Land of the Long White Cloud Ride

About the Experience

The Maori name for New Zealand is Aotearoa: “The Land of the Long White Cloud.” One glimpse of this utterly breathtaking landscape, and you quickly see why. Moving under this endless blue sky, the spectacular mountains part before you like a portal into another realm, and you feel as if you’re coasting through some private little corner of the heavens. 

The trip is done on horseback, setting the pace for a wholly unique adventure, where your days are spent trotting through stony river beds, glacial blue river water gliding beneath your feet. You will steadily round the curve of a majestic mountain bluff, the mane of your steed tousling about your fingertips. You will dine on delicious, freshly prepared farmhouse feasts…and surprise your taste buds with the robust flavors of a specially-crafted “wild food” meal. Wind your hands through the baby-soft luxury of some of the finest merino wool in the world. Or stroll through the Wanaka Winery sipping the golden sweetness of a Riesling…though it will be difficult to pick out tasting notes when the scenery before you is so jaw-dropping.

The solitude and beauty of this land overwhelms, and is enough to break your heart a bit. When night falls after a day of cantering, your lips may hum with the gentle melody of a ukulele song plucked out around the campfire. As you stretch out for bed beneath a million twinkling stars, you will again feel at one with the sky…and will rest soundly, knowing that the expansive freedom and wild joy of this journey will never, ever leave you.

Click here to see the full itinerary!
Land of the Long White Cloud Ride

About the Experience

The Maori name for New Zealand is Aotearoa: “The Land of the Long White Cloud.” One glimpse of this utterly breathtaking landscape, and you quickly see why. Moving under this endless blue sky, the spectacular mountains part before you like a portal into another realm, and you feel as if you’re coasting through some private little corner of the heavens. 

The trip is done on horseback, setting the pace for a wholly unique adventure, where your days are spent trotting through stony river beds, glacial blue river water gliding beneath your feet. You will steadily round the curve of a majestic mountain bluff, the mane of your steed tousling about your fingertips. You will dine on delicious, freshly prepared farmhouse feasts…and surprise your taste buds with the robust flavors of a specially-crafted “wild food” meal. Wind your hands through the baby-soft luxury of some of the finest merino wool in the world. Or stroll through the Wanaka Winery sipping the golden sweetness of a Riesling…though it will be difficult to pick out tasting notes when the scenery before you is so jaw-dropping.

The solitude and beauty of this land overwhelms, and is enough to break your heart a bit. When night falls after a day of cantering, your lips may hum with the gentle melody of a ukulele song plucked out around the campfire. As you stretch out for bed beneath a million twinkling stars, you will again feel at one with the sky…and will rest soundly, knowing that the expansive freedom and wild joy of this journey will never, ever leave you.

DAY ONE: KIA ORA NEW ZEALAND

To begin your adventure, meet the group at either the Queenstown Airport (ZQN) at 1 pm or the Station Building at 1:30 pm for our transfer to Hunter Valley Station. Settle in for the 2 1/2 -hour scenic drive as we make our way into the scenic New Zealand countryside. 

At Hunter Valley Station, the deck looks out over the picturesque Lake Hawea and old rustic farm buildings. We will have a light lunch and get to know one another during our orientation. Your guide, Angie, will review the trip logistics, share about the breeding of the horses, the history and legends of the location, and answer any questions you have about your upcoming adventure.

The evening is free to explore Hunter Valley Station, walk around the lake or just enjoy soaking up the view on the deck.

 

DAY TWO: HUNTER VALLEY HORSES

After breakfast, you will be introduced to your horse and we will review tacking, group riding and safety guidelines for our ride. Once mounted, we set out to enjoy a beautiful ride beside the picturesque Lake Hawea. This is to ensure that we have a happy relationship between horse and rider. Upon returning to the shearers quarters, we kick off our boots for lunch out on the deck overlooking the stunning Lake Hawea.

The afternoon is spent engaging in an Equine Assisted Learning session with Angie, who is an Equine Facilitator, and the horses in the round pen. 

Enjoy our evening meal and our second overnight stay at the beautiful Hunter Valley Quarters.

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Riding Details: 15 km / 9.32 mi

 

DAY THREE: THE SHORES OF LAKE HAWEA

Packing our saddle bags after a lovely home cooked breakfast, we say goodbye to Hunter Valley Station. Today we ride through native Beech forests and waterfalls, travelling alongside this imposingly beautiful lakeside, we head towards Hunter Valley Boundary Hut. We’ll see Hereford cattle and Merino sheep roaming freely. The group can be split into two today for those who want to enjoy a relaxing walk and alternatively, those who wish to trot and canter.

As we ride we pass by old, fishing cribs constructed in the 1950s by Kiwi fishermen/ women. An acknowledgment of the incredible fishing in this beautiful setting.

All day we are looking into the awe-inspiring Hunter Valley with its crisscrossing mountain vista. We will stop along the way for photo opportunities so don’t forget to bring plenty of batteries.

On arrival, we enjoy afternoon nibbles and later dinner on the expansive decking with an incredible mountain backdrop. Riders can walk down to the river for a swim in the evening or simply enjoy relaxing, chatting or reading a good book.

This is a renowned fly fishing river and those fisherwomen amongst the group may wish to take time to enjoy this catch and release river (gear must be thoroughly cleaned and you will require a New Zealand fishing license).

There is an opportunity to sleep out under the stars tonight if you so desire…

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Riding Details: 26 km / 16.16 mi

 

DAY FOUR: HUNTER VALLEY RIDE

*Riders can either enjoy a rest day at Boundary Hut or ride into the magnificent Hunter Valley  

  • This is one of New Zealand’s best fly-fishing rivers, those fly fisherwomen amongst us may wish to spend the day out on the river.
  • The Hunter River is a beautiful location to do watercolour painting, go walking or just enjoy reading a good book lying beside the river or sitting on the porch.

Afterwards, we’ll enjoy a hearty breakfast and pack our lunches (those who are riding saddle up and ride deep into the Hunter Valley) This trail meanders through an ice blue glacial river flanked by magnificent mountain ranges. Riders can enjoy seeing trout playing in the river or rare New Zealand Falcons flying high overhead.

This is a ride you will not forget as the incredible isolation and beauty are overwhelming. There are plenty of opportunities for trotting and cantering if people so desire. Returning to the Boundary hut for the evening we enjoy wine and nibbles before dinner on the deck (weather permitting). You can sleep under the stars if you wish! There is no electricity in this hut but we do enjoy limited solar lighting. We’ll later enjoy an evening singing around the open fire in the living area to the ukulele.

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Riding Details: This group can be split into two for those who wish to have a longer day riding. 6 hourswith breaks. You will ride deep into the breathtaking Hunter Valley. The magnificent Hunter River braids its way through the valley with ice blue glacial waters and stoney riverbeds. Attentive riding is required and riders need to follow wranglers instructions at all times. Options to split it into two groups:
    • Cantering and trotting
    • Walking pace
  • Mileage: 20 – 30 km / 12.43 – 18.64 mi

 

DAY FIVE: RIDE TO DINGLEBURN STATION

Tummies full of breakfast and tucker boxes packed, we will be heading out to cross the crystal-clear Hunter river into the Dingleburn station. We will spend the day feeling as though we are riding in a postcard as the views throughout the day are spectacular and daydreamy. The lake acts as a mirror, reflecting the stunning views. We will be looking back across the lake at Hunter Valley Station and Lake Hawea that we rode around previously.

Today there will be opportunities to trot and canter at various times, or a walking pace and opportunity to enjoy the views.

Our accommodation for the evening is the Dingleburn shearers quarters, located in an amazing mountain setting. The Dingleburn station is known for its production of some of the finest merino wool in the world. Here we have hot showers, flushing toilets, electricity from the station generator /hydropower scheme and a wonderful cookhouse where we will enjoy a farm cooked meal and a relaxing evening. There is a washing machine at the station for those who wish to catch up on some washing. There are plenty of bunk rooms to choose from with communal showers and flushing toilets.

We often enjoy watching station life, as shepherds herd sheep with their dogs at this iconic station. The stock manager and owner of this station is Nikki Meads, who often drops in for a chat if she is not too busy. It is great to enjoy a peep through the window into station life.

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Riding Details: You will ride across the braided Hunter River today and then along the side of Lake Hawea on an established stock trail utilized by the station. There are free roaming sheep, beef cows, wild deer and rabbits. The track is rocky and at times muddy riders require attentive riding.
  • Riding Time: 6 hours with breaks. Options to split up for the various speed of riding.
  • Mileage: 22 km / 13.67 mi

 

DAY SIX: EXPLORING ‘THE BLUFF’

This is a relaxing morning with a 10 am brunch in the cookhouse. Saddle up and head for the Lake Hawea Hotel. We will pass the waterfall that provides the hydropower for the station. This is a wonderful picturesque gentle day of riding.

En-route we will ride up onto the peninsula and look back up through the Hunter Valley. Keep the camera handy as views of Mount Aspiring, Lake Hawea and the bluff will take your breath away. Weather permitting; we enjoy lunch on the reserve at the base of the mountains. We ride along the Dingleburn stock track, ”the bluff” you will be amazed at the pioneering Kiwi ingenuity that constructed this access way into such a stunning and remote station.

We leave the horses in the Dingleburn Cattle yards for the night. The horses will enjoy a good night on the hay whilst we will be transported to the Lake Hawea Hotel for our nights’ accommodation and evening meal.  We arrive at the Hawea Hotel around 2 pm. There is a laundry at the hotel for those who wish to do some washing. This Hotel overlooks Lake Hawea and we can enjoy the luxury of dinner looking out over the lake.

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner (set menu)
  • Riding Details: Today we are riding on a station stock track which has a variety of steep track, rocky areas, muddy areas and beautiful small glacial streams with rocky riverbeds. The bluff is a narrow track blown out of the side of the mountain that skirts the edge of the lake. Attentive riding skills are required- riders must listen and follow wranglers instructions at all times. Due to the terrain, we will only be riding at a walking pace today.
  • Riding Time: 3 ½ hours riding
  • Mileage: 15 km / 7.46 mi

 

DAY SEVEN: REST DAY IN WANAKA

After breakfast, we will meet in the dining room to discuss the day ahead. A packed lunch is provided and the morning is free for exploring Wanaka township and the beautiful Wanaka lake. Guides will accompany the riders into Wanaka. This is a great opportunity to do some shopping as there are a number of tourist shops, coffee shops, and supermarkets if you need anything. It is a quaint town with incredible views from the beachfront to enjoy your packed lunch.

This afternoon, the taxi will pick us up and we head over to enjoy a winery tour en route to the Birchwood Station Homestead. Taste award-winning boutique wines Wanaka Vineyards in the company of a winery tour guide who loves showing off Central Otago’s award-winning wines, spectacular scenery, and sharing the wonderful stories of the region.

Whilst you enjoy your relaxing day, the horses are being transported to the Birchwood Station for the remainder of our ride.

After our wine tour, we too head to Birchwood Station to join the horses for the next exciting part of our expedition. Enroute we will travel over the Lindis Pass which is the highest Alpine pass in New Zealand for vehicles.  This is a very picturesque journey.

The Birchwood Homestead is a beautifully restored historic building. We enjoy soft beds, hot showers, washing machine, electric blankets, shared bedrooms(2 to a room), a large farmhouse kitchen. We will be staying here for the next four nights. We’ll enjoy a two-course farm cooked meal in the dining room of the Birchwood Station homestead.

 

DAY EIGHT: CLIMBING THE DINGLEBURN TRACK

After breakfast, lunches packed, the horses saddled and cameras placed into the saddlebags, we are off on the first of our wonderful adventures into this picturesque Ahuriri Conservation Park. The mountains flank our trail making us feel very small in comparison as we head into the valley following the meandering Ahuriri River. Meeting the Dingleburn track we climb to the top of the Mt Gladwish mountain range to a height of 1600 meters above the sea, on an old pack trail. This is an exhilarating ride through native bush and into the high golden tussock to the top of the ridge. At the mountain peak, we look down to the West, the Dingleburn River and to the North East, we see the headwaters of the Ahuriri River and the Barrier mountain ranges stretching out before us. We enjoy lunch in this heady and breathtaking environment before heading back down the track following our footsteps to the homestead where hot showers and warm fire await us.

Back at the homestead, the horses enjoy a beautiful grassy paddock right outside the homestead. This evening, relax and enjoy a “wild food” cooking demonstration by a qualified chef Megan Kelly in the homestead kitchen. Megan has had many years tutoring at chef’s college. You can ask Meg any questions about tips for cooking these types of foods. Once cooked we will enjoy this wild food feast.

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Riding Details: Exhilarating mountain riding, breaks included. You will ride on a narrow, steeply inclined mountain trail to the mountain tops, riders will require attentive riding skills. Due to the mountain terrain, we are unable to canter and trot today.
  • Mileage: Approximately 22 km / 13.67 mi

 

DAY NINE: AHURIRI VALLEY RIDE

A hearty cooked breakfast to set us up for our big day. With lunch boxes packed and cameras charged, we head down to saddle up the horses. Today’s ride sees our adventure head deep into the magnificent Ahuriri Valley. Today we can split the group to walk and enjoy the view or trot along on a flat and well-marked track.

The valley is filled with waterfalls and the glacial fed river tumbles its way over the river bed stones that the South Island is so famous for. This is an area where the Department of Conservation has spent a great deal of time and money on the preservation of the Black Stilt. We will be sticking to the tracks to prevent any disturbance to these wonderful birds. DOC is doing such a wonderful job and the numbers of mating pairs have increased significantly under their care. After three and a half hours we enjoy lunch at one of the many huts in the valley, boiling a billy for a nice hot cuppa.

We retrace our footsteps to the homestead; the view looking down the valley is so very different on the return journey in such imposing mountain country. Our second evening at the homestead sees us enjoy a Kiwi barbecue in the garden with its natural landscape setting.

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Riding Details: About 6.5 hours, breaks included. You will ride alongside and through the magnificent Ahuriri River with its varying terrain, the ice blue glacial river cannot hide the plentiful trout playing in its depths. Riders will require attentive riding.

 

DAY TEN: GREEN LAKE RIDE

Earlier start today as we saddle up and make our way down the valley to today’s destination, the “green lake” at 1200 meters above the sea. This is a beautiful crystal-clear tarn set in the heart of the mountains. Large trout cruise the edges of this wee tarn. There is a small bivi hut where we will enjoy our lunch and hot drinks. We enjoy outstanding views of the snowy gorge and surrounding snow-capped mountain ranges.

After lunch, we ride out of the mountains to the Ben Avon station road and back to the Birchwood Station homestead for dinner on our final evening, a celebration of our time together in this idyllic location.

  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Riding Details: Riders experience river crossings, steep inclining mountain trails and high tussock. Due to the huge rabbit population, the ground is pockmarked with rabbit holes making cantering and trotting too dangerous for the horses and riders today. The varying terrain provides interest and requires attentive riding.
  • Riding Time: 5 ½ hours, breaks included.
  • Mileage: Approximately 18 km / 11.18 mi

 

DAY ELEVEN: DEPARTURE

A final Kiwi style breakfast and then you will make your way home. Hop in the provided taxi at 10 am for the drive back to Queenstown. Expect to arrive around 1:30 pm with drop off at the airport first, then the Station Building downtown.

 

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