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New Zealand’s Poronui: a horse-rider’s paradise

Keen equestrian Laura Imperia recently spent nearly two weeks at Poronui indulging her passion for all things outdoors, particularly horse riding. We caught up with her before she left for home.

My husband Paul and I are adventure travelers. Paul is an avid fisherman and I have a love of horse trekking. Poronui is such a special lodge because it offers a premier experience for both of us.

This was our second visit to Poronui. The first was in 2004. We had such an amazing time we had to come back.

The lodge is managed by Eve and Claire and has all the comforts of home. The staff are professional and friendly. Chefs Kate, Steve, Glen and Matt prepare gourmet meals that are delicious and plentiful.

What makes Poronui so special for me is the equestrian experience. The horses are all New Zealand station bred, chosen for their sure-footedness. They are also in exceptional condition and love their jobs. I’ve never seen a barn and tack so well maintained.

Poronui sits on nearly 7000 hectares, looking out at the beautiful Kaimanawa and Kaweka Mountain Ranges, Taharua Valley and Mohaka River.

I rode for six days on a different track each day. They were all spectacular but my favorites were the Pinnacles and Stag Hill. We cantered up hills into beech forests filled with birds, red deer, sika deer, wild goats and views that went on forever. We rode to the Safari Camp for lunch and did long working trots while looking out on emerald green pastures, hillsides filled with wildflowers and manuka bushes just starting to bloom. I rode Tucker, Texas and Rocky and fell in love with each horse. By the end of the week I was in the best riding shape of my life.

I can’t compliment the horse guides enough. Lead guide, Tracy cares for the horses as well as she cared for me. Her knowledge and skills as an equestrian is top notch. I also enjoyed the conversations we had during our rides about the history of Poronui, the local fauna and flora, and current events.

Tracy was so accommodating, she even arranged two trips off the ranch: one to Taupo to watch some of the Ironman 70.3 event (American Meredith Kessler won) and another to the Christmas Classic Showjumping Event, where I got to see the famous Wilson Sisters and Katie Laurie ride to victory.

I have traveled the world for horse trekking and Poronui is my all-time favorite. I would recommend a stay there to any of my friends.

Thank you so much Eve, Claire and the entire staff at Poronui for creating such a magical experience. I can’t wait to come back again.

Poronui’s equestrian season has been extended until June 30th. A fully equipped arena is also nearly completed. For more information, contact [email protected].

Why guests keep returning to New Zealand’s Poronui Lodge

Elizabeth and Bob Lende spend four to five months of the year enjoying their home in San Antonio, Texas. The rest is spent traveling the world. One of their favourite places to visit? Poronui. Over the past few years they have clocked up an impressive 200 days’ stay at the lodge. Elizabeth explains why:

How do you mostly spend your time? We are both retired (happily since 1995). We both love to day hike and Bob’s favourite leisure activity is fly-fishing, so our travel plans are driven mainly by those two interests. We spend our summers in the Oregon Cascades where there is the opportunity to do both, and four weeks every northern spring on self-guided village-to-village walking trips in Europe.

Since 2003 we have been spending a month at Christmas/New Years in New Zealand because Bob enjoys the fly-fishing there, especially the wading and sight-casting to big rainbow and brown trout in beautiful surroundings. The fishing programme at Poronui delivers a brilliant opportunity for that type of fishing. We never tire of helicoptering out to sample the fishing in remote mountain streams that are protected and rested by the Poronui staff.

What is so special about Poronui? Apart from conducting the best fly-fishing programme in New Zealand, Poronui’s people make the place. Staff and guides coordinate to provide courteous, competent and professional support to every guest. Communal dining combines guides and guests in a congenial and stimulating atmosphere.

How would you spend a typical day at Poronui? While we are at Poronui primarily to fish, we are not compulsive about it. When weather or river conditions for fly-out fishing are marginal, we may spend the day enjoying Poronui’s other amenities, such as walking on the extensive property, enjoying a movie at the Stables, just catching up on reading.... or indulging ourselves with a healing massage from the delightful Nancy Maniapoto! We have also traveled to nearby Taupo on non-fishing days for shopping, lunch, or a daylong hike up and over the Tongariro Crossing.

What special memories do you have of the lodge? Every visit to Poronui brings new experiences to add to our ever-growing collection of treasured memories of the place. Sometimes it's landing a fish that should have gotten away, or a culinary triumph in the Wine Cellar, or a fascinating conversation over breakfast with a fellow guest who just happens to be a world-renowned expert on molecular biology or nuclear energy policy.

If you were recommending Poronui to a friend, how would you describe it? When we recommend Poronui, we highlight the unmatched charm and comfort of the facility, the genuine warmth and professionalism of the staff and, of course, the uniquely appealing fly-fishing programme with its access to such a widely diverse and productive fishery.

How many times have you visited? Our first visit to Poronui was December 1994. We have returned annually since January 2003 for a total of 16 visits totaling more than 200 days.

How long is your average stay? Our typical stay at Poronui is two weeks. We have found a longer stay more relaxing because we do not feel compelled to make every day a fishing day.

Do you have a favourite spot/place at the lodge? Fishing the Mohaka in the morning and up to the Safari Camp for a late lunch is a special treat we try to manage once a stay.

What makes you feel particularly welcome at Poronui? From the moment we arrive until the dreaded day we depart, Eve and her carefully chosen crew make us feel like cherished family members.

How does Poronui compare to other resorts you’ve visited? We have visited several other lodges (both fishing and non-fishing) in New Zealand since our first visit in 1994. In our view, no other lodge quite measures up to Poronui in terms of overall hospitality.

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