Orepuki Horse Treks was my next stop after our grand adventure through the South. I would be staying there for three weeks to work and play with ponies while Luca made his way up to Kinloch Lodge to work. No worries; it was a break well earned. We were excited to part ways and have our separate adventures for a short time, as we needed something to talk about again.
I knew that Orepuki would be a positive experience as soon as we arrived in the area. While driving to the farm, we had the most amazing sunset with sharp lighting and bright colors. I drove with my mouth wide open looking at the continuous hills of green-green grass, rugged ocean with sandy cliffs, mountains in the distance, and white sheep spotting the landscape. It was the New Zealand that I imaged in my dreams before ever arriving.
Orepuki Horse Treks was just a hobby of Elfi. Or more like a little side business to support her very large hobby. She moved to New Zealand from Germany and lived with her husband, Andrew, and their two kids, India and Cooper, on their family’s sheep farm.
Elfi is one of the kindest people I have ever known. I actually don’t believe that there is one bad bone in her body. I couldn’t believe it when she told me that we would be trying out a three day horse trek about a week after I arrived. The high tourism season was just ending and it was the perfect time to try out the ride. What perfect timing for me?
The three-day trek would go from Orepuki to Invercargill along the Southern Coast of New Zealand, a total of 75 kilometers through open sandy beaches, luscious bush, and green farmlands. It was a trial run, as Elfi hoped to offer it to her clients in the future if it all worked out. My noble steed was Dodge and he was a Shire-breed horse. I wasn’t sure if he would be too small for me…
After a week of careful planning and preparation, we started our ride early in the morning to make sure we caught the tides at the right time. The weather was as perfect as it could be, with clear skies and warm temperatures. Again, perfect timing! New Zealand weather in the fall is very unpredictable, especially so far down on the South Island.
There were a total of five riders: Elfi, Nathalie, Ella, Anna, and myself. Elfi, Nathalie, and Ella were all New Zealand locals and Anna was our guest from Germany.
The first beach we rode on was Gemstone beach, which was majestic with the morning pastel colors. It was a lovely ride with great horses and happy people!
It took a little bit of time to adjust to Dodge, as my legs were not used to stretching around such a wide barrel. But once I got settled in, I quickly fell in love with him. His gaits were as smooth as can be and he was educated on the aids. The view so far up was not bad either.
After our first beach stretch, we walked along green farmland for an hour or so, and then continued onto our next beach.
The rest of our ride after our lunch break consisted of us riding through the surf, cantering on the beach, and just having an all-around fun time.
Our first evening was spent at an adorable little family holiday Bach at Colac Bay. The horses were happy to have a full field of grass after their long ride.
That afternoon we played a few rounds of Cluedo and enjoyed some time away from electronics and any other form of modern entertainment. We had delicious Mexican Lasagna that Nathalie made for dinner. In the evening we had a bonfire under a full sky of stars. It was the perfect way to end a perfect day.
The next morning we woke up to another day of beautiful weather. Lucky! Lucky!
Once you are a horse rider you can never again look at a fallen tree without thinking, “That would make a nice jump,” or a luscious, grassy golf course without thinking, “What a waste. That would be the perfect footing for a cross country course.” So, all of you horse riders, please look at this beach and try to tell me you don’t see the “perfect gallop…”
Because we galloped down this beach and it was one of the most picture-perfect and glorious horse experiences I have ever had in my life! Imagine: A naturally made, long, flat arena with perfect footing. You are having a long gallop in that “arena” while breathing in the fresh sea breeze, listening to the sound of the ocean, and enjoying the sunshine on your face. Your giant Shire horse feels like a couch under you. Is he even moving? Or am I in a rocking chair? But somehow I’m still going so fast…
Basically, my cheeks hurt from smiling so much when we were done with our morning gallop.
After our beach gallop, we rode through some really interesting forest. It is amazing how the coastal wind warps and shapes the trees.
My favorite view of the whole ride was at the top of a hill overlooking Riverton. It was lovely to see the never-ending fields of grass and the blue ocean. After making our way down the hill we had to ride along the rode for a couple of kilometers to get to Riverton. Unfortunately, we all had higher expectations of drivers and how they would react to horses on the road. It is amazing how rude and ignorant people are! If you aren’t aware of road etiquette already, it is proper to slow down and try to move to the side if you see a horse walking along the side of the road. If you can’t pass safely, than you wait behind the horse until you have the opportunity to pass. The rules are the same when there is a bicycle rider on the road, but exaggerated because a horse can get very scared and run out in front of your car. Please pass that message on because people are apparently not aware of the rules!
That evening we stayed with the horses at the Riverton Holiday Park and celebrated Elfi’s birthday at a nice pub in town. The next morning we woke up and heard raindrops outside. We waited for awhile inside, nursing our coffee and eating two or three breakfasts, while waiting for the rain to pass. Eventually we made up our mind to just go and finish our last stretch to Invercargill even though it was still raining. We figured that we could get warm and dry in the car on the way home after we were finished. So, we saddled up, put our warmest clothes on, and headed out. It rained for about another half hour or so and then cleared up, luckily! We had a long stretch of beach ahead of us, so we cantered and trotted a lot of the time to stay warm. The sun started to peak through the clouds, creating all sorts of colors in the sky. It was definitely an epic sight worth getting a little wet for!
Overall, the trek was an experience of a lifetime for me. I can’t be more thankful to Elfi for giving me such an incredible opportunity. Riding on a beach has always been a dream of mine since I was a child. And to ride on such amazing beaches in New Zealand with great company and a lovely horse made for such a fond memory! I look forward to hearing how the ride develops in the future and seeing pictures of people enjoying it just as much as I did.