23. Dine and stay at Blue Duck Station
Wine and dine your way through New Zealand with these magnificent locations: here is No. 23 of our 101 Reasons To Stop Dreaming About New Zealand And Go.
Located at the convergence of the Retaruke and Whanganui Rivers in remote wilderness west of the three volcanic peaks of Tongariro national park, Blue Duck Station is a New Zealand destination like no other. With protected habitats for the country’s iconic kiwi and the whio – the endangered little blue duck that gives the property its name – it’s a compelling combination of conservation project and eco-savvy farm stay inspired by the vision of founder, Dan Steele.
Visit for accommodation including five rustic farm lodges or sign up for adventures taking in bush hiking, trekking, kayaking and mountain biking. There’s also the opportunity for exciting jet boat and walking adventures to the Bridge to Nowhere in Whanganui National Park, a towering bush-clad viaduct originally built so horses could cross the river to farmland provided to Kiwi soldiers returning home from the First World War. Within a few years, they’d abandoned the area’s poor soil, and the Bridge to Nowhere had no purpose.
Blue Duck Station’s blend of remote wilderness, rugged adventure and authentic Kiwi hospitality can be enjoyed every day but on weekends in all but the winter months its unique Chef’s Table experience is also on offer. Journey six hours from Auckland/Tāmaki Makaurau or Wellington/Te Whanganui-a-Tara to the North Island/Te Ika-a-Māui’s Ruapehu region – including a final leg along an unsealed road for 17 kilometres – before embarking on a rollicking two-hour off-road ATV (all-terrain vehicle) farm adventure to the most unlikely mountain-top location to enjoy a 10-course degustation experience harnessing fresh, locally sourced and seasonal produce.
British chef Jack Cashmore has worked in top restaurants in the United Kingdom and Belgium, but only at Blue Duck does he have the opportunity to forage for native bush herbs and delicate wood ear mushrooms or prepare farm-raised lamb or wild eel sourced from the property. His dining rooms at de Wulf in Belgium or Anglo in London also didn’t enjoy views of Mt Ruapehu to the east and Mt Taranaki to the west.
Blue Duck’s rustic, sky-high dining room located at the highest point of the property’s 3000 hectares can only be reached by helicopter or ATV. Factor in the intimate company of a maximum of 10 diners, and natural and biodynamic New Zealand wines served by Cashmore’s partner, viticulturist Beth Williamson, and it’s a unique experience. There’s even the opportunity to overnight in luxury eco-cabins near the restaurant’s remote elevated position.