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Ultimate New Zealand

Four months into a three-month visitor’s visa, I was still on the South Island and the list of things I wanted to do was longer than when I started. The original plan was simple enough: arrive in Auckland, fly down to Nelson, purchase a car, spend two weeks touring the South Island, drop off a friend at the Christchurch Airport, work my way back up to the North Island for two weeks and be on my way.

I remember exactly when that plan changed. It was just after the new year and a river was to blame. As I drove north to take my friend to the airport, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It was the perfect size; clear, crossable and loaded with more trophy trout than I had seen in all my previous angling years combined. Upon reaching the airport I stopped long enough to rush my friend from the vehicle, then hung a quick U-turn and headed straight back to that river. It was the beginning of what was to be my ultimate, four-month odyssey on the South Island. I lived out of the back of my beat-up station wagon, and I hiked and fished and kayaked until the hills were dusted with snow. The trip left a deep and lasting impression, a hunger if you will, that has kept me returning to the country to discover more of its secrets and continually refine my vision of the ultimate New Zealand experience.

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