Cedar Lodge is a well-established New Zealand fly fishing lodge. When my wife and I purchased it in May of this year we were very confident in it’s fishing program and facilities. We knew of Cedar’s unique location, helicopter and recently upgraded guest rooms.
Dick and Robyn Fraser started the business in the late 70s in a very much rural part of the South Island. Until 1964 the road from Wanaka to the West coast (SH6) wasn’t even complete. The early stages of the lodge were based off of Dick’s fixed wing plane hobby and a “batch” (cabin) near some great water. The first rendition of the lodge was built in a weekend or two by Dick and his pals. That early structure of the lodge still stands and has been added to over the years to become the owner’s quarters (more on that later).
We knew we wanted to update and upgrade Cedar this spring and had about two weeks to get after it before guests arrived. Obviously the focus had to be on the newer lodge and property surrounding. But the list was long and of course we are still working and creating new lists as we go. Plans included, a new deck, new paint, all new furniture/furnishings for the lounge and dining area, new outside dining area, painting the “old lodge” or my families new home for the season, garden boxes, new kitchen in the old lodge, and much more. All this sounds doable and some of it got done in a timely fashion with the help of Brian Gustafson (worlds greatest traveling painter) and Paul Wright (Cedar’s head guide and gardener) and Bryson Fairlamb (Caddis fly team leader) but I have come to realize that nothing is easy and everything is expensive when you are as rural as Cedar Lodge. I have new found respect for the New Zealander who has finds a way to create and thrive on building things from “what’s on hand”. When sourcing is needed, being extremely organized for your one trip into “town” is vital. Having excellent relationships with your neighbors in the valley, your vendors, couriers and more are cursory to living and working in the “wop wops”.
Brian and I arrived first and began painting. Three and a half days later we began to unpack the new lodge furniture and started planning the new deck. Paul had already started to landscape around the dining are we had built in June and it just needed some finishing touches provide by neighbor Willy Aspenal in the form of giant rocks delivered with his tractor.
Brian is a builder at home but didn’t have his table saw in his luggage so we borrowed our cleaner Corrine’s. She also had a couple quality drills that we could not have done without. We had a drop saw in the hanger so it was just a matter of figuring out how much wood to buy. I have to give Brian kudos on his metric measurements. It was pretty funny to watch he and I hash out square meters for a deck. In the end we overcame our Imperial Measuring tendencies and Brian got it spot on in terms of quantities.
Next was sanding and painting lodge deck railings, doors, kids tree house and touch up where necessary.
Meanwhile back at our new house (the old lodge) I am coping with our water system. A basic “bore” system with pumps and a very rudimentary filter. The system is simple and the water table is extremely high, currently we have water at about 20 feet down the bore. But during this past winter leaves, and debris have found there way down through the bore and the whole system needed to be cleaned out and lined with a stainless tube. Neighbor Ferg is an engineer and the valley’s water system expert. He went and borrowed the local volunteer fire brigade’s truck. We pumped out the bore re-fastened pipes and ran the pump continuously for hours. A few days later the water came right.
It’s getting close to arrival date for your first guest now and my family is arriving on the 12th of November. Brian, Bryson and Paul are helping out on minor projects in the morning and fishing in the afternoon.
On the afternoon of the 15th our first guest arrived. We were up and running! The week went really well with very nice weather and incredibly kind and appreciative guests.
Week two is underway and we continue to settle into rural lodge ownership. There is always something to fix, update and improve on the property. I would love to say the transition from our home in Eugene has been seamless and easy but the fact is we have had our challenges. Starting a new, or taking over an existing business has it’s really satisfying days as well as it’s difficult ones.
Fishing has been good with rivers in great shape. We have been able to give quite a few rivers a look, and each day out we have seen improvements in terms of fish numbers. October was one of the wettest months on record for the area and the rivers have taken a bit of a hammering. I am hoping good weather is in store for us this early season and fishing continues to improve.
More updates to follow.