180. Sportsman’s Lodge, Turangi

Sportsman’s Lodge, Turangi: I was going to just roll this place into something about the whole of the North Island but I’m so enamored with it that I wanted to call it out. Amy likes it too, she’s just not as moved by wood paneling, fly rods on the walls, old timey photos of bugling elk, hooks outside your door for your waders and a really nice fish cleaning station. But while this is indeed a place for sportsmen, backing up to the rush of the trouty Tongariro river, it’s also the perfect place to wax nostalgic about a life you’d like to have. I’ve never been a hunter or a serious fisherman, but my grandfather was and maybe this place brings me back to the happy chaos of his trailer, where I slept on a cot beneath petrified trophy bass and stacks of shotgun shells. Or maybe it’s because on the lodge’s bookshelf, I found and read cover to cover an amazing relic called “Rex Forrester’s True Hunting Adentures,” the cover photo of which features a shaggy headed, suede boot-clad Kiwi Rex hanging from the strap of a helicopter while brandishing his Remington 742 rifle. The only real way to sum up the awesomeness of this book is to list its chapter titles, which I will do right now:

1. Buffalo Hunt in Montana
2. Wapiti Hunting against the Clock
3. The Memorable Old .303 Rifle
4. Hunting the Mountain King–Tahr
5. Voodoo Hunt in the Snows of Aorangi
6. The “Big Three” Marathons
7. Teach a Boy Hunting
8. Slaughter in the Clouds
9. Bring ‘em Back Alive
10. Hunt the Tenacious Sika Deer
11. Adventure with the “River Rats”
12. Hunting the Mountain Antelope—Chamois
13. Chopper Hunt in the Crags
14. Hunting the “Royal” Reds
15. The Challenging Roar of the Stag
16. The Stag’s Sabre-like Weapons
17. Hunting Fallow, the Timid Deer
18. Last-chance Fallow Stag
19. Rifles I’ve used in the Mountains
20. People Kill—Guns Don’t
21. Jetboats for Adventure

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, “what’ve jetboats got to do with anything?” I thought the same thing too, until I saw the photo of Barry Caruthers leaping from a jetboat in an attempt to kill a wild pig with his bare hands. Anyway, Betty and Doug’s Sportsman’s Lodge in Turangi: Recommended.

Photos left to right: The river wild, just out the back gate; father and son; Barry Caruthers prepares to “bulldog” a wild boar.


  1. So awesome! That looks like some yummy IPA. ;)

  2. Melissa EEEEEEEEEE says:

    "Slaughter in the Clouds?" Is that killing something way up on a mountain? Or killing angels? Yes, I bet that's it, killing angels.

  3. Sloan says:

    Would also be a great name for a Slaughter tribute band. If I recall right, that chapter was about heli-hunting which is surprisingly popular here. We were camped in the Fiordlands and talking to a NZ couple when a helicopter flew over us with three dead deer hanging from it. Amy had to bite her tongue, hard, when the woman said respectfully, "helicopter hunting is a real skill, incredibly dangerous for the hunter."