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The longest pack trip in New Zealand. Your guides Laurie and Jenny have been doing this ride for 14 years. Once a year they head south from their base at Waitohi Downs to Lake Tekapo. Then after a week’s rest the horses make the journey back home with a new group of riders.
The scenery varies along the way. From snow capped mountains and open tussock pastures to wide flowing rivers and sparkling lakes. You are accompanied throughout the trail by either Lawrie or Jenny and in some parts both of them along with their competent team of helpers.
The accommodation can be very basic and sometimes everyone sleeps in a one room musterers’ shack; other nights are spent in comfortable shearer quarters or farm stays.
Everything is carried on the pack horses, although a support vehicle does meet you every few days with fresh supplies.
We will always book you into the horse base at Waitohi Downs for the night before the ride and the night you get back. This allows for flexability if weather conditons hamper the ride.
Please note that this is an adventurous, participatory ride and you will be involved in the daily work on the trip. If you are an experienced rider you will help in the mornings getting the horses ready and may also be asked to help with the free running packhorses and loose horses. That might mean leading and keeping them in order when needed. If you are not an experienced rider, there are plenty of other jobs to do such as helping in the kitchen, doing dishes and cleaning the huts in the morning before you leave.
The horses are surefooted Thoroughbred Clydesdale crosses of at least 16hh. Nearly all are homebred and are gentle giants.
This ride is suitable for any level of rider although due to the terrain it is not suitable for nervous riders nor for those who suffer from vertigo. You will be spending long hours in the saddle and so it is important to be physically fit and able to mount and dismount unaided. To ensure you are matched with the appropriate horse you should be honest about your previous riding experience.
Due to the nature of the terrain and the fact that you have pack horses on the trail, all the riding is done at a walk.
You MUST also be able to walk downhill. You will stay on your horse on uphill sections, but always dismount for downhill and so you must be able to walk downhill, perhaps on loose shingle and lead your horse at the same time, perhaps for up to one hour. Good hips, knees and ankles are necessary.
Hard hats are mandatory on this ride.
Waitohi Downs can accommodate up to six guests and there are a number of other homestays nearby where you may stay the first and last night. These all have shared facilities.
Accommodation on the trail includes bunk rooms in shepherds / musterers huts or shearers quarters. You may also have to sleep on airbeds in tents if the group numbers are large.
It is not possible to have a single room and you must be prepared to share. Sometimes the accommodation is very basic and on occasion you may all be sleeping in one room. In some places there are limited or no washing or loo facilities.
INCLUDES All meals; tea; coffee; cordial; accommodation; saddle bags; swag roll to carry your sleeping bag and clothes; riding and pack horse support; return transfers between Christchurch and Alpine Horse Safaris base at set times.
SINGLE SUPPLEMENT Single rooms are not possible so you must be prepared to share.
PAYABLE LOCALLY Tips, alcoholic drinks and special diet supplement.
NEAREST AIRPORT Christchurch.
TRANSFERS Included at set times.
NOT INCLUDED International flights to Christchurch.
The ride sets off from the horse's base at 09.00. Most people will have stayed the night before at Waitohi Downs (the horse's base) for the ride briefing and guidance on packing.
Flights should arrive into Christchurch at least two days before the start of the ride to allow guests to recover from jetlag. Return flights should be booked to depart Christchurch three days after the end of the ride to allow for any delays that may occur during the ride.
If you wish to have transfers then collection from Christchurch airport can be booked. The collection is normally between 2 and 4pm. Collection from a Christchurch hotel may be possible.
Return flights should depart Christchurch after mid day.
The trip runs south from Waitohi Downs near Hawarden to your destination Lake Tekapo and also in reverse when the horses head back north for the trek home. Nearest airport is Christchurch.
November can have four seasons in one day and you need to be prepared for all weather conditions. At night it may get cold enough for a frost and day time could be warm and sunny, with anything in between including rain, snow or brilliant sunshine.
Waterproof thermal riding gloves and well fitting hiking/dual purpose boots are a must.
In The Saddle says
This is 'Lord of the Rings' territory and during some parts of the trail you can just imagine being part of the film.