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Poronui Experiences – Bob Lende
– Fly Fishing

Our introduction to Poronui was just before Christmas, 1994, early into our first trip to New Zealand. The then owner Simon Dickie greeted us and introduced us to lodge manager, Eve Reilly, who showed us to our cabin. Accommodations had been described as “rustic”, and they lived up to their billing! There were two duplex cabins for a total of four rooms, one of which was occupied by Eve. With one duplex occupied by a party of four, we moved into the one remaining room which shared a wall with Eve. Adjoining the cabins was a small lodge housing the kitchen, a dining table and a small sitting area…all in one room….very cozy….perfect for Hobbits!

Eve at Poronui 1994 Everything worked off bottled gas except for the lights, which were powered by a small electric generator that operated during daylight hours. After dark, our room was illuminated by a gas lantern. Meals were prepared “from scratch” by Eve. Before dinner, we assembled on a deck between the lodge and the cabins to enjoy cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, the latter consisting mostly of grilled eels provided by famed guide, fishing author, and consummateeeler, Hugh McDowell, who caught them on live bait while his fishing clients were enjoying lunch! Apart from fishing the evening hatch, the only after-dinner sport was spotlighting and shooting rabbits and possums for use as fly tying materials….and as eel bait!

We fished the “house waters” (the Mohaka, just above and below the confluence with the Taharua) for two of our three fishable days. On the other day, we helicoptered to Mystery Creek to experience a very different terrain. Accessing the fishing on the property was an experience: a spring flood had taken out a bridge over the Taharua, and our only access was by way of a temporary bridge constructed of three enormous logs placed across the stream.

The guide fearlessly drove forward…..we walked!

Early bridge over Taharua 1993During our three fishing days, we had ample opportunity to expand our fishing vocabulary, adding such arcane-sounding Kiwi-isms as “cockerbully” –as in “careful, that’s no cockerbully” (a small splashy trout) and “pozzie”–as in “I know a couple of good pozzies (promising lies/positions) just round the next wee bit.” More than once after receiving elaborate and detailed instructions from our guide, Elizabeth and I turned to each other and asked, in unison, “What did he just say ?!?”

We spent a delightful five nights/four days at Poronui until Christmas Eve when the lodge closed for the holidays. By then, we were the sole remaining guests. We enjoyed a final pre-Christmas dinner with Eve and the staff, complete with decorated tree and a gift exchange…not to mention appropriate holiday libations! We left Poronui determined to return…..

Fast forward to 2003. What happened to that return trip to New Zealand we promised ourselves eight years ago? It’s time to revisit an old favorite. Remembering the cabin arrangements from our earlier trip, we INSIST that Frontiers book the same room for us, so that we would once again share a wall with quiet and considerate Eve, not realizing that the property had undergone a massive upgrade since our first stay!

Imagine our surprise when we pull up to the new (to us) lodge where we are greeted by Eve who shows us to our spacious, luxurious and freestanding cabin.

Elizabeth Lende and GUide Poronui 1994Electric lights had replaced gas lanterns, elaborate canapés had replaced grilled eel, and sporting clays had replaced possum spotlighting. A proper bridge crossed the Taharua. There was a steam room now, and a sauna, and exercise equipment, and a massage room, and a masseuse, and a billiards room, and horses to ride, and stags to shoot, and a 10,000 bottle wine cellar, and on and on and on…. But what had not changed, thankfully, was the warm and caring hospitality that had so impressed us on our first visit. Once again we left Poronui determined to return….

And return we did! Annually! After our second visit, we extended our stays to two weeks per visit, to have the opportunity to fish the more than a dozen rivers which are accessed from Poronui and to fully enjoy the magnificent facilities and amenities that the “new” Poronui has to offer. We are looking forward to visit #11 in January…..and to renewing our friendships with both staff and fellow clients….and to creating even more memories to cherish of a fishing paradise half a world away..

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