Helicopter fly fishing in New Zealand: Cedar Lodge

As many of you know we have a deep love for fly fishing in New Zealand. The beauty, gin clear waters and big fish have brought us back year after year.

The early days found us sleeping roadside, and driving dilapidated sedans on 25+ day fishing benders. We moved to a van we could sleep in, then a small house on the South Island and a 4-wheel drive. Instead of driving 10,000 kilometers on a month long trip we began to focus on the rugged, but beautiful south western zone of the South Island.

For my 40th Birthday we went to Cedar Lodge. A dream trip! Heli fishing daily to unforgettable rivers with large trout eating large dry flies! Amazing. Then for Shauna’s 40th we returned to Cedar. A friendship formed with owners Dick and Robyn Fraser. A plan was hatched and we write you today to inform you that we have purchased Cedar Lodge.


This unique opportunity is intended to augment our existing business. We will continue to operate The Caddis Fly year round. With fantastic staff in place at both locations and perfect seasonality, we feel it’s an ideal situation.

Cedar Lodge is located near the Makarora River; a stone throw to Mt. Aspiring National Park and two hours from Queenstown airport. Because we own our helicopter we are able to fly anglers daily without the cost of a separate charter service. Weather permitting we fly anglers to rivers as far as 40 minutes away and as close as 10 minutes. The lodge’s location allows us to fish a good number of rivers with incredibly diverse beats on both sides of the South Islands coastal divide.

We invite you to join us for this truly unique experience on New Zealand’s South Island. Shauna, Patsy, Cash and I will open the lodge in early November close December 20th; re-open from Jan 15 through till March 30th.

We fell in love with this spot and know you will too!


Cedar Lodge was just featured in Catch Magazine this month, and below is an excerpt from that article. All photos in this post by John Covich.

Early morning light pours over mountaintops into the valley floor. A clear morning means the chopper will be taking off soon. You get your gear ready, you go over your tackle checklist in your head and then add the heli safety talk to the forefront of your mind one more time, — don’t walk around the back of the machine, take your hat off, when in doubt sit tight and let pilot tell you what to do. Soon you’ll be flying over spectacular South Island backcountry terrain on your way to sight fish for large trout in sparkling clear waters.



Whop, Whop, Whop hat in your pocket camera in hand you duck towards the front seat. Head sets on, door check, the machine backs and lifts at the same time and then we’re off! Soaring over glacial mountain sides, aquamarine pools and meandering river valleys.

We land, unload and the chopper is gone. We are greeted with the smell of native beech, manuka and the cleanest air on the planet. Cicadas are buzzing, the river is clear, we are in trout paradise. A high bank nearby offers a perfect view point for a lengthy pool. We spot a fish, the adventure begins.



New Zealand’s youthful, rugged geography was designed for Helicopters. Helicopters that deliver angler and guide to clear waters with big trout taking big dry flies. Cedar Lodge has been flying anglers into New Zealand’s gorgeous backcountry rivers for over 30 years. The lodge’s location is ideal for access to the South Island’s West Coast and Mount Aspiring National Park.

New Zealand’s South Island Rivers are so perfectly designed to hold trout it’s shocking that until the late 1800s there where no rainbows or browns holding in crystal clear pools, runs and riffles. Once liberated, trout have naturally reproduced and come to occupy most of New Zealand’s freshwater rivers and lakes.




Anglers are hunters, hikers, walkers and spotters in New Zealand. Walking upstream along dreamy trout streams where every possible bit of trout water must be examined thoroughly before moving on to the next. Taking your time amidst the beauty of New Zealand’s forests, braided rivers, and rugged gorges is critical to not missing a fish but it also gives you time to take in your surroundings and enjoy where you are and what your doing.

Rarely do you run into significant hatches but the seemingly sterile waters of New Zealand’s South Island do hold a variety of insects. Trout can key on aquatic life but seem to be attentive to all of their surroundings. Cicada’s, beetles, hoppers, crickets and even mice are part of the diet that feed fish that average 3-8lbs.

If the mornings chopper ride wasn’t exciting enough you have now spotted a 5lb rainbow elevated towards the surface in a crystal clear pool. You see every one of its movements. Right and left he swings as much as 8 feet to grab an invisible subsurface nymph. He doesn’t break the surface but is extremely active. The anticipation of your presentation is part of the New Zealand experience.



Your first cast is critical. Long leaders, drab fly lines and a thoughtful position help you to increase your odds. If your cast lands short, the fish is likely to sense your fly’s presence, turn downstream towards you and either eat the fly while you gaze into his eyes or get nervous and change his feeding habits for the worst.

Knowing all this, you make a perfect cast upstream of the fish in the current line close to him but not directly in line. You know he will move a distance and use this to your advantage. He rises up to a size #10 Ramsey’s Goofball dry, he is facing away from you and you give him time to drop back down towards his feeding lie, you tighten up and the red hot rainbow is hooked!



This entry was posted in Fly Fishing Travel. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Helicopter fly fishing in New Zealand: Cedar Lodge

  1. two dogs says:

    Chris, congrats on the new venture! If you need a house sitter let me know. Never known anyone with their own air force before. Very nice.

  2. Sam says:


  3. Herman says:

    Wow, what a beautiful magazine – never knew about it. Just subscribed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *