Archive for the ‘Marlborough’ Category

Brown trout territory

Mossburn, close to some of the best known brown trout rivers in New Zealand like the Oreti and the Mataura, is our next destination. The cottage we found trough the AA guide proves to be even cosier then expected and we fall in love with it at first sight; a perfect base for our trips to the surrounding rivers.

As avid readers of Flylife magazine, we noticed Stu Tripney years ago, a Scotsman who made NZ and Athol his new home. He seemed to be a bit crazy, a very good and passionate fly fisher and fly tier and a pretty decent bloke. Stu’s fly patterns are already well known in NZ and Australia and the choice is impressive.

When meeting Stu in person at his well stocked tackle shop in Athol, we are greeted by a friendly guy with a smile and a great sense of humor. Stu and his dad George are a real handful and we have sore tummy muscles from all the good laughs we have in their company. Later in the week Stu is guiding us on the Mataura. The water has just cleared enough to be fishable with a dry fly and despite the poor visibility our guide points out many fish; to our embarrassment we miss most of them. But, as Stu assures us, we have not broken the record for missed fish – we are very close though. We have an unforgettable day in great company and learn a lot and yes, some of us get wet balls as well.  Thanks for all Stu and George, we hope to see you again happy and healthy!

When travelling in New Zealand, one will come across possums sooner or later; the most likely encounter being road kill. The Australian brush tailed possum was introduced into NZ in the early 19th century to establish a fur trade. A lack of natural predators and bush fires and the abundance of food resulted in an explosion of the population and possums became a serious threat for many native plants and animals. The cute marsupial from OZ proofs to be a real nuisance and the Department of Conservation is doing everything possible to reduce its numbers and the impact possums have on the environment.

A trip to New Zealand is not complete without having been in Fiordland. We do not have to travel far from Mossburn and our next choice of accommodation proves to be a true winner. Finding a place to stay in Te Anau in high season is difficult and the only options are very expensive. After searching the internet for a while, we come across Mt Prospect Station, a mere 20 minutes from town. As it turnes out, it is the best thing that could have happened. We spend the next two weeks in the stations shearers’ quarters just a stone’s throw from the Whitestone River and with impressive Mt Prospect right behind the house. The quarters provide all we need for a very enjoyable stay indeed. Mt Prospect website

The fishing in the Whitestone River is outstanding and we have a ball catching Brown and Rainbow trout on dry flies. Lacking the pressure of Stu’s presence or more likely his positive impact, we get the timing right and hook-ups become common again. As always, we fish barbless and notice once more that very few fish are lost as a result of a missing barb. We spend many days on the Whitestone and neighboring rivers, enjoy our riverside lunches in the most scenic places and love the great feeling of being tired after a long day out on the water.

One memorable morning Béatrice spots a fish minutes after we have reached the river; the big Brown sitting in knee deep water in front of a rock. Her first cast is spot on, the fish does not hesitate and slowly pushes its large head with the jaws wide open out of the water and over the fly. And then all hell breakes loose! Feeling the sting of the hook, the trout zigzagges up and down the pool and jumpes high into the clear morning air several times. Bugger! The fish looks huge out of the water and I doubt that Béatrice will be able to land it. But after several minutes of good rod work the fish gives in and she lands a beauty of a Brown trout jack, the scales of the weight net showing just over 7lbs.

And we visit Milford Sound again of course. The drive to the sound alone is well worth doing, such diverse are the landscape and the natural features along the way. Watch out for Keas, when waiting for the green light in front of Homer tunnel. The cheeky mountain parrots seem to love the attention of people and they definitely love to play.

Rachel, Grant and Ellie, the young couple and their daughter owning the farm and our very friendly hosts, give us an interesting insight into a working back country station and make our stay become home away from home indeed. Many thanks to Peter and Sandy as well! We miss you, guys.

While staying on Mt Prospect Station, the second earthquake occurred in Christchurch; we were shocked and very sad when we heard the terrible news. Knowing the city and the places we saw in the news very well, we felt close with all the people affected by the catastrophe. Let’s just hope the worst is over now.

Wine country

Living more than up to our expectations once again, it was hard to leave Reefton. But Blenheim and the Wairau with its tributaries were calling and we had been looking forward to fishing the Goulter for a very long time. The weather had been wet for weeks, but the forecast for the coming week looked promising and our spirits were high. On the way east, down the Wairau valley, we were able to have a glimpse at the Goulter, entering a very high and dirty running Wairau river on the opposite side of the valley. Despite the main river looking like liquid soil, the Goulter was running clear!

Getting accommodation in Blenheim in the middle of the high season proved to be difficult, but we finally found a wee cottage with its own private backyard in the middle of town. On our day of arrival the weather was warm and sunny and we were ready to go fishing the following day. To our surprise the next morning, steady rain was proofing the forecast wrong. We decided to show a positive attitude and left early. On the way up the valley the rain got heavier and every little side creek we came across showed still signs of the recent floods and the road was badly damaged in many places. When we arrived at the Goulter, some of the creeks were already discoloring and rising with the rain showing no sign of stopping soon. We feared to get cut off by floodwater and decided to turn back immediately.

But our disappointment didn’t last too long and visits to some of the many wineries of the Marlborough region made up for the lost fishing. Marlborough is one of the main producers of high quality wines in New Zealand and many square kilometers of the extensive Wairau plains are occupied by vineyards. The hills in the background looked extremely dry, the plains themselves being a sea of lush green leaves thanks to modern irrigation technology; an achievement not possible without high costs for the environment. Most of the wineries offer tastings and many have a restaurant on their premises as well.

With the weather continuing to be wet, we changed program and paid the Aviation Heritage Museum a visit the next day. A very impressive exhibition with lifelike scenes created by Weta Studios, the animators behind the “Lord of the Rings” movies, became even more alive with the in depth information provided by our guide, a seasoned, 84 year old pilot, who is still flying his own plane. The guys flying the fragile looking constructions in the early days of airplanes must have been rather enthusiastic daredevils.

Heading South

It’s early on a beautiful spring morning in October and we are finally on our way to the South Island. After many weeks of great company and exciting winter fishing in Turangi, we are looking forward to being in the south. The trip to Wellington to catch the ferry is always a most enjoyable one and this time is no exception.

The impressive, snow capped peaks just south of Turangi are looking down on us while we cross the moonlike landscape east of the volcanoes on the infamous desert road. Just weeks ago the exposed road took its toll again when a truck crashed on black ice early one morning. Soon after leaving the central plateau, the Rangitikai River appears on our left and makes us dream of monster trout in a pristine environment of awesome beauty. A little later, after many weeks without the sea, we enjoy magnificent views of the Kapiti coastline on our way to the ferry in Wellington. 3 ½ hours after leaving Turangi we arrive at the Interislander terminal in the outskirts of Wellington.  

A couple of Alpacas, on their way from Waiheke Island to a show in Christchurch, are a welcome distraction to the usually boring wait in the queue till everyone can board the ship.  Our worry of getting seasick proofs to be unnecessary and all passengers on the ferry seem to enjoy the smooth ride across the notoriously rough waters of Cook Strait. What a difference to our last trip, when faces turned green and everyone was trying to sit at least close to a sick bag because of the heavy sea.

Entering the Marlborough Sounds is quite spectacular and everyone wants to be outside and catch a glimpse of bush clad mountains, a maze of bays and fiords and lonely houses in the most beautiful spots. To us, arriving in Picton feels always a bit like coming home. The small town is suddenly busy with all the disembarking vehicles, with weary travelers looking for a place to sleep and with cheery holidaymakers on their way further south. An hour later and everything is back to normal, the streets are quiet again and the friendly locals enjoy their peaceful paradise until the next ferry arrives.

We spend two days in Picton and then travel west to the Nelson/Golden Bay area; years ago we fell in love with its relaxed atmosphere and the mild and sunny climate. And we can’t wait any longer to see our friends over there again. The scenic route from Picton to Nelson along Queen Charlotte Drive is well worth the effort and we get rewarded with great views of the sounds and an abundance of flowers of every kind.