The Best Places to Explore New Zealand by Horseback

Exploring New Zealand on horseback is a magical way to feel in harmony with the country's dramatic landscapes. Here's our pick of the top places to ride.

On horseback, New Zealand’s wide, open spaces and beautifully rugged landscapes inspire a true feel of the old days. During those times, settlers camped under the stars, panning for gold and digging for Kauri gum – getting around with the help of their trusty horses. Trekking on horseback, just like the early settlers did, offers a slower, more relaxed pace of exploring; it’s the perfect way to venture into the pristine New Zealand wilderness.

Internationally recognised, New Zealand’s equestrian industry extends to breeding horses ideal for trekking – horses that are friendly, reliable and easy to ride, no matter your level of riding experience.

There’s a myriad of horse trekking experiences on offer throughout the country. From half or full day treks to multi-day riding adventures staying in high country stations, there’s something for everyone. Inspired to saddle up and ride into the horizon? Here’s our top picks for an unforgettably scenic New Zealand horse riding experience.

Nelson

Home to New Zealand’s sunniest climate, Nelson is known for its beautiful beaches and coastline that’s bordered by dramatic mountain ranges. It’s an outdoor paradise home to a diverse range of horse trails and experiences. The Farwell Spit and Wharariki Beach Ride is one-of-a-kind; you’ll discover huge sand dunes, cliffs and turbulent waves on this wild, windswept coastline. Nearby Kahurangi National Park is home to untamed backcountry and towering mountains that are perfect to explore on horseback.

Find out more about horse riding in Nelson.

The West Coast

On the West Coast, horses were a key part of early settlers' daily lives, helping with farming, transport and gold mining. It’s the perfect place to take a step back in time to explore on horseback just like the early settlers; and the endless beaches and ancient forests make for an awesome adventure. Hear the roar of the ocean, ride under huge limestone bluffs and observe native birds like the colourful pukeko or the noisy Paradise duck.

Find out more about horse riding on the West Coast.

Mackenzie/Tekapo

We’ve saved the best for last. When you go horse riding in the Mackenzie country, you could be forgiven for thinking you’ve stumbled into the American West – and you’re not wrong! The Mackenzie country has been used as a location for a number of Hollywood westerns. Home to miles and miles of golden tussock, turquoise lakes and the mighty Southern Alps, the Mackenzie district is all the more spectacular when explored on horseback. There are many different types of horse riding experiences available here, but highly recommended is ‘The Overnighter’. On this adventure you’ll sleep in a tent next to an old shepherd’s camp, sleep rough under the stars, watch the sun rise above Mount Cook and cook over an open fire. It’s backcountry New Zealand adventure at its best.

Find out more about The Overnighter and horse riding in the Mackenzie/Tekapo region.

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