High country station owners thanked by riders

Photos thanks to Hilary Robinson & Ted Ottrey

Horse trek through high country

Around 70 riders had an amazing adventure through three backcountry stations on a three-day horse trek organised by Central Otago Hunt.

The trek started at Mount Albert Station, Makarora, on Friday, February 2, headed up through the Wilkin Valley, around the back of Lake Wanaka to Minaret Station and ended at West Wanaka Station on Monday February 5.

The group covered over 100 kilometres on the three-day ride and were hosted by Scott and Rachel Patterson at Mt Albert Station, Annabel and Jonathan Wallis at Minaret Station and James and Janelle Cochrane at West Wanaka Station.

Organiser Ted Ottrey said their hosts were fantastic ambassadors for the high country stations.

“They welcomed us onto their properties and ensured we were safe while trekking across them. Best yet, they all came along with their families to talk to us about the history of the station and to give us a view of the life they live and difficulties they face while living in such a challenging environment. A highlight of this was Jonathan Wallis’ half-hour talk about the history of the Minaret Station,” he said.

Ted also said that everyone on the trek found something to challenge their riding ability.

“They all rode in very happy with what they had achieved, knowing the trust in their horse had grown and that horses can do some really amazing things while on tricky terrain.”

The organisers had pre-rode the trek a week before and were amazed at how quickly the lake and river levels could rise and fall over a short period of time.

“The first river crossing was very high, it wouldn’t want to have been any higher, we were lucky it had dropped. It’s amazing how much it dropped in six hours. On our pre-ride, the lake level at the crossing was only knee-deep. When we got there it was over a metre higher and quite challenging for the horses, but we got through safely. ”

Hilary Robinson who lives part-time in Wanaka and the UK, said it was an amazing experience.

“I’ve ridden all over the world, in Mexico, Argentina, Kenya, France, the UK and Botswana and in many challenging places and nothing compares with this. It was absolutely exhilarating. It was also terrifying at times, the river crossing was quite tricky, and then there was some quite technical climbs which were a bit scary.

“The sense of achievement to have done this was amazing. It was a very exciting ride with the most spectacular scenery. We were so fortunate that the station owners allowed us to cross their properties. It was a once in a lifetime experience,” she said.

Ted said, “We are very fortunate in Central Otago to have some spectacular country to ride in. The organisers would like to thank everyone involved, including riders for contributing to the success of the weekend.”

The organisers are looking forward to planning another trek at the same time next year after a well-earned breather.

Photos thanks to Hilary Robinson & Ted Ottrey

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