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Day 1 You will be collected from Queenstown airport and driven to Constable’s Cottage in St. Bathan’s to meet your guide and wranglers. While your luggage is transferred to the accommodation you will have a short ride in the local area to ensure you are well matched with your horse. The ride lasts about 2 hours and includes a visit to the historic hotel in St Bathan’s where you can take photos. The rest of the day is free for you to explore the historic gold mining town and see the restored mud brick houses, or just relax and have a drink in the hotel. Dinner will be served in the historic cottage which is your accommodation for the evening.
After breakfast the adventure begins with a spectacular day riding along, and through, Dunstan River to Dunstan Downs Station. The beautiful glacial river is a popular fishing spot where you may spot trout feeding in the pools. The trail today follows in the footsteps of gold miners from the time of New Zealand’s gold rush in the 1860s. Remnants of this time can still be seen along the mountain ranges giving you an idea of what life was like for the men and women who came here seeking their fortunes. The terrain opens out today so experienced riders will get the opportunity to do some faster riding. The majestic Old Man peak rises up before you as you arrive at the ‘Fat Mans Hut’ where you stay overnight. The original building is over 100 years old and has been used by Musters to tend their sheep. After dinner enjoy the most breath-taking display of stars. You have the option of sleeping in the cabin or in individual tents tonight.
After a cooked breakfast you pack up the saddle bags and start out on the mountain track which leads up Old Man Peak. This is the highest stock pass in New Zealand at just under 6,000ft above sea level and has spectacular views. On a clear day you can see Dunstan and Pukaki lakes as well as all four of the tallest peaks on South Island; Aorangi, Mount Aspiring, Mount St. Bathan’s and Mount Tutoko. On the descent you look across to the Southern Alps, with a great patchwork of land spread out before you. You will stop for lunch at Dunstan Downs cattle yard, 3,000ft up the slope still, beside the Alpine Lindis pass. The packhorses are ready and waiting to join you through the mountain passes in Dalrachney Station. Here you will ride along the river filled with wild lupin’s and roses (depending on the season), a unique feature of the McKenzie and Lindis passes. Once beyond the river you begin the ascent of the steepest part of the trail, showcasing the specially-bred qualities of your horses who are perfectly adapted to this terrain. Your accommodation for the evening, Lindis Ridge hut, is set high on the edge of the Southern Alps at 5,000ft looking over the country now famous from the ‘Lord of the Rings’ films.
The morning is a bit more relaxed today to give you time to admire the incredible mountain scenery around Lindis Ridge hut. With lunches packed you will descend into the head of the Lindis basin, meeting up with the support vehicle in the afternoon. Tents are set up for tonight and there is plenty of time to rest and prepare for the intense day of riding. For those who enjoy walking and who are interested in Alpine plant life this is a great time to do some exploring on foot.
Today is often quoted as being the best day of riding, traversing the most impressive mountains in New Zealand on your trusty steed. After breakfast the packs are loaded and you head deeper into the mountains. You will follow old pack trails around Mount Prospect, over shingle slides and through snow-fed creeks. If you keep your eyes peeled you might spot some Chamois and Himalayan Tahr scrambling up the mountain sides. After crossing two mountain ridges, you then descend into a native beech forest in Timaru Creek, where you stop for lunch. The ride continues alongside the creek in the shadow of the high rock formations you have just conquered. The trail takes you over the Mount Martha saddle, part of the ‘Te Areroa’ trail. At the end of this incredible day’s riding you arrive at Longslip Station where you will camp overnight. There is a crystal-clear mountain stream where you can have a swim, or if you prefer a hot shower these are available in the camp trailer. Enjoy a traditional Kiwi barbeque before settling down to sleep under the stars.
Your last day on horseback takes you out towards the Ahuriri River as you ride by a safari park full of Red, Fallow and Wapiti deer. The terrain is more accommodating here so you can get some trots and canters in between the stream crossings. You will see plenty of Merino sheep in this area, whose wool has made New Zealand famous in the textile world. You will be able to enjoy impressive views of the Ahuriri conservation park on your way to the historic Ribbonwood woolshed. The last section of the ride follows a mountain stream until you reach the woolshed, and the end of the trail. The horses are boxed up and taken to a nearby paddock for dinner and a well-deserved break. You are likewise driven to a comfortable hotel for the evening. You can enjoy the Omarama hot tubs or a massage (not included) to relax your aching muscles before a final group dinner.
After breakfast you will be picked up at 10am and transferred back to Queenstown Airport or your accommodation.
Please note: All itineraries are given for your guidance only and it may be altered on the ground and in accordance with the prevailing conditions by the organising team.
The horses are typical hardy New Zealand hacks bred by the hosts, all of a solid build ranging from 15.1hh to 17hh. They are forward moving, calm, sensible, gentle and yet able to dig in and get the job done on terrain that climbs to 6,000 feet above sea.There are a number of Clydesdale crosses which can accommodate heavier riders, please check for availability of these if you exceed the weight limit but are interested in this ride. Saddles are comfy stock and western saddles and all the tack is well kept and suited to the horses.
The terrain is varied and can be steep in places, and the trails may cross rivers, but the horses are all honest, calm and sure-footed. They are comfortable going high into the mountains and through glacial fed rivers and streams. This ride involves trotting and cantering at times and riders should be comfortable doing this through both open areas and vegetation.
Riders should have experience at walk, trot and canter in open spaces and a good general level of fitness. Horses are selected for each rider based on experience level as well as height/weight. The minimum age for this ride is 12 years, children must be good riders and accompanied by an adult.
The weight limit for this ride is 220 lb/100 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
On this trail you will spend 1 night in a renovated historical cottage, 4 nights in basic cabins or camping, and 1 night in a hotel.
Historical cottage: In St Bathans the traditional mud brick cottages have been tastefully restored to provide comfortable accommodation. Rooms are shared between 2 or 3 people with a shared bathroom, and there is a dinning/social area where you can relax in the evening.
Basic cabins: These huts have long-drop toilets and water will be provided for washing. There is solar power lighting and a limited water supply to have hot camp showers at the Boundary Hut. Beds are dormitory style in one room, or there is the option to have a 1/2 person tent.
Hotel: The final night of the tour is spent at a local hotel in double or twin rooms with all modern amenities including hot showers, flushing toilets, electricity, Wi-Fi and TVs. There are common areas available to relax in including a bar.
Food on the trail will be locally sourced as much as possible, adding to the authentic feel of the trek. Meals will generally be rustic and hearty farm fare. On the last night dinner will be in a local restaurant from (alcohol not included). At breakfast there are cereals, toast and preserves as well as a cooked breakfast (bacon, eggs, sausages), tea and coffee. Lunches are pack-ups of sandwiches/wraps, fresh fruit, home baked slices, sweets and nuts. Dinners are designed to enhance the visit through each high country station with Angus beef, roast merino lamb, high country salmon, Mount Harris venison. Puddings also include the fruits from central Otago. There is a complimentary glass of wine with dinner, additional drinks can be purchased before the trail and will be carried to each overnight location for you.
Please enquire if you have any dietary requirements: every effort will be made to accommodate dietary needs but please note that all the food is carried in pack boxes and the isolated location of the trails can make it difficult to source certain items.
Vegetarian or other dietary requirements can be accommodated with advanced notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests.
Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation in place for your trip. If Visa’s are required the requirements can change from year to year depending on diplomatic relations. Please request information from the appropriate Consulate in your home country. Unicorn Trails will assist with any questions you have or supply any necessary supporting documents as required by the consulate on request.
Visa requirements are not currently necessary for the U.K., other Europeanor USA nationals. But do check before travelling. In the UK the British Foreign Office gives travel advice on travel insurance, passport and visas. They can be reached on 0207 008 0232/0233 or at www.fco.gov.uk
The British Consulate in Auckland can be contacted on .Tel +64 9 3032 973 email: postmaster.Auckland@fco.gov.uk.
The New Zealand High Commission in the U.K can be found at New Zealand House, 80 The Haymarket, London, SW1Y 4TQ. Tel (020) 7930 8422. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The seasons are sharply defined: summers are hot and low in humidity; winter mornings are often misty, the days cloudless and windless and the nights freezing. Spring warms the soil and fruit tree blossom dominates the district’s orchard areas. Temperatures range from minus 3 to 20 deg C, with 10 frosts a month. Average rainfall is 28mm a month and sunshine 206 hours.
In summer, daylight lasts as long as 10pm. Temperatures range from 10 to plus 30 deg C on several days. Rainfall averages 38mm a month and sunshine is 227 hours. Autumn is brilliant as the extensive orchards and poplar shelterbelts turn red, yellow and gold. Temperatures range from minus 3 to 24 deg C. Rainfall averages 30mm a month with 11 frosts monthly and 150 hours of sunshine.
There are no specific health requirements in place for visitors to New Zealand. Ask your GP for advice before travelling.
For up to date information on specific health concerns please contact the Medical Advisors For Travellers Abroad. Their website can be found at www.masta.org. You can also check the Department of Healths website at www.dh.gov.uk.
There are no specific health warnings for this ride. Insect repellent is a good idea though!
Voltage is 240V, 50 Hz as in EUrope and most appliances such as battery chargers for videos, hair dryers etc. can be plugged in with appropriate adapters. These are available for purchase at most airports and travel shops.
There are opportunities to charge phones and cameras at some, but not all, accommodations along the trail. Spare batteries and/or a powerbank are a good idea. There is only Wi-Fi in the hotel on the last night.
We recommend you bring the following equipment (in a soft travel bag, please avoid hard suitcases):
Paddock boots or hiking boots with half-chaps or full-chaps
Riding hat or helmet STRONGLY ADVISED
Shirts or t-shirts
Pullover, fleece sweaters or fleece jacket
Warm coat and windbreaker
Comfortable trousers for evenings
Warm woollen/ merino clothing/ Thermal underwear (including long Johns)
Comfortable light-weight shoes for evenings
Hat or cap
Warm Hat/gloves/warm socks/ scarf
Personal toilet bag
High protection sun screen and lipstick
Tissue/toilet paper and wipes
Soap and shampoo (biodegradable if possible)
Antibacterial product for hands
Sleeping bag suited to mountain conditions
Sleeping bag liner
Hot water bottle if you feel the cold at night
Camera + batteries + powerbank
Electric adaptor if needed
Panadol or equiv. (if you think you will require this)
Chocolate (or other sweeties you can’t resist)
This is a 7 day/6 night programme with 6 days riding available on set dates.
2020: 4 Feb; 28 Apr; 22 Nov
2021: 15 Mar
Single rooms are not available every night so guests need to be willing to share. Single tents are available at no additional cost. Single rooms in hotels may be arranged subject to availability, please enquire.
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Kiwi Tracks: New Zealand Journey by Andrew Stevenson
Red, Fallow and Wapiti deer, Merino sheep, Chamois (an agile goat/ antelope with short hooked horns) and Himalayan Tahr (is associated with wild goats from the Himalayas in southern Tibet)
New Zealand is a fertile and mountainous group of islands in the south-west Pacific Ocean. It is made up of two main islands (the North Island and South Island) and a number of smaller islands.
New Zealand's first settlers were the Maori, whose Polynesian ancestors probably landed on what they called Aotearoa ('Land of the Long White cloud') during the 10th century AD, making New Zealand the last major habitable land mass to be settled by mankind. European settlers first came across New Zealand in 1642 when the Dutch explorer, Abel Tasman, spotted it in the course of his search for Antarctica. He named the South Island 'Nieuw Zeeland' after the Dutch province. James Cook sighted the North Island in 1769 and returned with various charting and scientific expeditions a number of times over the next few years. His enthusiastic reports encouraged a wave of European settlers who came across from Australia, and whalers who came from the UK, the USA and France. They gradually displaced Maori from their lands.
New Zealand is a country of rare seismic beauty: glacial mountains, fast-flowing rivers, deep, clear lakes, hissing geysers and boiling mud. There are also abundant native forests and long, deserted beaches. Because of its isolated geographical location, New Zealand is home to many unique species of flora and fauna, including the kiwi, kakapo and weka (all flightless birds).
New Zealand is twelve hours ahead GMT and they use the metric weights and measures system, so kilometres and kilograms instead of miles and pounds. There is approximately 1.6 kilometres in a mile and 2.2 pounds in a kilogram.
The international dialling code is +64.