Our First Hand Experience: Horse Riding in New Zealand's South Island
18 April 2019
Horse Trekking in New Zealand’s South Island
Recently I was the luckiest person to get to spend three days horse trekking in the Ahuriri Valley.
This spectacular valley is located at the end (or start depending where you’re coming from) of the Lindis Pass in New Zealand’s South Island.
A group of ten friends – girls of a certain age but young at heart – met at Birchwood Station on a stunning crisp Autumn day. Dropping our bags at the absolutely charming Birchwood Station homestead we wandered down to meet our partners for the next few days.
Ten beautiful standard bred/shire cross horses were waiting eagerly (warily?) to meet us. These horses have all been bred by our hosts Angie and John. They are simply divine. Incredibly well mannered, fast walkers and as we would discover exploring over the next three days incredibly nimble on their feet! The horses were in such beautiful condition and very very fit.
One of the most exciting elements for me on this trip was it was going to be a digital detox but Chardonnay still allowed. This would be the first time in almost six I completely switched off from the office and had no absolutely no contact (thank you lovely MD staff). There is no wifi or cellphone range for 3 ½ days. Our hosts have satellite phones for emergencies only. That was complete bliss.
Each day the rides were anything from 5 hours to 7 hours. We all had a reasonable level of fitness and all of us had ridden before but previous riding experience isn’t necessary.
We explored the valley over the three days going deep into the National Park. On our first day we climbed 1600 meters above sea level. It was exhilarating and took us through native bush, over golden tussock and breath taking views. The second day we went deep into the valley to an incredible canyon. Here the horses got a break as we dismounted, left them at a great grassy patch for their lunch and we scrambled up a steep hill to the most beautiful look out point. The third day we had great fun with river crossings and up into the hills to the Green Lake.
Every day offered adventure, a little bit of intrepid and just the most incredible opportunity to immerse in silence and beauty.
What made this mini break so very very special was our hosts Angie and John. They have created such a professional and slick business but it is such a personable experience. The food was divine – I think those poor horses carried more and more weight as the holiday went on. The homestead was full of fun hospitality with roaring fires, great wine, delicious food and so much time for chat and relaxing with friends - especially without the distraction of digital interference. All subtly hosted by John and Angie with their endless stories, banter and kindness. We were also so very well supported by three of their gorgeous wranglers.
Angie and John run these boutique trail rides in some of the South Island’s most treasured spots. The trips run from 3 nights to 7 nights. I just can’t wait to introduce this to our MajorDomo guests – it is ideal for families or a group of friends wanting a great getaway together.
The team at MajorDomo are experts at creating exceptional and unique experiences – if you’d like some help planning a unique New Zealand activity, do not hesitate to get in touch with our amazing team of local gurus.