The day New Zealand found Blue Duck Station

Ten years after we “discovered” Blue Duck Station, the rest of New Zealand experienced the awesomeness of this eco-tourism wonderland. Recently, Seven Sharp (TVNZ’s current affairs programme) visited Blue Duck Station.

It was 2011 when we created our first blog post about visiting Blue Duck Station. Now in 2021, Seven Sharp did the same, featuring the Blue Duck dining experience on their show. Have a look.

Special things don’t come easy

Otherwise, you won’t appreciate them. Words of wisdom from Blue Duck Station owner Dan. Dan is a farmer, environmentalist and expert in knowing how special New Zealand is. Check out the video below and you’ll see how special this place is.

Blue Duck Station’s remote restaurant is run by head chef Jack, an Englishman that started out as a volunteer. Years later he returned to Blue Duck with an idea, the idea to create The Chef’s Table, completely off the grid and on top of the world.

The restaurant offers a luxury 10-course fine dining experience, and with every dish, the view changes.  A fine dining experience for Kiwis, all Kiwis, not just the rich and famous.

Throwback to 2011: the day we found Blue Duck Lodge

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.

Great hospitality from Dan the manager of Blue Duck Lodge

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, we 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. We gathered and we headed deep into the central north island of New Zealand to see what this place was all about.

Arrival at Blue Duck

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!

Blue Duck Station is truly off the beaten track

The Blue Duck Lodge 4WD Eco 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.

Horse trekking for the girls

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 programme 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.

Kayaking in a remote gorge

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.

Kayaking at Blue Duck

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.

Adding Blue Duck to the Stray Tours

Soon after the visit, Blue Duck Lodge was added to the Stray New Zealand itinerary and it quickly became the top-rated stop on the circuit. Stray Travellers love the opportunity to experience this wonderful natural 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.

Blue Duck Lodge is a “Strademark Place”.  Strademark Places are the places that Stray Travel goes that are off the beaten track. They embody Stray’s values and ethos as an adventurous, off the beaten track, travel operator.

Put simply, if they carry the ‘Strademark’ stamp they are what makes Stray stand out from the crowd and are not to be missed!

Everyone can experience Blue Duck Station

Even though Blue Duck Station is literally in the middle of nowhere, everyone can now experience it. Whether you visit it as part of a Stray Bus Tour or as a self-drive package (with the option to add a luxury campervan), it is now super easy for every Kiwi or overseas traveller to get there.

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Alison 'Ally' McFarlane spends her working days as the Boss of the Auckland Stray Shop and her non-working days viewing off the beaten track locations through her camera lens. Favourite travel quote: “Travelling – it leaves you speechless and turns you into a storyteller.”

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