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
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.
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.