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Glamping amongst the trophy Sika stags
– Hunting Experiences

The road to the Safari Camp

Poronui is located in the foothills of the North Island Kaimanawa Mountains. It is 16,000 acres in size with over a third of the property consisting of native beech forest.  Hunters seeking a trophy sika often opt for the popular Safari Camp.  It is camping under the stars with more than a few extra comforts!  After arrival at Poronui they travel down the main valley from north to south following the path of the Taharua River. The dense forests high above them form solid tree boundaries on both the western and eastern sides and these areas are where most of the sika herds are to be found. It is a beautiful drive often improved by the sight of fleeing sika that live in the nearby wetlands, scrub and bush. After passing the Red Hut, the valley narrows, and tightly packed manuka trees close in on the road. Hunters and guide are now deep in trophy stag country and need to be vigilant at all times. The Mohaka River forms the southern boundary and alongside the river is the Safari Camp.

safari camp in poronui

Glamping Poronui Style

Termed’ glamping: Poronui style’, this accommodation choice is best described as luxury  tenting located in a pristine environment. Hikers, anglers, mountain bikers, horse riders, photographers and hunters all have access to this accommodation option at different times of the year. Trophy sika hunters are most likely to book here in the months from late February to the end of April. The Safari Camp consists of two large bedroom tents on separate wooden platforms, an expansive dining tent and deck, a large barbeque, fridge and fireplace plus an ablutions block and communications radio. The site is isolated and private, set in native bush next to a fast running waterfall, ideally suits two groups, and includes creature comforts like cotton sheets, lights, heating, hot running water and flushing toilets. Provisions are provided and because hunters have strange hours are usually self-catered.

poronui river

Hunting big antlered sika stags 

Sika deer were first liberated in New Zealand at Poronui at Merrilees clearing, just behind the old homestead, in 1904. They have acclimatised very successfully and produce excellent antlers. The bottom end of the valley where the Camp is placed is only 1,600ft above sea level, 600 feet lower than the main Lodge so it is relatively warm. This part of the property is great country for rutting stags because of the deer numbers and the proximity to the farm and other key locations. Some huge stags have been harvested at this end of the property either in the beech forests, the forest fringes or in the scrub and wetlands on the river flats. Nearby Poronui Hill is another great hunting destination that is easily accessed from here. Hunters based here are living in comfort but planning strategy behind enemy deer lines!

The wary deer are expecting danger to drive down the road from the north and hunters walking and stalking from the Safari Camp are in their blind spot. Stags in particular, tend to wait around a minute or two longer than they should when a hunter unexpectedly appears. During the rut, stags are even slower returning to cover in the morning, and come out of cover earlier in the evening. Both weaknesses can result in their demise. Spot and stalk, ambush from lookouts, and bush stalking are all tactics used.

hunter showing his trophy sika deer

Safari Camp Experiences

In 2021 I stayed in the Safari Camp and that week was a memory I will long cherish. It was early in the rut and on colder evenings and misty mornings sika stags were squealing and he-hawing all around me. I heard deer eating grass outside the tent flap at night and early starts saw me surprising many deer on the access road. They all looked shocked as my slow moving vehicle appeared around the corner and had I been in hunting not camera mode at least two were top trophies I could have harvested. Outside of the trophy hunting season Poronui also offers spring venison hunts to groups who book the Safari camp. In Africa trophy hunters sit around blazing fireplaces each evening recounting each day’s adventures.  This is replicated at Poronui by guide and hunters sitting around a well stoked Safari Camp fire yarning while sika stags provide the background music.

Sike deer in poronui

Greg Morton: A New Zealand correspondent for the USA based publications The Hunting Report; The Bird Hunting Report and The Angling Report for many years. He presently writes a monthly article named Fair Chase for the New Zealand Fishing News and a hunting blog for Poronui Hunting.
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