I love horses. They are beautiful creatures, fun to ride and they can take you places much faster and easier than you would be able to get to while hiking. To get a different feel for the Glenorchy area, we chose a 2 ½ hour horseback tour that would take us over rivers and streams that were privately owned along the Rees River. Rees Valley Station is a 37,000-acre sheep station that borders the World Heritage Mt Aspiring National Park, where many of New Zealand’s famous walking tracks depart. The stable people can go onto private lands but have to pay a toll and clear it with the owner first. The owners do not want you to mess with their herds of sheep and cows!
I also think deer are beautiful creatures and one greeted us as we walked around the parking area at the stables. A red deer the owner found as a fawn, he was penned in with a pig. They must have felt that I either looked like food or had good food because as I approached the fence they came running! Now, how often do a deer and pig run to greet you, both at once?
We were able to go into the fenced area and feed them apples and they were quite accommodating. The deer let you pet her and she had coarse fur that was a pretty brown. The pig acted, well, like a pig and tried to get the apples. Funny since the pig’s head is a foot off the ground and the deer is almost 6 feet tall at the ears. The pig was not deterred though and ate the scraps that the deer dropped on the ground.
The fence all around where the deer and pig roam had signs declaring a high voltage electric fence but Shawn did not see them and zapped his chin on one. Ouch! He said it felt like someone had punched him and he had no idea what happened. He was reaching to help a lady open the gate and he bent down to do the latch and hit the wire with his chin. Note to self-read the warning signs.
The horses were the usual nose-to-tail group but they were sedate and did not want to move all that fast. There were six of us in the group, from the southern US, the UK, and New Zealand. As we walked through the woods, there was a straight stretch where we could trot if we wanted to. Well, just because YOU wanted to did not mean the horses wanted to, so it was a bit of a muddle with a few moments of a slow pickup. Not much of a trot, but hey…we tried.
Next, we came upon a river bed with pretty deep water. We forded the river in a few places where it was chest high to the horse. We were told to just bend our legs back and we would be dry and it worked. They made us wear Wellies/rain boots and our feet flopped around in them making the ride uncomfortable, but we were prepared.
After crossing the river and meandering around along a creek, we came across another seemingly open field of rocks, i.e. another river. The water is low this time of year allowing you to go walking all around the rivers. At this spot, our guide, Sean, told us this is where they filmed the view of Isengard in the distance. With all the many places to film in New Zealand, it is amazing how they manage to create a scene with all the necessary additions to create Middle Earth. We can tell it is Isengard by the shape, but the surrounding area looks nothing like it.
Our guide, Sean, was very chatty during the trip giving us information on the surrounding area. One thing that stuck with us was the cost of a good sheep-herding dog. We saw dogs that were not Australian Shepherds or Border Collies when we were driving around, but what looked like mutts. He told us a good herding dog can cost upwards of $15,000 and do the work of three or four dogs. Wow. I can see why some of the farmers had 4 or 5 mutts around instead of one expensive dog.
The ride back was uneventful and the sun was setting quickly. We returned to the stables and we gave our horses over to the trusty stable hands and crawled off our horses. Wow. The ground was a lot farther away than I had anticipated and I almost fell on my bum. We creaked and walked wide-legged to the car, vowing that this is our last horse ride. But, I still like horses and hope to be around them again.