Hurunui Horse Trek Photo Gallery
Written by Cathy Siegismund
On the evening of March 15, I arrived at the Hurunui Hotel, a typical New
Zealand pub and hotel, where I would meet the other riders and guides on the trek.
We spent the evening enjoying dinner, and getting to know each other.
The seven riders on the Mountains to Sea horse trek
We had a great and diverse group on the trek. Grant was a farmer
from the North Island of New Zealand, Barbara from Germany, Alana from Colorado,
Wendy and Liz from the UK, and Phil from the UK. Our three guides were
Camille from Australia, Steve from the UK, and
Justin from New Zealand.
The next morning, Rob from Hurunui Horse Treks picked us up at the hotel, to
take us out to Hamner Springs where we picked up the horses.
Jam, my horse for the next 9 days
Jam, like many of the trek horses is a Stationbred. These are a Thoroughbred and Clydesdale mix. Many of these horses are bred and raised wild on the
stations, and are later caught and broke for trekking or mustering.
We were soon riding up the mountains out of Hamner Springs. The first day we
took turns leading the pack horses, although they were not to be loaded with
their packs until the second day.
Riding out of Hamner Springs
On the first day, we stopped for lunch and learned the lunch routine. We would
tie up our bridles and then as all the horses wore a halter and lead rope
under their bridles, we would use the lead rope to tie the horses to the nearest
tree or sturdy piece of brush.
Horses grazing while we eat lunch
Our first night, we stayed at a the Acheron accommodation house. This is one
of the many huts, free or very low cost places we stayed. These huts range from
one room huts, which musterers (Kiwi cowboys) and hunters use, to several roomed
structures with showers and kitchens. The two things every hut will have
is a fireplace and some water source, either a cistern or a nearby river.
Wendy and Liz setting up our sleeping bags on night one
As the first night's stop had road access, two folks from the horse trek
outfit met us at camp the first night and cooked us a great dinner and brought
the supplies for the pack horses.
The second day was the first day with the pack horses fully loaded, so it
took a while to get everything packed up and ready to go.
Grant leading a pack horse
We began riding into the government owned Molesworth station, the largest
cattle station in New Zealand, and began following, and crossing the Clarence
River. We also began riding through some very remote and tough terrain, we would
be able to see Mount
Tapuaenuku, the highest point outside the Southern Alps.
Riding into Molesworth Station and crossing the Clarence
We repeatedly crossed the Clarence River
Pack horses having lunch
Pack horses, now loose and leading the way
After two days of all of us taking turns leading the pack horses, they were
now turned loose. For most of the rest of the trek they trotted along in front,
sometimes behind a guide, and other times blazing the trail on their own. Most of
our time was spent in the saddle, however, we also did a fair amount of
walking. Pretty much any steep hill we road up, we walked and led the horses
Leading the horses down the steeper slopes
The second day we had nice weather but we were all pretty tired and ready to stop by the
time we reached camp at Cloudy Range hut. This was a musterers' hut, with a
kitchen and bunks.
Cloudy Range Hut
Kitchen and bunks at Cloudy Hut, not exactly the Hilton, but we all got
a good night's sleep
View from Cloudy Hut
That evening, Wendy's knee was really bothering her, so she and her friend
Liz decided to call it quits and the guides arranged for a 4-wheel drive to
come out and pick them up, weather permitting. As we were getting pretty far
from the beaten path and the forecast was for rain, it was a bit touch and go as
whether a truck would be able to get through. The next morning we awoke to
pouring rain, and got to try out our long oilskin coats. We all had that real
"Man from Snowy River" look but we were also all soon very wet and cold.
We saw beautiful rugged scenery -- the cold weather even
brought snow to the higher peaks
We had a long and tiring day, riding up tough country and walking down some
very muddy and slippery slopes. We were extremely happy to see Willows Hut.
Our first sight of Willows Hut
Another small musterers' hut, it was a small one room hut but did have running water
a fireplace and bunk beds. We built a warm fire, and everyone peeled out of
their soaked clothes and draped them around the hut to dry. After a warm and
hearty dinner, we had a great night's sleep in the cozy hut.
On the fourth day, we had woke to sunny skies and frost. The day was long and
included a ride over an area called the fells which is 900 meters high.
The day, however, was warm and we had a lovely ride toward Muzzle Station, a
huge and remote station formerly Quail Flat homestead built around 1860. Muzzle
Station is now owned by a couple who raise everything including sheep, cattle,
deer, and horses. The station is so remote they can only drive out 7 months of
the year, and the rest of the year they can only fly how by either their plane
We would spend two nights at Muzzle Station in the original mud brick
homestead, which now serves as the sheep shearers' hut. Rob and Mandy, owners of
Hurunui Horse Trek, would be meeting us at Muzzle, and not only would the horses
get a day off, but we would as well and have the chance to take showers and wash
Beautiful scenery at Muzzle Station
The original homestead at Muzzle Station, our home for two
The new house at Muzzle Station The girls room, which Barbara and Alana and I shared
Drying out our newly washed clothes and horse pads
Muzzle Stations commuter vehicle
On our day off, after a leisurely morning - most days on the trek we are up
before the sun - and a nice hot breakfast, showers and laundry we explored some
of the station. We saw some of the their stock, got a tour of their small hydro
power plant, which powers Muzzle, and got an education on honey production. A
couple who keeps 500 hives on Muzzle station showed us their honey extraction
facility, and told us how they work their hives. I was amazed that on a good
year, their 1500 hives will produce 20 tons of honey! We also enjoyed two great
home-cooked meals at the main house at Muzzle.
One of this year's foals
A group of young Merino rams
The morning we were to leave Muzzle Station, we awoke to pouring rain and
blustery thunder storms. As we didn't have a very long day, we had a leisurely breakfast and didn't head out until about 10:00am, when the rain had
Steve saddling up a pack horse as we prepare to leave Muzzle
We backtracked for about half a day as we left Muzzle Station. After lunch, we
left the Clarence and started making our way toward the Seaward Kaikoura Range.
We rode along the river bed of the Herring Stream to Bluff Dump Hut, which
was one of the most picturesque.
Riding along the river bed
Unpacking the horses at Bluff Dump Hut
Jam and our last hut of the trek
Barbara and Alana cleaning up the hut
Bluff Dump Hut, was quite small, but did have a fireplace and was next to a stream for water. However, a few of us had to sleep in tents.
A few were sleeping in tents our last night out
Phil relaxing and Steve and Justin cooking our dinner
Our last day of real trekking, was a long one. We awoke very early and set
out in the cold morning toward Kaikoura and over the rugged Seaward Kaikoura
Range. This trek included a ride past Dead Horse Gully, an old pack horse trail
where a mule train had met a Clydesdale pack train and the mules took the inside
path; this sadly resulted in the Clydesdales tumbling down the mountain.
Justin, our guide, riding his horse over the final tough
Breathtaking views from the Seaward Kaikoura Range
Cath riding Jam up the Seaward Kaikoura Range
Our first view of the ocean on our trek
Cath and Jam posing at the summit with the ocean in the
After reaching the summit of the pass, we started the long walk and ride down
into the foothills around Kaikoura where we would end our trek.
Foothills around Kaikoura
After a long day's ride, we arrived at Kahutara Homestead, a farmstay owned
my Nicky and John Smith. After we put the horses away, we were treated to
absolute luxury at Nicky and John's. We got to sleep in real beds, have long hot
showers, and enjoyed a hearty home-cooked meal. This was the end of our trek,
but the next day we were all going on a half-day ride down to the ocean and to go
for a beach ride.
We awoke to a warm sunny morning, and after a great breakfast saddled the
horses and took off toward the beach. John, did tell us not to be alarmed if we
heard live gunfire, as the New Zealand special forces was holding maneuvers in
the area we would ride through to get to the beach. He said "no worries", I'll
let them know you're coming. This struck us as very Kiwi and very funny.
We had a great time riding on the beach, including riding the horses down
into the surf and having a little race down the beach.
Barbara on the beach - Jam's ears in the forefront
Phil riding Packer
Cath and Jam on the beach
Our last group shot on the beach
Ken was waiting for us back at the Kahutara Homestead.
End of the trek
Although the rest of the group was spending one more night at Nicky and
John's, Ken and I decided to leave for Christchurch right after lunch.