Another Stray exclusive stop was Blue Duck Station. It is described as an “outdoor enthusiast’s playground.” It is a private farm with zero cell service so we were literally off the grid for two nights with an abundance of nature around us. Blue Duck’s mission is to “conserve its endangered wildlife, increase the health of native bush and rivers, and preserve the history of the area, while educating visitors about the endangered New Zealand blue duck, other native species, and local history.” Everything they do from the farming to education supports their mission. It is a family run business and the owner came by our campfire the first night to chat.
Our first night we had the option of having a farm to table meal in the main cafe. Goat curry was on the menu. Afterwards, we all hung out by the campfire for hours and eventually moved inside when it started drizzling a bit and spent the rest of the evening playing card games, ping pong, etc. .
We were not lucky with the weather, and our full day at the Station was rainy from early in the morning through mid-afternoon. This prevented some activities like the jet boating to take place, but it was nice to have some down time. In the afternoon the rain stopped just in time for my group to go horse trekking. I was so disappointed in my experience at Rainbow Beach I had told myself I wouldn’t go commercial horse riding again. I was seriously contemplating for a long time whether or not if I should go at Blue Duck. I finally decided to give it a go thinking that since it was a farm it would be a better experience.
I’m so happy I went! The horses were beautiful and the majority of the horses on the farm are rescues. They are also very healthy, happy, and well taken care of. They roam and live outside freely, except for the occasional rides, and even then never working more than 3-4 days a week. After all the rain the conditions were muddy and it was a totally different kind of terrain than I’ve ridden in years. There were also only five of us riding and the guide, it was a great size for the group.
After the ride, I went for a walk on the property to see a waterfall. Upon returning we heard that the Tongariro Alpine Crossing was on for the next day and we would be leaving at 5:45am. It was an early, chill night.
We were sleeping in adorable cabins with two bunks in each (sleeping up to four people). The cabins were built within the last year so they were in great condition. I’ve been getting really lucky with my sleeping arrangements and have been on the bottom bunk…score! Hope this doesn’t jinx it. The bathrooms were in the main campsite building, but it was only a minute walk. There was also a huge kitchen, game room with ping pong table, dining area, and a library/reading room.