.
Getting to New Zealand & Cedar Lodge
Depart the States for New Zealand:
Direct flights from the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) or San Francisco International Airport (SFO) via Air New Zealand depart in the evening, arriving two days later into Auckland on the North Island of New Zealand. Though the flight time from LAX or SFO to Auckland is only 12 to 13 hours, you will cross several time zones and the International Dateline, arriving two days later on the calendar.
Air New Zealand flights will arrive at the Auckland Airport, a super-modern international facility, early in the morning. Here you will clear immigrations (passport control) and customs. This is all very easy, and you will immediately know you are in a different land, by the courteous and polite nature of the airport officials. As you leave Customs/Immigration and enter the main terminal, you’ll see a bag drop where you can leave your luggage (if it is at least one hour before your domestic flight).
From the International Airport it is a five-minute, free shuttle bus ride, or a pleasant 15-minute walk to the adjacent Domestic Terminal. Here you will take one of several daily domestic flights via Air New Zealand to Queenstown on the South Island. The flight takes only about an hour and fifteen minutes. Located on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, which means “Lake of the Sleeping Giant” in the native Maori tongue, and across from The Remarkables mountain range, Queenstown is the South Island hub for adventure tourism, magnificent scenery, and emerald, blue waters.
Once you arrive in Queenstown, there are two options. If you are scheduled to go directly into the lodge, you can arrange to be met as you get off the plane by a Cedar Lodge approved transfer agent. The driver, who knows every bump in the road, will leisurely make his way up the valley in an air-conditioned vehicle, showing you some of the highlights along the way, with a stop for lunch, if appropriate, time-of-day-wise. The drive from Queenstown to the lodge takes approximately 1 ½ hours. To arrange this, let us know and the lodge will help set up the transfer. If there is a group all going in at the same time, the amount will of course be split between everyone. If you will be spending the night in Queenstown before heading out to the lodge, there are several excellent accommodation options to choose from – we will be glad to help you with this choice. Then, the next day at a pre-arranged time, the driver will meet you here and transfer you to the lodge. A second option is renting your own rental car (this is usually a less expensive option), and simply driving to the lodge on your own (ask us for specific driving directions). Please time your drive to arrive to the lodge no earlier than 4:00 pm.
These are full fishing days, and the exact schedule will depend on the guest’s wishes, water conditions and prevailing weather conditions. Anglers, two at a time with a guide, will board the modern and safe B-3 Squirrel helicopter at the lodge or nearby landing zones and fly to one of a dozen or better remote rivers, usually no more than 20 minutes away. You will be in the field all day, until the helicopter returns in the afternoon at an agreed upon take-out site. Seasoned Kiwi guides will carry lunch, ground-to-air capable radios and emergency supplies.
All the water of New Zealand is open to the public but the lodge, using their helicopter, can be on water in minutes that seldom sees anyone but Cedar guests. There are, in fact, more than two dozen blue ribbon streams and rivers that are within easy striking distance and these fisheries have enough diversity that they appeal to every angler. The most distant are the wild, rugged, coastal rivers where there are sea run brown trout and resident trophy browns and rainbows. The angling menu is filled with crystal clear spring creeks and classic free stone rivers.
Typical Daily Schedule:
- 7:00 A.M. – Coffee is ready
- 8:00 A.M. – Breakfast is served
- 9:30 A.M. – The first helicopter departs for the day
- 5:00 P.M. – Extraction out of river by helicopter back to Cedar Lodge
- 7:00 P.M. – A gourmet dinner is served
Depart New Zealand for the States:
After breakfast and saying your goodbyes to the lodge staff, anglers will be transported via auto back to Queenstown via the driving transfer they pre-arranged, or in their rental car, in plenty of time to catch a flight up to Auckland to begin their journey home, or the continuation of their New Zealand angling or travel holiday.
Direct flights from Auckland to LAX or SFO depart in the evening between 7:00 and 11:00 p.m., arriving Stateside the same day, mid-morning (remember the International Dateline).
Driving to Cedar Lodge
The following are two driving options to Cedar Lodge from Queenstown. If you are driving a Camper Van or are nervous driving alpine roads, we strongly recommend you take Option 1. It is about half an hour longer than option 2.
- Drive North out of Queenstown on State Highway 6 to Cromwell (approx 50 KMs)
- Continue on SH 6 past Cromwell towards Wanaka
- Turn right at SH 6 West Coast/Hawea turnoff (approx 60 KMs from Cromwell)
- Follow SH 6 to Makarora (approx 50 KMs)
- Turn left on School Road (approx 1 KM from the Country Cafe store)
- Follow School Road to Cedar Lodge entry
* If you get to the Makarora Tourist Centre, you’ve gone too far.
Cars only – The Crown Range is a winding Alpine Road
- Drive North out of Queenstown on State Highway 6 towards Cromwell
- Turn left towards Wanaka on SH 89 (Crown Range) – approx 15 KMs from Queenstown
- At Wanaka, turn right and drive through town towards Hawea/Cromwell
- Turn left at SH 6 West Coast/Hawea turnoff (approx 5 KMs from Wanaka)
- Follow SH 6 to Makaroa (approx 50 KMs)
- Turn left on School Road (approx 1 KM from the Country Cafe store) look for the large mailbox with the sign saying “Cedar” on top
- Follow School Road to Cedar Lodge entry
*If you get to the Makarora Tourist Centre, you’ve gone too far.
* Transfers available by request from Queenstown airport
From the USA dial:
011-64-03-443-8285 – Please check the time difference before calling
Lodge E-mail: email@example.com (Bobbi Anderson, lodge host)
In the US dial: (541) 410-8035 (Cameron Davenport) | firstname.lastname@example.org
US Embassy – Auckland, New Zealand
Street Address: 29 Fitzherbert Terrace, Thorndon, Wellington, New Zealand
Hours: Monday through Friday 9:00 to 5:00pm.
From inside New Zealand: (04) 462 6000(04) 462 6000
Internationally: +64 4 462 6000+64 4 462 6000
From inside New Zealand: (04) 499 0490(04) 499 0490
Internationally: +64 4 499 0490+64 4 499 0490
After Hours Emergency Assistance for U.S. Citizens
For emergencies outside the hours listed below, please phone either: +  (4) 462 6000 and leave a message for the duty officer; or +  (9) 303 2724 ext. 2900.
Although selling fly fishing tackle and flies is part of what The Fly Shop® does, it is not our main concern. Our main concern is that people have a great trip. We know from personal experience, and from the experiences of thousands of our traveling customers, that properly outfitted and prepared anglers have the best chance of having a trip of a lifetime. This tackle and equipment planner is a guideline to help anglers assemble a reasonable collection of flies and necessary equipment so that you stand the best chance of finding success on the water. It’s not necessary you have all of these flies and assorted equipment, just a good cross-section.
- Please note that Cedar Lodge has loaner waders and fly rods at no extra charge – if you would like to take advantage of this, let us know, and we’ll arrange it for you.
If you have any questions concerning tackle and equipment recommendations, please feel free to call us toll-free at (800) 669-3474. Thank you.
A 6-weight fly rod is the perfect tool to effectively fish the waters accessed by Cedar Lodge, with the larger attractor dry flies and/or smaller nymphs and indicators used most often. If you are an experienced angler and can deal with the sometimes-breezy conditions, a 5-weight outfit could be a better choice for you. The key here is not having to make consistent 80-foot casts, but rather being able to deliver your fly accurately and consistently at 30-50 feet. The ability to throw longer casts is always helpful, but rarely necessary. We strongly recommend a 4 or 5-piece travel rod. Rods you might consider are R.L. Winston, Scott, Sage, and The Fly Shop’s Signature Series Rods.
Good quality, lightweight fly reels, with simple disk drags are the best choice. Reels should be filled with fresh 20-pound backing. Reel models to consider might include The Fly Shop’s L2A, Galvan, Abel, Hatch, and Ross. 75 – 125 yards of backing are more than adequate.
For the dry fly rod, you will want a weight-forward floating fly line. Color of the line is very important to the guides in New Zealand – it must be drab; an olive or gray color is preferred. We like the Scientific Anglers Amplitude Infinity taper.
Leaders & Tippet:
Long leaders are the standard in New Zealand fly fishing, with most guides preferring tapered leader lengths of 9 feet tapering down to 3X, to which they will add the appropriate amount of the correct sized tippet. It is worth noting that New Zealand guides tend to prefer using Maxima Ultragreen or Maxima Clear tippet, most commonly in 4#, 5#, and 6#…they will provide this if you don’t have it yourself.
In New Zealand there are definitely a handful of favorite local patterns but realize that most streams don’t have prolific insect hatches, so you rarely are matching a hatch. In most cases the fly pattern is less important than a great presentation. We suggest you have a few of the following patterns in your box and then let the guide fill in with his own patterns, as he suggests.
- Mercer’s Missing Links – #14-16
- Parachute Adams – #14-16
- Clark’s Cicada – #10
- Royal Wulff – #12-16
- Black Foam Beetles – #12-16
Many guides prefer nymphs have a black bead, not the flashier gold, copper, or silver colors, and they like tungsten, as they don’t use split shot. With this in mind, we suggest the following:
- Tungsten PT Prince Nymph – #12 – 16
- Mercer’s Tungsten Bead Micro Stone – #14 – 16; black
- Czech Catnip – #8; olive
- Tungsten Swing Nymph – #16
- Mercer’s Jigged Golden Stone – #10
- Jiggy Micro Mayfly Nymphs – #14
Line Clippers, Pliers, Hemostats, & Hook File:
Essential to any fisherman and should not be left behind (though the guides are happy to do all the leader chores and tying on of flies for you).
Fly fishing in New Zealand is a very visual experience. Spotting the fish is part of the excitement, and part of the challenge and good quality polarized sunglasses are a must. Polarized sunglasses not only let you spot fish more effectively but protect your eyes from the intense sunlight experienced in New Zealand, as well as hooks. Smith Optics, Costa del Mar and Oakley make some of the best. It is advised to bring two pair, as sunglasses tend to break, get lost, or fall into the river more often than other items of gear. Brown or copper-colored lenses are preferred.
Waterproof digital cameras are handy. SLR cameras with a good zoom lens (28 – 80) are the best. If you are going to take your expensive camera equipment, make sure you have a waterproof case for it. The best waterproof cases we have found are made by Pelican Products, www.pelican.com. Don’t forget your flash unit and extra batteries.
Our favorite is one that has LED bulbs and is rechargeable.
The summer weather in New Zealand is generally pleasant. Average temperatures range between the low 60’s and mid 80’s. Though usually not hot, the ultra-violet rays of the sun in this part of the world are very intense and will burn even the most sun-seasoned anglers. Brimmed hats, long-sleeved shirts, and frequent use of a strong sun block (SPF 30+ UVA/UVB) are highly recommended.
If you use a wading staff on your home waters, then bring it to New Zealand. It will come in handy. Bring one with a rubber tip, as the metal spiked ones make too much noise and spook fish.
The weather in New Zealand is constantly changing. One afternoon it may be 80°+, sunny and hot, then only a few hours later clouds can move in, and the conditions will turn windy with temperatures in the 60°s. The key clothing question you’ll want to decide is if you want to wear waders, or wet wade each day. If the former, then the following layering information will be useful for you, keeping in mind it is rarely cold there, so many people will find no need to have a thermal layer, preferring to simply have the base layer beneath the waders. Should you decide to wet wade, they have a rather unique but highly functional system in New Zealand, where you wear the base layer described below, over the top of which you slip either a pair of lightweight shorts, or nylon shell pants such as those used in hot weather saltwater climates. This allows you to wade all day in the cool water without getting cold, while also not getting hot on warm days (remember, a lot of hiking is the norm in New Zealand). This will necessitate wearing a pair of neoprene and/or heavy wool wading socks, to compensate size-wise for the lack of neoprene booties built into your stocking-foot waders. Many people will simply use quick dry pants, instead, which also work very well for wet wading.
Clothing strategies should be based on the “layering system,” the idea being to trap heated air generated by your body between multiple layers of insulation. The layering system allows you to adapt to air temperature, body temperature according to activity level, and whatever Mother Nature dishes out. Here is the formula preferred by the staff at The Fly Shop®:
Start off with a synthetic fabric next to your skin (the Patagonia Capilene is a good start). This often is a pair of thermal underwear (tops and bottoms) and they usually come in three weights: light, mid and expedition. According to your individual metabolism, pick what is best for you. Synthetic (non-cotton) materials retain little moisture and “wick” moisture away from your skin. This is very important when you are walking in waders or when outside temperatures heat up.
Your second layer of insulation should match the weather and conditions you are going to be fishing in. Lightweight insulation for cool weather, mid-weight for colder conditions and heavyweight for really frigid days. Fleece is an outstanding choice here in tops and bottoms, or overalls. The new merino wool is also a good choice as, like fleece, it stays warm when damp.
- 1 set mid weight Simms wading underwear, or Patagonia heavyweight Capilene, or fleece equivalents. Tops and bottoms.
- 1 set fleece pants–Simms bibs or pants; Skwala or Patagonia Capilene Fleece
- 1 fleece jacket—Simms, Skwala, or Patagonia
Outer Shell (Rain Jacket & Waders):
Your final layer should be a breathable rain jacket and waders.
High quality Gore-Tex® type products are the best. Your rain jacket should be 100% waterproof and breathable. Rain jackets must be seam sealed, multi-layered, of QUALITY construction and from a recognized outdoor clothing company. Jackets specifically designed for fly fishermen are the most comfortable and practical. We recommend Patagonia, Skwala, and Simms.
Stocking foot, breathable waders are the way to go. You will experience little or no moisture build-up inside the waders, even after a long wade; they wear like iron, are comfortable to be in all day. For safety we strongly recommend always wearing a wading belt. Good choices are Simms, Skwala, and Patagonia.
New Zealand rivers tend to be easy to wade, with a bottom formed of non-slippery pea gravel or rocks, and mellow currents throughout. For this reason, the new knobby, “sticky” rubber Vibram-soled wading boots are recommended. Felt-soled wading boots are NOT allowed in New Zealand, as they have been found to transport invasive parasites detrimental to the trout and streams in general. If you are not a strong wader, you might consider getting aluminum studs to put into the bottom of your rubber-soled boots to keep yourself from slipping on rockier bottoms. Gravel guards are a must. The lodge can provide waders and shoes, if desired. We highly recommend Korkers, Simms, and Patagonia wading boots.
Anglers should bring enough socks to alternate daily. For a week’s fishing trip, three pairs should be fine. Do not wear the same socks every day, but alternate, leaving one pair to dry and air while wearing the other set. Smartwool, polypro, or a combination of both are the best choices in sock material. Try on your socks with your waders and wading boots before you leave for your trip to ensure that you have plenty of room to move your toes.
Fingerless sun gloves are great to protect your hands from the intense New Zealand sun.
Fishing Vest/Tackle Pack:
For vests, we like a high-quality product, in a ‘shorty’ model. Choose one that has room for a rain jacket or camera in the back. Brands we like are Fishpond, Patagonia, and Simms. If you prefer a tackle pack, take a good look at Fishpond and Patagonia.
Look for a hat that is comfortable, with a dark brim to keep the sun off your face.
Loaner Waders & Wading Shoes/Fishing Tackle:
Should you want the lodge to provide waders and/or wading shoes for you, just let us know, and we’ll check their availability. It is often possible for them to provide both if you prefer. Same goes for rods and reels.
Fish Estimation Formulas:
This is a widely accepted formula that will give you a fair estimate of your released trout’s weight.
(G x G x L)/800 = W
G = girth (inches)
L = length (inches)
W = weight (pounds)
|Conversions From Metric To Standard
Gratuities are a personal thing based on service rendered. Normally guides and staff are tipped upon departure in accordance with their individual effort and service. In most cases we like to leave a gratuity with the lodge manager or host, who then splits it up equitably between the guides and staff (with the lion’s share going to the guides, of course). A good rule of thumb for an amount to leave is 10 percent of the total lodge package cost. Gratuities should be paid in US$ cash. If you have any questions concerning gratuities, please feel free to call us or ask the lodge/camp manager or host for guidelines.
If you thought your guide and/or the lodge staff exceeded your expectations, you may wish to tip them. Guests typically tip guides directly, and a standard amount is between $75NZ – $150NZ per guide per day. For lodge staff a typical amount is between $50NZ-$75NZ per night for our chefs, housekeepers, and other lodge support staff. Please note that these amounts are quoted in NZ dollars – as this is written $100NZ converts to about $65US. The tips for the non-guide staff are given to the lodge manager and distributed by them to make sure all team members get their fair share.
As with most New Zealand lodges, Cedar Lodge has Wi-Fi available for clients who would like to bring their own Wi-Fi-enabled electronic devices. It is satellite-based and not completely predictable – some days it works better than others – but it is more than adequate to send and receive emails. There is not adequate bandwidth to support sending images or for streaming videos.
Cedar Lodge does offer a laundry service for those who would like to take advantage of it; it is charged by the article of clothing, ranging from $6 for a pair of pants down to $2 for a small item.
What is the voltage of electricity supply in New Zealand? Do I need to take a converter? Electricity is supplied throughout New Zealand at 230/240 volts (50 hertz), although most hotels and motels provide 110-volt AC sockets (rated at 20 watts) for electric razors only. For all other equipment, an adapter/converter is necessary, unless the item has a multi-voltage option. Please note that power outlets only accept flat three or two-pin plugs, depending on whether an earth connection is fitted.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need a passport and visa to travel to New Zealand?
All visitors to New Zealand must carry a passport that is valid for at least three months beyond the date you intend to leave the country. You do not need a visa or permit to visit New Zealand if you are a resident of United States of America.
How long is the flight from California to New Zealand?
From the West Coast of the United States, a direct flight to New Zealand takes about 12 – 13 hours and covers approximately 10, 450 Km (6,500 miles) from Los Angeles to Auckland, New Zealand.
Do I have to spend the night in Auckland on the day of arrival into New Zealand and on the night before departure back home?
No, you do not have to overnight in Auckland, unless you would like. International flights arrive in Auckland early in the morning and allow for you to continue onto Queenstown on the South Island on your day of arrival in New Zealand.
How much baggage can I bring?
- Economy and Premium Economy 2 pieces, each up to 23kg (50 lbs.)
- Business 2 pieces, each up to 32kg (70 lbs.)
- Star Alliance Gold Customers (including Airpoints Gold and Gold Elite) 1 additional piece per person!
Domestic New Zealand Flights:
- Economy and Premium Economy 20kg (44 lbs.) total
- Business 30kg (66 lbs.) total
- Star Alliance Gold Customers (including Airpoints Gold and Gold Elite) additional 20kg (44 lbs.)
The absolute maximum weight per piece of baggage for all customers is 32kg (70 lbs.). Each piece of baggage should not exceed total dimensions (length + width + height) of 158cm (62″).
The New Zealand government has announced effective October 1st, 2019 U.S. citizens, British, Canadian, and Australian Permanent residents along with 56 other nationalities that can currently enter New Zealand under the NZ visa waiver program will require an NZeTA visa for both arrivals by Air and Cruise ship.
This is a new policy, and if you do not have the NZeTA in your hand when you prepare to board the aircraft from the United States to New Zealand, you will not be allowed to board the plane.
*Having a NZeTA Visa is MANDATORY!*
From July 2019, travelers can request their NZeTA via the mobile app, or online at immigration.govt.nz/nzeta. The app is the preferred option because it’s fast, easy to use and offers greater data accuracy.
- The cost of the NZeTA is NZD$9 via the mobile app and NZD$12 via the Immigration NZ website.
- NZeTA requests take between 5-10 minutes to complete. Once issued, the NZeTA is valid for up to 2 years and can be used for multiple visits.
- Travelers will pay for their International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy (IVL) at the same time they request their NZeTA. The IVL will cost an additional NZD$35.
For the latest information about the ETA, visit: https://www.immigration.govt.nz/new-zealand-visas
If you would like assistance with your NZeTA Visa you can contact Travel Visa Plus, our preferred visa service company.
Travel Visa Plus
Stephen and Aaron Hopkins
580 California St., Suite 1246
San Francisco, CA 94104
email@example.com | (415) 568-2164