Self driving in New Zealand is a great way to see the country. A few things to consider:
1) New Zealand drives on the left side of the road. The wheel is on the right side of the car. Thus, if you are not used to driving on the opposite side of the road, take some time to familiarize yourself with driving and understand what other cars on the road are doing!
2) You must have a “Valid Drivers License” or an “International Drivers Permit” these licenses must be in English. If the license is any language other than English then it must be translated by a bona fide translator into English and they must also carry the original licenses with them.
You can drive in New Zealand if:
· You have a current and valid overseas licence or driver permit (IDP International Driving Permit) and
· you haven’t been given a disqualification or suspension in New Zealand, and
· you came into New Zealand less than 12 months ago, and
· your overseas licence is in English, or you have an accurate translation, and
· you haven’t been granted a New Zealand driver licence since you last entered New Zealand.
If you don't meet all of these requirements, you must apply for a New Zealand driver licence to drive in New Zealand. The long and short of it is, No drivers license (as per above), No driving in New Zealand…
US and Canadian citizens do not need a visa to visit if staying for 3 months or less. For more information from other countries see here. When traveling to New Zealand make sure the expiration date of all passports in your party are at least 3 months after the date of your return flight.
Accommodations in New Zealand range from the super luxurious (think Bill Gates and the Royal Family) to the more budget-minded, self-catered apartments and cottages. While pricing differentiation does exist within each category, below is an idea for the range of costs:
Costs will depend on things like the time of year one plans to visit, the level of accommodations, the number of activities, etc. Even within each cost category there are levels of exclusivity (private wine tasting and meet the wine maker, private Owners Cottage, exclusive tours, etc.) Fishing trips may also include helicopter access to rivers with your guide. However, generally you may expect trip costs to start, for an 11-day trip, at around $4300 per person.
World-class luxury amenities, fantastic scenic locations, expansive properties and service expected from the best boutiques in the world. With perhaps a dozen deluxe suites being the usually the “norm” for the size of the property, options exist from rooms in the main building to more exclusive on-property Owner’s Cottages and private residences ranging to $30k+ / night. These properties are the pinnacle of privacy and grandeur within the country.
With anywhere from 4- 10 rooms, fly lodges range in their appointments but all offer authentic Kiwi hospitality. Fly lodges are there for one purpose- to cater to anglers. Think deep leather arm chairs, dark wood paneled walls, libraries of fishing books, fly fishing décor, and always situated near a moving river. When you come off of the water you can hang your equipment in a well appointed mudroom, where your equipment will be cleaned and dried for tomorrow.
Full breakfast and dinners are usually included with your stay. Rooms may be shared with another person (the super king beds will separate to accommodate two people) and meals are taken with the other anglers staying at the lodge. Usually your guide will meet you for dinner on the night prior to your first day of fishing and anglers will usually stay anywhere from 4-7 nights in order to fish an area.
The B&B is a purpose-built cozy homestay often owned and run by the hosts. Served breakfast is the norm in the morning, with evening canapés and a glass of wine enjoyed over conversation with other guests prior to going your separate ways to dinner. The B&B hosting culture is not prevalent in the United States and first-time travelers to New Zealand may be gun shy as what to expect. However if interested to meet other travelers, if only for brief conversation, we definitely recommend B&Bs. For an angler the B&B will depend on the area- our staff knows which B&Bs are best for couples vs. anglers, etc.
Hosted rooms or cottages on the property of a working farm (usually sheep) managed by the family and owner of the farm itself. Charming, salt of the earth, unassuming and honest straightforward people- the Kiwis master the art of being a great host, a skill all but lost in the go-go modern United States. B&Bs are an invitation into something that almost feels out of yesteryear. The number of rooms is usually under 10, and often 3 or 4.
Self-contained and self-catered private apartments (usually in the city) and cottages (in the country) are clean and simple. Perfect for larger families and groups that need more than 2 rooms, these are a decent choice if you like to cook or prefer to provide your own meal options. Room sizes can range up to 4-bedrooms.
In New Zealand motels are will be a basic and clean room in a purpose-built building. The dingy roadside motel that is often conjured as an image within the United States should not be associated with the quality of a room which you will get in New Zealand. Without massive superhighways throughout the country motel are still very much part of the Kiwi culture. Rooms will usually not have room service, so you will need to take meals in town.
As in the US there are vacation rental and room-stay sites that offer accommodations in New Zealand. The value of using our service is that we personally vet locations and have a relationship with the owner/host for the property. Mitigating risk of traveling to New Zealand only to stay in a less than desirable accommodation is one of the reasons to contact us. A few possible issues that may exist with online vacation rentals are:
To understand New Zealand more intimately we believe one must get to know the people of the country. The art of being a good host is somewhat lost in the United States, with massive hotel chains and “loyalty points” programs dictating where we stay, yet providing a similar experience whether in Chicago or Atlanta.
New Zealand does not have the superhighways of North America. Thus, similar to the historic Route 66, roads in NZ retain a culture of roadside motels and B&Bs where travelers spend a night or two. American families once depended on this style in their travel out West, post-WW2. No, B&Bs and motels of New Zealand are unfamiliar to most American travelers under the age of 50.
Anglers stay at a fly lodge for any number of reasons. Fly fishing is a niche sport and those that enjoy the outdoors probably will also appreciate staying at an authentic Kiwi fly fishing lodge. Large hotels are the same around the world, but a lodge will provide comfort and the ability to converse with other people who share the same fishing passion. Who knows… you may learn a thing or two over beers at the end of the day.
The ease of staying at a lodge is also a major consideration. Coming off of the water you can hang up gear, there will be a cold beer waiting, etc. Although lodges range from the super-luxury to the more basic all provide comfortable accommodations, prepared meals, ready access to helicopters and guides.
Fly lodges will have lead guides who communicate daily and share which pieces of water have been fished and when. Guides will have logs to chart catches, flies, time of day, etc. At night groups of guides within lodges will share information and arrange themselves for the next morning. Dr. X wants to heli into River Y? So does Mr. Z! Why not split the cost between them by sharing the flight time?
When you book direct you pay a retail rate with the lodge, while we have contracts that allow us to book wholesale. Thus, when you book through our team you are not going to pay any more out of pocket because you are paying retail. It’s where you cut the check that differs, but the ultimate number you write on the check does not. However! We provide more than simply booking accommodations for you! Working out all of the details for your trip and providing a clear itinerary- especially for more complex travel situations (multiple flights, multiple locations, etc.) our service mitigates the risk of a bad trip and increases the chance of a great trip.
We know the internet exists and people will always price match. So we provide transparent pricing through an itemized itinerary. You can see exactly what you are paying for every aspect of your trip. Thus when you book through Best of New Zealand you are leveraging our expertise without paying more out of your pocket.
The number of fish per mile in New Zealand pales in comparison to that which can be found in the USA. So casting to a pool which “should” have fish will not be enough. Sight-fishing is required- meaning that one must spot and cast to a specific fish. New Zealand guides are professionals (not summer hires or part-time college students) and the best in the world at spotting fish in turbulent water. Even the most experienced visiting anglers will not know the beats as well as a local guide that has grown up in the area. Yes, if one is experienced they will be able to spot and cast to fish, but not at the ratio as if you had a guide who does it on a daily basis.
The bottom line is that you have traveled a long way to cast to large fish in New Zealand. Our advice is not to be penny wise and pound foolish. Your time will be used most efficiently with someone to guide you. The reason you are there is to catch fish. Increase your chances of doing that.
Be honest and have open dialog from the outset. The best way to work with your guide is to be frank about your experience, casting skills, fitness and goals. One of the reasons why we suggest a few days fishing with a single guide is to get over the forming/ storming/ norming of relationship building so you can more quickly get to performing together. Creating trust and leveraging the guides skills is very important.
Allow the guide to do his job. These guys stalk fish all summer long and rarely take a rest unless they sense the client is tiring or it’s time for lunch. Allow the guide to spot the fish ahead of you by remaining down river a few yards… and stay low/ out of the vision of the fish! The last thing the guide wants is to spot a beautiful fish only to have the client spook it by being clumsy and doing something that could have been easily avoided by just taking your time and thinking about your actions.
Your guide will have patterns upon patterns prepared and you are definitely not expected to bring your own flies. However, there are many books and online resources about fly patterns, and new fly patterns, and secret fly patterns, and what fly patterns are working on what rivers, and when, etc. etc. We suggest that if you would like to tie and bring your own to New Zealand you should expect to bring a few rows of terrestrials as a starter.
Note: Raw skin and necks will be subject to inspection and fumigation upon arrival, so we suggest only bringing finished tied flies. In the past New Zealand used to prevent any flies from entering the country however this is not the case today.
The waters in the back country of New Zealand are turbulent so spawning conditions aren’t as favorable as other locations in the world. This leads to less fish but those that survive tend to be large as they are not competing with as many others for a finite food source. The temperature of New Zealand’s waters are also ideal for feeding for roughly 8 months out of the year. Compared to northern Europe at 3 months, this is a lot more feeding.
An important aspect of our service is matching you with the correct guide. Experience, personality, how adventurous you would like to be, and fitness level are all parts to that process.
In some cases you will hike, wade and navigate banks with your guide 3-5 miles. It can be physically demanding and rocks can be slippery, so being nimble may be required. In more extreme cases you will be hiking deep into the bush and camping overnight to access water seldom fished.
However, there are ways to address those who are less ambulatory via the use of flat-bottomed jet boats to help you reach waters you would not normally get to fish. Guides who are well-versed working with less mobile people will have a plan- so you are safe and have a great day on the river.
New Zealand is a beautiful country and any time of year is a great time to visit. Do it before you can’t fish these gorgeous rivers! Secretly, although many North Americans understandably want to fish at the height of the summer (and the dead of the winter in the USA), there are probably better times to fish.
It depends on a few factors- like how much do you want to carry with you on the plane, if you will be traveling around the country pre/post-fishing, and how comfortable you are wearing other gear. All of the guides in New Zealand will have equipment that you may use.
Practice, practice, practice! Casting in New Zealand can be pretty demanding and if you are like many anglers, you will out on the river 3 days in a row. Since you are making the trip and taking the time to chase big fish, you will want to be as ready as possible when the time comes.
In a local field/ school playground practice casting with a 15 foot leader and a piece of yarn on the end. Put a ball cap about 35 feet in one direction and then another 25 feet away. Your goal should be to cast into the hats. The casts in New Zealand will not be too long in length, but accuracy and limiting the number of back casts is beneficial to saving your arm and avoiding spooking the fish. Once you have mastered your cast… do so in the wind.