The Raw and the Cooked

A hip college town on the edge of fly fishing frontiers

Dunedin is one of New Zealand's undiscovered gems of international fly fishing travel.

The largest cosmopolitan city on the lower South Island, Dunedin is an excellent and overlooked base for one- to ten-day fly fishing sojourns, especially if you’re traveling with folks who don’t fish.

Home of the nation’s oldest university, Dunedin is a laid-back compact, green, walkable city with many of the best aspects of Seattle, Missoula, Boulder, or Eugene, Oregon. Here you get both the raw and the cooked.  There’s something for everyone: wild life, art galleries, walking trails, funky cafes, wine bars, ethnic food, live indie music, several of the best museums in the country and a wide range of accommodations.  And within a two hour drive, over 20 blue-ribbon wild trout waters that see far fewer anglers than those near more overdeveloped destinations.

Dunedin's landscape is a stunning setting, where the Pacific Ocean meets the Otago Harbor and Peninsula. The latter is home to rare albatross, blue and yellow-eyed penguins and has been suggested as a UNESCO World Heritage site. To the northwest are the wild Silver Peaks, to the north the cloud forest of the Orokuni Ecosanctuary.

The Lonely Planet Guide proclaims Dunedin "the South Island's Coolest City," noting it is "surprisingly artsy" with a strong local music scene. Dunedin is also on the cusp of its own Slow Foods movement, with a "thriving" Farmers' Market where you can buy artisanal cheese and chocolate, crepes, fresh flowers and herbs, regional seafood, free range eggs, heritage potatoes chutney, jam and marmalade or award-winning Otago Pinot Noirs, recently judged the world's finest.  Local microbreweries like Emerson and Green Man serve organic beers and IPAs.  The local Fortune is the world's furthest south professional theatre company.

Based in Dunedin, Wild Angler is a high-quality, low-impact fly fishing guide service specializing in one- to ten-day trips to rivers like the legendary Mataura, whose lush Deleatidium hatches and wild free-rising browns make the river a dry-fly mecca; intimate Otago and Southland tributaries with big fish in small water; and classic backcountry rivers of the Southern Alps where trophy rainbows and browns sway in pools as clear as mountain air.

The first gamefish, indeed trout, to be liberated in New Zealand were released here in Dunedin, in 1869, into the Water of Leith, which flows through the Botanic Gardens.  Also based in Dunedin is the Otago Anglers Association, the oldest still running angling club in New Zealand, and possibly Australasia. 

Wild Angler also guides other regional gems that lend themselves to loop trips out of Dunedin. Match-the-hatch fans will relish chasing the yellow-winged Kakahi Queen hatches among the golden kowhai blooms in the Catlins. The lonely waters of the upper Taeiri and Maniototo beckon travelers searching for a glimpse of undeveloped vistas local writers and artists call "The Timeless Land."  And a little further to the north or west, the big-fish rivers of the Central South Island. And the wild West Coast—a true troutbum’s frontier.

With non-stop flights to Auckland, Dunedin is a logical point of arrival and departure.  For the non-angling travel partner, there is so much to do when everyone else is out fly fishing you won't even miss them.  Tour the local Cadbury Chocolate Factory.  Take a run or a walk through the numerous greenbelts, walking paths or Botanic Gardens, some of the country's finest. Take a short, winding drive to the spectacular Otago Peninsula to see pristine beaches and headlands and the Royal Albatross and blue and yellow-eyed penguins.   To the north await day trips to places like Moereki Boulders and the award-winning restaurant, Fleur's.  Ecotourism and angling travel couldn't have a better base for discovery,  when you're “There and Back Again.”

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