Fly-fishing here is serious sport. So much so that New Zealand has a nationwide ban on felt-soled boots, which spread microorganisms that can disrupt freshwater ecosystems. The quintessential Kiwi fishing experience is sight-casting dry flies in small, crystal-clear rivers for football-size brown trout. But it's not easy: only a handful of New Zealand rivers have more than 1,000 fish per square mile (as compared with western U.S. rivers, with counts as high as 20,000). A guide is essential, and most of the best are based out of high-end lodges.
Mike McClelland, owner of the Best of New Zealand Fly Fishing (bestofnzflyfishing.com), can customize any trip. Among his favorite spots is the North Island's Poronui lodge, a high-country estate surrounded by 25 miles of the choicest fishing in New Zealand. You can walk spring creeks, float wilderness rivers, or helicopter to remote streams (from $670 per person per night, including guides and meals; poronui.co.nz).