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Rescuing the King of Pizza

Many of you will know Stefano, the self-crowned ‘king of pizza’ who created authentic Italian pizza at State Cinemas for ten years. During his first Summer out of the kitchen he went back to his first passion, fly fishing which he initially moved to New Zealand for. It turns out as well as pizza, he was also ‘a king fly fisherman for trout’ and has 29 years of experience. He had created the business as a ‘matter to live’ to gain residency but it was time to get back to his real passion.

Stefano had some time off to reflect and moved to the remote Howard Valley where he lives with his cat is ‘no married, no children’ and is living the dream. He loves the remoteness of his property, which has views out to Mt Angelus and Mt Robert and is now into his third season with the world renowned Owen River Lodge, a five star luxury specialist flying fishing lodge, located near Murchison.

On Wednesday 11 December 2019 on a beautiful sunny day, Stefano set out to guide a beginner fly fisher and tried their luck on the Travers River. The day went on and in the afternoon after a ten minute battle with a brown trout where they almost got it in the net, the beginner pulled too hard and broke the line. The day was at an end and it was time to head off as they had a water taxi booked for 5.30pm at the head of Lake Rotoiti. At 4.00pm the headed off as they had a one hour 20 minute walk ahead of them. They took it slowly as they had plenty of time to enjoy walk back to the Lake. There had been a lot of rain the previous week and it was slippery under foot. As they were almost at the swing bridge, Stefano slipped in the clay, ‘got speed’ and lost his footing with his left foot and leg rotating and without the other leg support, he fell down.

Stefano was in ‘crazy pain’ so he set of his personal locator beacon which was incorporated into a satellite phone. He rang Felix the owner of the Owen River Lodge to make sure they had got the signal and Felix comforted him by saying ‘don’t worry they are on their way’. Stefano looked down at his straight knee and then saw his foot to the side ‘my season is done’.

Stefano was in a lot of pain and 35 minutes later, the Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter arrived and landed. Matt Wilkinson the crew’s Intensive Care Paramedic administered pain relief while Stefano asked him ‘can I go fishing in a couple of weeks’. Matt reassured him that they would get him out there as soon as they could.

The rescue helicopter arrived at the hospital where Stefano was later x-rayed which showed a cracked fibula and tibia. The next day he was informed that he was off to the theatre, with Italian being his first language (and a strong Italian accent) he thought he

was going to see a movie! As he was coming out of the anaesthesia, he was a little confused but still managed to ring a friend to ask about catching a fish.

After six weeks of not being able to put his foot down, Stefano is recovering day by day focusing the brain to do small exercises to strengthen the ankle and moving his

toes. He currently spends his day’s daydreaming about the mega mast and the 15lb brown trouts that are going to be around next season. He is incredibly thankful for the service and grateful that the Owen River Lodge is a Silver Corporate Friend of the Trust – thanks Felix Borenstein!


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