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Comfortable Hunting
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The pioneer days of guided hunting in New Zealand faced two major problems. The most obvious was a lack of high quality deer trophies, and the second problem was suitable accommodation for overseas clients. The rather basic nature of wilderness hunting on the road meant that few clients ever visited New Zealand for a lengthy safari with their wife or family. Some of the early guides also thought overseas clients should be clones of rough and tough kiwi hunters. Paying money to stick pigs, carry heavy carcasses on the back, roughing it in a musterer’s hut, slogging up mountains in fruitless search of limited or poor quality game, and long freezing nights in the bush however just doesn’t cut the mustard from an overseas client point of view. He who pays the bills calls the tune is more apt, and the saying ‘happy wife: happy life’ applies in spades if a client is travelling with the family.

Today, both problems have largely been solved. Game estates provide the high scoring trophies, and the bigger operations have sporting Lodges that provide luxury accommodation for hunters and their wives. For hunting clients the word luxury means a place where the hunters spouse can join him or her in comfort during the safari and this is the angle Poronui took when structuring its own Lodge.

In practice this means guests have individual cabins (stand alone, spacious with ensuite), quality food is provided (gourmet/varied menus), the culture of New Zealand is on display (roasts, venison dishes, pavlova) there is hunting/fishing ambience in the main Lodge (family style dining, happy hour, open plan, library, trophies), and additional activities are available for the non-hunter and family (fishing, fly tying, horse riding, cycling, town visits to Taupo, walks, sightseeing, photography, skeet shooting, garden tours). The location, overlooking the home pool on the Taharua River is particularly tranquil, and balconies have been built in front of each room giving guests their own viewing platform to watch the water flow by.

Staff at a luxury lodge is crucial. Two key examples at Poronui are Eve and Steven. Eve Reilly, of Irish descent with the Irish humour to boot is Lodge Manager, and has steered the lodge ship since 1983, seeing it turn over time into a world class facility, while head chef Steven Paterson, fresh from Scotland produces his magic in the kitchen. Being close to Taupo, (a tourist centre) is a huge asset. The Poronui environment, is very scenic with amazing views of surrounding mountains and river valleys, has numerous native tree species and birdlife, has plentiful wild game to photograph and outside of mid-winter has a generally mild climate.

Driving into or out from the Lodge it is almost certain that a wild sika will give a fleeting view of itself as it scoots across the road. Some have become local identities.

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