Jan 23, 2018

Gone too soon. All who knew Simon Dickie, Taupo, New Zealand, are mourning his sudden death in December 2017.

The NZ Herald on December 13, 2017 recounted Simon’s success as an Olympian.
New Zealand rowing great Simon Dickie has passed away suddenly at the age of 66. Dickie was a cox who won three Olympic medals; part of a rare group of New Zealanders to accomplish that feat.His first medal came in 1968 in Mexico City at just 17 years of age, winning gold as part of the coxed four, before famously winning gold at the 1972 Olympics in Munch with the New Zealand eight. He then came out of retirement to win his third Olympic medal; claiming bronze with the eight at the 1976 Montreal Games. Athol Earl, a teammate of Dickie's in the medal-winning eight in 1972 and 1976, remembered Dickie as a "larger than life personality."

Simon was also successful in other outdoor adventures. In 1972 Simon formed his own company, Simon Dickie Adventures. Initially the company was based around fishing. Later Simon developed and subsequently sold what is now regarded as New Zealand's top fishing lodge, Poronui Ranch.

Memories by Mike McClelland

My own memories of time spent with Simon are vivid and unique. I first made contact with Simon in 1984 after reading an article in Field & Stream about fishing in New Zealand with a guide named Simon Dickie. As a result of the article I contacted Simon and arranged for a friend to join me in flying to New Zealand to sample it’s world famous fishing.  The fishing and country did not disappoint.

In 1990 I changed the focus of a travel agency that I had owned since 1981 to concentrate on fly fishing in New Zealand –hence the name The Best of New Zealand Fly Fishing.  Simon was instrumental in promoting NZ fishing in the early days. We worked together to bring 18 New Zealand fishing lodge owners and guides to an early Fly Tackle Dealer Show in Denver to promote fly fishing in New Zealand.

We booked a significant number of clients in the early days of Poronui when it was generously described as “rustic”.  One of our clients purchased the ranch and upgraded the facilities to the current 5 Star Standard. We still book a significant number of clients at Poronui.

After the sale of Poronui, Simon stayed on to help manage the lodge while the new owner relocated and built the present lodge and extensive facilities.

Simon next turned his attention to growing Kiwi fruit and became one of New Zealand’s largest growers; raising pheasants and conducting driven shoots; and taking wing shooting groups to Scotland and Argentina. For the past ten years Simon also continued to guide a limited number of clients exclusively for The Best of New Zealand Fly Fishing.

Over the years Simon and I enjoyed getting together on a number of occasions –including enjoying crawfish (NZ lobster) caught by Simon at his beach cottage in Ocean Beach; and attending special meals together at the Hawkes Bay Food & Wine Festival. Simon also visited my home where he eagerly inspected my wine cellar and sampled some of the best vintages. He more than reciprocated when my wife, Nancy, and I were next at Simon’s house in Taupo.

There were two outings with Simon that are particularly memorable.

1) Fishing with His Royal Highness Prince Namgyal Wangchuk in the Kingdom of Bhutan: I first visited the Kingdom of Bhutan in 1983 and have been fortunate to become friends with His Royal Highness and to have gone fishing with him on most of my thirty trips to the country.  In 2010, 2011, and 2013 Simon joined me on trips to Bhutan to fish with His Royal Highness.  These trips included fishing for Brown Trout, but the main focus was fishing for Mahseer in the Southern part of Bhutan.  Simon brought his high level of enthusiasm, energy, interest in the culture & food, and unrelenting dedication to catching the elusive Mahseer.  And of course he was successful!!

Condolences sent from His Royal Highness Prince Namgyal Wangchuk, Kingdom of Bhutan
“My deepest sympathies to Simon’s family for this sad and irreplaceable loss. Simon was larger than life, a person who radiated so much energy and enthusiasm. The times I spent fishing with him here in Bhutan were very memorable. Simon was a good friend and a great fisherman.” 

Simon was always just fun to be with –whether it was camping in Bhutan and watching Simon teach six young Bhutanese farm girls how to do the Haka*, or celebrating with a bottle or two of wine after the fishing trip in  Lord Jim’s Restaurant at The Oriental Hotel in Bangkok. 

* The haka is a traditional war cry, war dance, or challenge in Māori culture. 

2.)  Four years with “Team Kiwi” at the Jackson Hole One Fly

Working with Air New Zealand and Tourism New Zealand we agreed to sponsor a New Zealand team in the Jackson Hole “One Fly” and Simon agreed to be the Captain of “Team Kiwi”  Simon brought his enthusiasm and energy to recruiting a team of accomplished New Zealanders and true ambassadors for the country.

“How did Team Kiwi do in competition?”

2014 One Fly Results: Out of the 40 teams they placed 20th –a very respectable showing for their first time in the event especially considering that fishing conditions are significantly different than the New Zealand style of sighting and casting to individual fish.

2015 One Fly Results: Team Kiwi returned with great enthusiasm and arrived a week early to practice fishing from drift boats – a style of fishing totally different than fishing in New Zealand.  The team finished 31st out of the 40 teams

2016 One Fly Results:  Simon broke his ankle a couple of weeks before the event and recruited a replacement for the team. Simon still attended the event with his leg in a cast and on crutches to offer support and encouragement to the team.  Again the team finished 31st out of 40 teams

2017 One Fly Results:  The team again arrived early to practice and this time it paid off with Team Kiwi finishing in Third Place. New Zealand made its mark at the One Fly this year! (and for the first time beat the Aussie Team which came in 40th -last place).

Click here -> Eulogy by Peter Cullinane

Click here -> Thoughts provided by Tom Montgomery

Click here -> Thoughts provided by Dave Handy

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If any of our clients/friends wish to add their own memories of Simon, please send them to me at mike@bestofnz.net and we will add them here

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Author: Kelli Mutchler