For those of you living in New Zealand or planning a trip to New Zealand Blue Duck Lodge is one special place you need to experience.
Out one night having a couple of beers a friend of a friend said you should look up this place called Blue Duck Lodge. So naturally I got online and found they had a great website that clearly showed the natural beauty of the place and the host of activities on offer. I gathered a team of four couples and two dogs and we headed down in a Spaceships campervan and a 4WD Toyota Hilux to see what this place was all about.
We arrived and were greeted by Dan Steele who is in charge down that way. At this stage Dan was basically a one man band running the farm, building lodges and looking after guests. We learnt a huge amount about the conservation he is committed to, the history of the area, all the activities on offer and on the last night how to dance on the table whilst looking like a stag!
The Blue Duck Lodge farm tour is a great activity and one everyone can get involved with. We got the full tour of the farm which involves 4WD Polaris style motorbikes, gumboots and some really cool old huts that were built by hand by the first farmers and lots more interesting things along the way, like how the old paddle boat would bring supplies in and out, where the horse and cart tracks were and Maori Pa sites. As a bonus we managed to catch a pig out the back of the farm and cooked him up for dinner.
The remote bush gorges offer great habitat for the Blue Duck and native bats which you can see at certain times. There is a large scale working programe in place for pest eradication and Blue Duck protection which Dan tells you about. These gorges also provide canoe and jet boat options plus fly and spin fishing for trout.
After the farm tour the boys went off for a hunt and the girls went for a horse trek down to the old supply hut. There are plenty of goats around so we did our bit for the environment and permanently removed a few. There is no wastage though and these goats were taken back to the kitchen and formed the main ingredient of our goat curry for dinner. Later that night we managed to claim a deer under the spotlight which was a bonus. I also guided a friend onto catch his first trout directly below the lodge we were staying in.
The next day we went for a short kayak in a remote gorge below a decent size waterfall. It felt like we were in dinosaur country. This is some pretty remote country! Just above the waterfall was a pair of Blue Ducks. It was amazing to see a live pair in the wild after learning so much about them.
We felt like we were just settling in when it was time to leave and head back to Auckland. The girls were a bit reluctant to head down in the beginning but come the last day we had to drag them home.
After catching up with the team at work and telling them about Blue Duck Lodge they decided they had to go and see it for themselves. Taxi, the Operations Manager for Stray turned up in his going out in town shoes and was quickly rubbished by Dan half way through their farm tour when the dogs bailed a pig and he would get off the motorbike because he was worried about his shoes.
Soon after the visit Blue Duck Lodge was added to the Stray and Adventures Tours New Zealand schedules and quickly became the top rating stop on the circuits. Travellers that choose Stray or Adventure Tours New Zealand will get to experience this wonderful playground and meet Dan who is a kiwi legend. You will be very well looked after, learn a lot and have life long memories of this special place.