The south west coast bares the brunt of all the weather systems that hit New Zealand, with massive rainfall exceeding 5 meters per year. This is a recipe for deep, lush rainforest and rivers that cascade down steep valleys, frequently flooding to terrifying levels. If you manage to get hit a rare break in the weather, it’s time to pack your stuff and get there.
This was the case for us as we decided last minute to make the long slog up the west coast, we quickly packed and left at dawn. Unfortunately being in such a haste means things get missed, with Jakub leaving his remote control drone on the roof of his car as we took off in the morning darkness, never to be seen again.
We didn’t have much time to recon this trip so after a quick look over google maps we decided on two rivers. There had just been a massive storm a few days prior and even though the water had subsided dramatically the first river was slightly high and carried a little colour, however it looked very promising. To our disbelief this was not the case, even with the deafening sound of cicadas in the air and the most beautiful water imaginable, there were no fish to be found, so after about 4km we turned back and carried on our journey.
Arriving at the next water took us by surprise at it was much larger than we thought. After a quick chat with a local Kaumatua (Maori Elder) we got access to head far up the valley and camp for the night near the bush lined valley where we would be starting our next day. The sandflies were rampant overnight, filling Jakubs van like a plague and making for a rough sleep.
We awoke to a stunning morning with just some high cloud breaking the clear blue skies. The crisp sound of cicadas, at times deafening, permeated the entire valley. We knew we were going to be in for a good one. It was just like entering Jurassic park, ancient trees climbing into the sky and lush moist undergrowth separated by a mass of water thundering down between massive boulders, some the size of small houses. Hungry Browns took station in front of these boulders, rising to any stimulator that passed over their head. One after the other they came up to slurp down our cicada imitations with over 20 fish landed and many more hooked during the day. Most the fish landed were between the 3-4lb mark, all in spectacular condition.
Another gruelling trip concluded with the usual sore bodies, sandfly bites and wide smiles. Not only was it great fishing but also a fulfilling experience exploring some true wilderness waters. Spontaneity can go both ways at times, as we found out on each day, but you don’t know what you don’t know, so just get out there!
Text: Matt butler
Photography: Jakub Kanok, Matt Butler