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Winter Fly Fest, Turangi


Fly Fest 2019, photo by Chris Sharland

For the past four years, event coordinator Andrew Burden and the rest of the team at Sporting Life Outfitters have put together the cruisy affair known as the Winter Fly Festival. Located in Turangi on the North Island of New Zealand, it’s a weekend where fly fisherman of all levels can listen in on presentations by knowledgeable anglers from all over the world, attend fly tying demos from some of the best in the business, and spend one on one sessions with a few of the most renowned guides in the country. The original idea behind the Fly Fest came from the mayor of Turangi himself, Andrew and Matt Wilson who for years discussed putting together such a weekend before finally debuting the first festival in 2016 with 40 people in attendance and it has now grown to nearly 300.


the cast and hook-up captured by Andrew Harding

With a number of phenomenal rivers at your doorstep and an exceptional coffee cart stationed at the carpark next to the world-famous bridge pool, the town of Turangi is the perfect place for hosting a cold weather fly fishing expo! The Fly Fest was my first introduction to the world of fly fishing in New Zealand back in 2017 and this year I was lucky enough to come back and give my own presentation on fish handling, plus deliver a few tips on how to effectively practice catch and release.



A few of the top fly fishing companies such as Manic Tackle Project and Flytackle NZ stop in and support the event by giving anglers a chance to have a play around with the latest and greatest gear while learning from the experts. To finish it all off, attendees are offered both a delicious lunch and dinner catered for by ToiToi Food Co, complimentary of the event hosts and owner of the shop Graham Whyman. Overall, even with the weather keeping us all in rain coats, the event was a success with a great turnout and some beautiful chrome rainbow trout caught around town.




After each trip, I find myself owing so much to the town of Turangi, the locals and its rivers for pushing me to find confidence in myself as an angler, as well as a person. It holds a special place in my heart, and it is truly a slice of heaven tucked away amongst the pine trees and volcanic plains. As an added bonus, it's such a treat getting to see so many familiar faces and relive one of my favorite memories had in New Zealand. This event wouldn't be possible without the support from the following people - the Sporting Life team and owner, New Zealand's finest fly fishing companies such as Manic Tackle Project, Flytackle NZ and Sean Andrew from Category 3 Fly Company, Garth & Leigh Oakden from Tongariro River Rafting, caterers Luke & Sally Nelson, Mike Brown, and Alan Rafferty from Raffs Tyer Shop. A massive thanks to all for yet another fabulous year spent cracking jokes, sharing a couple cold ones with old friends, and making lifelong memories.



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