In October 2019 we embarked on our most daring adventure yet: Taming 3 wild Kaimanawa stallions and traversing the length of New Zealand.

Our Journey So Far

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Days on the Trail
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Nights in tent

Our Mission

In October 2019, we will be traversing the length of New Zealand on horseback, accompanied and guided by our team of recently-tamed, wild Kaimanawa horses. Starting at the Bluff, we will ride through both islands to conclude our journey in Cape Reinga, taking an estimated eight months to complete. 

Through this ride, we aspire to both share and protect New Zealand’s wild spaces, whilst connecting people through nature and inspiring others to embrace a rewilding journey of their own.

In conjunction with our journey, we are also developing our humanandhorse.co.nz platform to connect New Zealand’s equestrian community and develop the equine industry in NZ. Throughout our journey, we will be documenting and advocating for horse-friendly trails / routes throughout the country as well as providing a platform to access information to riders looking to get out and explore. 

 

 

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity”


– John Muir

Follow our Journey

Our story begins four years ago, amongst the snowgum-covered hills of the Australian High Country, retracing the hoofprints of the iconic “Man from Snowy River” movies on horseback. Although we come from very different backgrounds – Jess in forensic anthropology and Bijmin in digital media, our love for horses and exploring the untamed spaces on earth found us both abandoning the conventional 9-5 rat race in search of a more authentic and fulfilling lifestyle. It was during our time here at Watsons Trail Rides that our separate journeys intertwined and a passion for sharing the wild places around us was ignited. Since then we’ve been travelling the world, finding magical places that help us connect both with nature and with ourselves, alongside the best teachers we’ve ever come across: Horses.

Our journey has taken us through the most remote wilderness area in the lower 48 states, guiding 6 day unsupported pack-trips with Yellowstone WIlderness Outfitters alongside the bison, bears and wolves that call these woods and open plains their home. It has taken us to the Tapapa cliffs and rolling green hills of New Zealand’s North Island with River Valley Stables – teaching others how to connect with horses, and themselves, through natural horsemanship. Finally, our journey has taken us to the rugged alpine, glacially-carved valleys of New Zealand’s South Island, swimming horses in crystal clear glacial fed pools and exploring ancient native beech forests with a focus on sharing the transformative power of being immersed in nature with everyone who has joined us for this spectacular 5 day ride with High Country Horses.

Each experience has taught us a unique way to interact with and appreciate the treasures of the natural world and how important it is to share and protect those spaces for future generations. 

Our Story

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Looking for a dream job in horse heaven alongside a great team? ... See MoreSee Less

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Sounds like a great opportunity 👍

That sounds amazing 😊 one day!

Kate Shirran

Our little tribe cooling down after some springtime sunshine 🙂 ... See MoreSee Less

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What fun! I got to swim on my horse this summer, Nothing like it. That looks like a great spot.

They're looking really good, great condition and tone on them.

So much fun for everyone. Ponies and humans ❤️🐴

This is the most beautiful spot for a horse dip <3

That’s beautiful

So awesome ❤

Oh this is just so so beautiful. Makes my soul happy.

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A few weeks ago Jess and I had an amazing birthday weekend away, (thank you for the awesome gift mum!!) exploring waterfalls, forests and beaches, foraging for shellfish and relaxing in a super cute house truck on a hill overlooking the ocean.

Golden Bay just has so much beauty around every corner and on our weekly adventures the sheer bounty of beauty on offer in our little paradise becomes more and more apparent.

We're so excited to be able to call this area home and just as excited about what's around the next corner.
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A few weeks ago Jess and I had an amazing birthday weekend away, (thank you for the awesome gift mum!!) exploring waterfalls, forests and beaches, foraging for shellfish and relaxing in a super cute house truck on a hill overlooking the ocean.  Golden Bay just has so much beauty around every corner and on our weekly adventures the sheer bounty of beauty on offer in our little paradise becomes more and more apparent.  Were so excited to be able to call this area home and just as excited about whats around the next corner.

Comment on Facebook

It's such a neat place. Have you explored the coast past farewell spit yet? It's really neat out there. Also do you guys know Marie Tate? She's over the hill in Kaiteriteri and I reckon you guys would get on like a house on fire. She rode the west coast of the South Island a few years back

Wow! Simply stunning! Happy Birthday weekend indeed!!💕

What a wonderfull gift. Such a beautifull spot . Your photos are amazing.

We are on our way! Love you two lovebirds!

Love these photos 👍

Brilliant photos

Great pics, as usual 😊

Happy birthday!!!

Stunning you two ❤️

Looks amazing 😍

I lived up the valley for a couple of years, LOVE Takaka, Golden Bay. It hadn't really been discovered back then. Your life look s just lovely >)

Wow!

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With the change in seasons and the days drawing longer, the whisper of adventure and the promise of exploration is in the air.

It has taken us a bit of getting used to: the idea of not moving to start another season of guiding or leaving for life on the trail. This will be the first time in 6 years that the change in season hasn't marked the start of some epic grand adventure in the back country.

But what we're learning is that its not the adventures themselves that are epic, but rather leading a life that fills you to the brim. Every day, whereever you are, there are countless opportunities to get out and explore - To try something new, to experience something that makes you pause and think "f**k life is good".
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With the change in seasons and the days drawing longer, the whisper of adventure and the promise of exploration is in the air.  It has taken us a bit of getting used to: the idea of not moving to start another season of guiding or leaving for life on the trail. This will be the first time in 6 years that the change in season hasnt marked the start of some epic grand adventure in the back country.  But what were learning is that its not the adventures themselves that are epic, but rather leading a life that fills you to the brim. Every day, whereever you are, there are countless opportunities to get out and explore - To try something new, to experience something that makes you pause and think f**k life is good.

Comment on Facebook

Amazing photos, that place looks magical

That's the mark of a life well lived. To find amazement, contentment and peace in any and all circumstances. Lucky if circumstances are awesome like yours, more challenging for many under different circumstances. But as you say, in all spaces, to find something that makes you pause and think "F**k life is good". Absolutely stunning photos. Those colours!!!!!!

Love to both of you. Just love seeing your photos and following your adventures

So true! And great pictures too

That scenery is epic!

Amen to that

🙌

Stunning photos

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If there was one feeling I could bottle and share with the world, it would be the gratitude, immersion in the moment and sheer exhilaration that comes from swimming with horses.

I've tried for the last 10 minutes to try and find the words to describe just how magic these experiences are but it just doesn't come close. Instead ill let these photographs of both Human & Horse enjoying our backyard swimming hole do the story telling for us.

Soul feels full to the brim and overflowing with grattitude for the blessings of life and being fortunate enough to truly live it 🙂
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If there was one feeling I could bottle and share with the world, it would be the gratitude, immersion in the moment and sheer exhilaration that comes from swimming with horses.  Ive tried for the last 10 minutes to try and find the words to describe just how magic these experiences are but it just doesnt come close. Instead ill let these photographs of both Human & Horse enjoying our backyard swimming hole do the story telling for us.  Soul feels full to the brim and overflowing with grattitude for the blessings of life and being fortunate enough to truly live it :)

Comment on Facebook

Love this. And love your wild ones. I got mine last week and am finding out a lot of things about myself. Humbling and magical. Up and down. Love this moment and so glad you guys captured it❤️

I swam with my wee pony when I was young and wild..... yes, it's truly magical and exhilarating to share the moment. You're so lucky to live the dream, and I really appreciate your fabulous pictures. Thanks. X

Its like natural communion with your horse and nature I reckon.

It's so magical. I miss being in New Zealand. You are so lucky to have such a beautiful connection with your horses. I love seeing your adventures.

The photos look amazing. I guess your boys enjoy the swim as much as you

What a beautiful place to swim with them 😁

Wow Jess what a magical spot! And yes .... it is a glorious feeling!! 💓

Ah I couldn’t agree more! swimming with horses is magical 😊

It really is one of life's great pleasures ❤🐎

Absolutely stunning pics and brings back fond memories doing the same as a child in Nz

What a gorgeous spot you've landed in 😍

Beautiful pictures! Stunning scenery.

Soooo beautiful Where R u guys now..?

Where are you guys. Looks stunning

Sometimes there are No Words 🥰

Do you need anyone to help you 🤗

Fabulous photos! One of my absolute favorite things to do! Still waiting for y’all to make your way up here. Got room for ppl and horses☺️

Beautiful <3

Great. Are you able to work in addition to caring for horses? If so what types mischief?

Pure heart filled joy ❤️ Stunning photos!

Lucky bastards! 😍♥️♥️

Beautiful!

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Our Horses

In April 2018 we adopted 3 wild Kaimanawa stallions from the annual KHH muster. From the moment Tokala, Madiba and Kaewa stepped off the truck our lives were forever changed.

Although our journey together is just beginning, theirs began a long time ago. These horses are born and raised free spirits of the Kaimanawa ranges; the rolling hills that gave them their name. They spend their days roaming the hills in natural herd groups, existing in harmony with the land around them. These wild animals embody what nature intended for the horse. Over years of survival, the hills have sculpted them into strong hardy animals, with coats to withstand the elements, hooves conditioned to the rough and rocky terrain, and a fiery soul that runs freely through their veins.

Click on any of the profiles below to find out more about each horse and updates with where they’re at. 

Adventure Journal

Madiba the kaimanawa horse
Madiba

Madiba

Madiba (Dibs) is the little joker of the group. This little horse has been one of our most challenging so far but loves cuddles.

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