South Island Explorer Trail

8 Daysย  |ย  From ยฃ1460pp

New Zealand ( Best airport: Christchurch)

Get completely off-grid and spend a week exploring the iconic high country stations of the South Island in deepest New Zealand. Stay in basic shearers huts or tents and gain an insight of how life works on these remote sheep and cattle stations. This is an adventurous participatory ride and you will be involved in the daily work of looking after the horses and setting up camp on the trip.

The Riding

The terrain on this ride can be very challenging. As well as long (and potentially deep) river crossings, there are steep ascents and descents. The horses are used to this terrain and it is up to the rider to trust their mount and let them find their way. The pace of the ride is taken at a walk due to the rough terrain and the pack horses which accompany the ride, carrying all the food and equipment so all levels of rider can be accommodated.

You will need to be able to dismount and lead your horse on the downhills which can sometimes be for up to one hour. Each day you will be in the saddle for between 4-7 hours with one day slightly longer than this, therefore a good level of general fitness is required. Please note there is no mobile phone coverage during the ride but the guides carry a satellite phone.

Level of Riding and Fitness

This ride is suitable for any level of rider although due to the terrain it is not suitable for nervous riders nor for those who suffer from vertigo. You will be spending long hours in the saddle and so it is important to be physically fit and able to mount and dismount unaided. Hard hats are mandatory on this ride.

This is an adventurous, participatory ride and you will be involved in the daily work on the trip. If you are an experienced rider you will help in the mornings getting the horses ready and may also be asked to help with the free running packhorses and loose horses. That might mean leading and keeping them in order when needed. If you are not an experienced rider, there are plenty of other jobs to do such as helping in the kitchen, doing dishes and cleaning the huts in the morning before you leave. The weight limit is 120kg.

Guides and Group Size

You will be guided by Lawrie, who together with his wife, Jenny has been guiding trips in the region for almost 30 years.. Lawrieโ€™s in-depth knowledge and experience of the area is invaluable on these safaris and Jennyโ€™s wonderful cooking will keep you full of energy at all times. Together they have over 80 years of experience of breaking, riding, training and packing horses. Their unequalled knowledge of the area and understanding of horses means they are able to offer some of the most adventurous riding in New Zealand.

The Horses

There are 40 horses available for riding at this destination. Both the riding horses and pack horses are a delightful mix of Clydesdale X Thoroughbred, they are sure-footed having been bred in the hills and are very comfortable to ride. The horses range between 16hh and 18hh and the tack used on this ride is Australian stock saddles and single-rein bridles. The riding is English style.

South Island Explorer Trail

Accommodation and Dining

This is an adventurous trail and the accommodation when on the ride is basic. You could be staying in a tent, woolshed, shepherds hut or conservation hut. For most of the nights on the trail there are no showers or electricity but there will usually be a stream or river nearby to wash in. Youโ€™ll need to bring your own warm sleeping bag and will be provided with an airbed. Some of the accommodation does have bunkbeds. Single accommodation is not possible at this destination.

The food on this ride is all cooked from scratch using local ingredients by your host. Expect hearty farm food – it is intended to fill riders up and give them energy. Meals could be steak, mince or stroganoff. Tea, coffee and water are included, alcohol and canned drinks are not included, nor provided, but riders are invited to bring along their own supply with them. This can be pre-ordered in advance before travel commences and will be waiting for the rider upon arrival. Gluten-free, dairy-free and vegetarian diets can also be catered for with advance notice.

Get a free South Island Explorer Trail mini-brochure in PDF format.


South Island Explorer Trail

8 days / 7 nights / 6 days riding

Flights & Airport transfers

Do not book flights until you have received the Booking confirmation email from

Please plan your flights to/from as follows:

Please book your flight to arrive in Christchurch between 12-2pm if possible. We recommend arriving earlier or the day before if coming from overseas.
For your departure flight please book to leave after midday

Price Includes
  • Full board accommodation with coffee and tea
  • 6 days of riding
  • Breakfasts
  • Lunches
  • Dinners
  • Coffee and tea
Price Excludes
  • International flights
  • Airport transfers
  • Alcoholic and canned drinks

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