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Canterbury Horse Treks, New Zealand


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NZ Freephone:

0800 425 746


+64 3 314 4293


Waitohi Downs
North Canterbury
New Zealand

Regional Information:

Qualmark endorsed activity

Copyright: Alpine Horse Safaris. Alpine Horse Safaris, Canterbury Horse Treks, Canterbury Horse Riding

Alpine Horse Safaris Introduction

Imagine spending your holiday on one of Alpine Horse Safaris' exhilarating Canterbury horse riding treks in the high country of New Zealand's South Island. Get dressed up in chaps and oilskins or shorts and sunnies, saddle your horse, load your swag and tuckerbox onto a pack horse and embark on the trip of a lifetime – horse riding in Canterbury.

Imagine watching a farrier at work, shoeing the horses in preparation for the ultimate Canterbury horse riding adventure ahead over craggy peaks and deep valleys. Climb into a comfortable stock saddle atop one of our strong Clydesdale or Thoroughbred horses, ride over high mountain passes on pack tracks made by early pioneers.

Imagine horse riding in Canterbury across rugged terrain listening to the wide variety of native birds. View the spectacular splendour of majestic snow-capped mountains towering high above bush covered slopes, vast river flats, crystal clear lakes and sparkling rivers gushing through sheer faced gorges on your Canterbury horse riding trek.

Imagine sitting around the camp fire, sipping wine and chatting about the day's adventures. Enjoy a hearty meal cooked over an open fire accompanied by billy-boiled tea, then lie back and gaze at the star filled sky after a exciting day of horse riding.

Don't just imagine it. Do it all with Alpine Horse Safaris' Canterbury horse riding treks!

Our Canterbury Horse Riding Treks

Alpine Horse Safaris A horse on an Alpine Horse Safari Riding on a horse trek in Canterbury Alpine Horse Safaris Canterbury Horse Treks, Canterbury Horse Riding

We can offer Canterbury horse riding treks which range from 2 hours to 12 days – the longest ride available in New Zealand – travel 300 kilometres in a loop around the North and 400 kilometres directly South of Waitohi Downs.

Our Canterbury horse riding treks cover diverse landscapes from high mountain passes with scree covered slopes to vast river flats to thick scrub and native beech forest.

On our Canterbury horse riding treks, we supply:

  • Horse, saddle, bridle, saddle bags, and associated harnesses required
  • All meals and accommodation on the trip (excluding alcohol)
  • Swag roll to carry your sleeping bag (can be hired) and clothes
  • Wet weather gear – full length oilskin rain coats and waterproof leggings (worn over trousers)
  • Our experience of guiding you on a ride of a lifetime

If you would like to experience a genuine sheep or cattle muster, and see how the horses and dogs are used at work, come and pay us a visit. Waitohi Downs is one of the few places in New Zealand where you can come and ride quality horses and be involved in part of a real working farm at the same time.

About Us and Our Horses

Here at Alpine Horse Safaris, Lawrie and Jenny have been breeding their own horses since they purchased their first stallion Turbo Charge in 1976, a 16.2 hands high half Clydesdale half Thoroughbred stallion.

From him, they discovered that the combination of the Clydesdale and Thoroughbred breeds was highly successful and decided to continue breeding their own horses as a mix of the two. These subsequent offspring have proved excellent for mustering and stock work on the farm, and also provide good mounts for guests on our Canterbury horse riding treks.

The horses on our Canterbury horse riding treks are bred and raised on the hill country, so are sure-footed in all terrain, and fast-walking from their Thoroughbred background. They carry more physical characteristics of a Clydesdale, with hairy legs and being strongly built, and are great for use as pack horses.

Other Friendly Farm Animals

Aside from the 35 riding and pack horses, Lawrie and Jenny have about ten breeding mares and two stallions from which they breed all of their own Clydesdale Thoroughbred Cross horses.

The foals are born from about late October each year; at present there are about 15 yearlings and two and three year olds, all waiting to be handled and broken in for use on the farm. Lastly the fawns arrive in November, making Waitohi Downs a real nursery during the spring and early summer.

The ewes are shorn in July, well before the lambing begins, and the hoggets (one year olds) a little later in August and September. The velvetting of the deer antlers also happens at this time of year, beginning in November through to December.

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The Canterbury Region

Source: Alpine Pacific Tourism. Frog Rock, Weka Pass, Canterbury, New Zealand
Limestone rocks called “Frog Rock”
Weka Pass, Canterbury, New Zealand
Source: Alpine Pacific Tourism
Christchurch Photographic Society

Step back into Maori, whaling, French and British history in Akaroa—Canterbury's oldest village. You can take a cruise on Lyttelton Harbour and enjoy the dramatic volcanic landscape. In summer you might even get the chance to swim with the world's rarest dolphin, the Hector Dolphin.

Two hours north of Christchurch is Kaikoura, where the mountains meet the sea—one of the few places where you can see the giant sperm whale.

To the northwest lies Hanmer Springs, a scenic alpine and thermal village. You can enjoy nature or adventure activities, or laze in the pools. Nearby, in the Hurunui District, you can enjoy the wineries of Waipara.

Inland from Christchurch lie the magnificent Southern Alps—only an hour from the city. The village of Arthur's Pass makes an ideal base for all kinds of activities, and you can also experience the TranzAlpine rail trip—one of the world's most spectacular train journeys that takes you from Christchurch to Greymouth.

South of Christchurch lies the Ashburton and Timaru districts. Ashburton District is home to all kinds of exciting activities like skiing, hot air ballooning and salmon fishing. Timaru district features many attractive towns, rolling green hills, lush pasture and braided rivers.

About New Zealand

New Zealand's spectacularly beautiful landscape includes vast mountain chains, steaming volcanoes, sweeping coastlines, deeply indented fiords, lush rainforests and amazing wildlife.

Comparable in size and/or shape to Great Britain, Colorado or Japan, New Zealand has a population of only 4.0 million—making it one of the world's least crowded countries.

New Zealand is a haven for those seeking peace, rejuvenation and relaxation as well as a playground for thrill seekers and adventurers. A temperate climate with relatively small seasonal variation makes it an ideal year-round holiday destination.

New Zealand society is diverse, sophisticated, and multicultural. The honesty, friendliness, and openness of Kiwis will impress you.

The great advantage of New Zealand travel is that all of its diverse physical, cultural, and artistic landscapes are so close to each other.

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Harry van Hoppe. Alpine Horse Safaris