South Island, New Zealand, November 27, 2009
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Photo copyright Josh Graffam, Teton Trout.
A report from
Josh Graffam
Well John and I just got out of the bush last night afer spending a total of 13 days fly fishing in the
Kahurangi National Park on South Island in New Zealand.

We started our trip with a crazy helicopter ride up a gorge. Some rain and a good amount of wind made for an wild ride but it was pretty cool to get to a spot in 15 minutes that would normally take more than two days to walk to and we got in with enough food to last for 15 days--enough time to explore four rivers.

The first couple of days were rainy and the rivers were up but after a day of dry weather the water came back down. We fished for a couple of days around the hut, messing around at the bottom before heading up into the gorge. We packed food for four days of camping as we climbed upward and once we made our way out the gorge the fishing got ridiculous.

On our best day we landed 16 fish between 4 and 6.5 pounds. Most of the fish we were spotting were within a foot of the surface and 60 percent of the fish ate a beadless nymph dropped below a dry. The other 40 percent ate the dry on the first cast.

Our spotting skills got better and we started to spot a good number of fish in fast water. These fish were really easy--they were not as spooky and usually ate on the first drift. After catching a ton of fish we climbed back down the gorge and to the main river.

We set off for our next section of river which was two days away. After a long morning of boulder scrambling and river crossings we eventually found a trail. We realized we were ahead of schedule so we decide to push hard and try and gain an extra day of fishing.

We spent our sixth night in a hut at the bottom of a beautiful tributary which we fished the next day, spotting tons of fish. However these fish were pretty spooky (probably because they were close to a hut) but as we made our way up river the fish seemed to get bigger and easier to catch. We were very happy catching six fish on that day and looked forward to making a camp and exploring the headwaters.

After a long night of rest we woke up to the sound of a helicopter. We ran outside to witness a large black helicopter heading straight up our river but we didnt think much of it because we figured they would see us there and go somewhere else. Apparently this was not the case.

We ate breakfast, oatmeal, raisins and brown sugar, packed our bags with enough food for four days then took off for the upper reaches of the river. After about an hour and a half of walking we turned a bend in the river and were about to cross when we spotted a guide and his two clients. We were screwed. They had flown in above us and were there first. We approached the guide and talked to him for a bit but he was not very friendly. He wanted to know how we found out about this river andtold us that he was not going to allow us to go above him. He also told us to go back to the hut. We had no choice. We could have tried to jump ahead of him but this would have caused some serious problems. He was there first and we were SOL. We were pretty pissed and ran back to the hut, packed up all of our gear and hiked six miles to the next damn river.

After a long day of nothing we were ready to fish. We met some Australians at our hut who were messing around and fishing a little bit and got a good bit of information from them. We headed up the river for a few days of fishing and spent three nights at this little tiny hut fishing our way up and down the different sections.

Fishing was decent and we spotted some nice fish--caught good numbers and lost a few big ones. We spent the next day hiking about eight more miles up river but at this point we were on day 12 and getting pretty tired. We fished a little bit after our morning hike and then realized we were over it.

We were craving a shower and some real food. We knew that if we hiked six more miles that day we could do a big fishing day on day 13 then get the hell out of there. We grabbed our packs and practically ran six miles to our last hut.

There was a really nice Canadian couple there who had spent the last five hours hiking the six mile stretch we had just covered in two hours. We told them that we
were going to push all the way out the next day and they laughed at us. A sign said it would take nine to 10 hours to hike out with a hut at the six hour mark.

The next morning we woke up at 6am and made our last batch of oatmeal. We packed our bags, gave some spare food to the Canadians, and took off running. We climbed over 1000 feet in just over an hour. It was a beautiful sunny morning with blue sky and you could see the ocean nine miles away where our car was parked. For the next five hours we stumbled ran climbed and crawled our way to our red rollerskate.

Lucky when we finally hit the parking lot our car was there and all of our stuff was still inside. It even started when we turned the key. We had covered 14 miles in under six hours and were dying for a shower and some food.

We arrived ast night at the
Rongo Hostel in Karamea and ate a huge meal of nachos, ribs, fish and chips. Then we fell asleep around 9pm. In the morning we ate bacon and toast for breakfast, meat pies for lunch and will be going back to the pub for more fish and chips tonight. Tomorrow we will head down the road and continue on to our next
backcountry trip.

In all this last trip we walked over 80 miles, fished four different rivers and caught almost 50 fish between four and seven pounds and probably ate more oatmeal than any one human should ever consume.

And the adventure continues...
Josh will post another report in about a week or so but if you want to drop him a note or read his blog go to