Four beats to freedom - a horseback journey through New Zealand

Mary's New Zealand Diary   -  18 February

So much for more regular updates! The people-factor has struck in and, whilst I now have more regular access to power and phone lines, I have more people to talk with, and more ‘engagements’. It’s all rather exhausting and the wide spaces of the high country seem a distant and idyllic dream. The landscape has seemed a bit tame after the joys of the South Island, and I have been lacking in photographic inspiration added to which, continuing the saga of non-operational technology, I have lost the adaptor for my video camera, so there are some pictures I am unable to put up at present… wish I’d taken a brownie 127… 

Wellington was sure to be a culture shock but thanks to ACE CAR RENTALS I was mobile. I was able to meet with Angus from BUSBY RAMSHAW GRICE who are handling some PR for us, and to spend an afternoon remembering why I am not a city person! It was a busy – nay, frantic – week on admin issues – all my fond ideas of forward planning and catching up with my diary went askance. 
The boys stayed in the paddocks at Upper Hutt RDA, which are beautifully kept by Graham, and they pronounced themselves very happy with the service!


On the Thursday we set out from Petone, at the end of the Hutt River Trail (as close to the ‘bottom’ of the island as we could safely go in Wellington), accompanied initially by the Mayor of Lower Hutt who bravely accepted the challenge of riding Foggy for the first 100 yards. His place was taken by Sue Chalmers from THE HILLARY COMMISSION who give significant funding to NZRDA, and then by Anita, who rides weekly and attends the special unit in the school at Petone.

We crossed the Hutt river beneath the Kennedy Goode bridge – the horses have that picture on their page – and then met up with the WHAT NOW? team who filmed us briefly and then filmed Hana, who rides regularly with RDA . (What Now? Is a children’s tv programme a little like blue peter – just whackier!) They will show this as a feature, hopefully on 24 February.

On Saturday 2nd February we set forth from RDA at Silverstream, accompanied by quite a number of riders including Trish (whose portrait appears below), Graham and Hana.


We were seen off in style by Wayne Guppy, Mayor of Upper Hutt, Paul Swayne, MP for Upper Hutt, and Norm Hewitt, Rugby player extraordinaire. Boris was particularly impressed by ‘big norm’ , with whom he thought he shared certain physical characteristics… and off we went beside the river…

From Wellington we crossed the Rimutakas, going through one spectacular old railway tunnel – I was very proud of the boys who followed me into the dark very bravely , with only one momentary loss of confidence in the blackness in the middle. We had company on the ‘pylon track’ to avoid the horrors of the main road, and enjoyed some lovely native bush before coming down to Fetherstone. I had been told that the track would be a demanding one for the horses but they cruised it, reaching the bottom and saying ‘well where’s the next hill?’ – after the south island it had little to tax them, despite their 2 week holiday. In Carterton, I regretfully decided that the thoroflex shoes were not going to suit our needs and was lucky to stay with a wonderful farrier, Tony Beuzekom, who removed and replaced them with his own shoes made from tempered steel.

We had RDA engagements in Masterton, though sadly no event in which riders were able to join us and there was no opportunity for fund raising. 

Wanting to experience something of the Wairarapa, I struck out for Bideford and had a lovely days ride over Waimapu station to Alfredton, where we camped in the Domain and were totally soaked! The rain continued all day as we went over to Pahiatua – the planned pony club sponsored ride had to be called off to avoid widespread pneumonia. We more than made up for this the following day when we paraded through the middle of the town, accompanied Kallista Field (New Zealand’s Olympic Dressage star) and Kevin, rider rep for the the Pahiatua group, taking donations on the street. In the afternoon, riders joined me to ride along a quiet road to the RDA grounds – it was a great opportunity for them to ride out of the arena, look over fences and down on the river. In total the day raised over $800 – a great achievement!

From Pahiatua we came over the Tararuas with Cameron Horne from TIMELESS HORSE TREKS, pitching tents on the top in the dark and riding down to Ashhurst the following day under the Tararua windfarm – the biggest windfarm in the Southern Hemisphere which you can just about glimpse in this picture.

And thus to Fielding, where we are camped up on the racecourse next to the meatworks. Manawatu RDA aims to raise $210 000 to put a roof over their arena which will allow riding to continue all year round. Foggy was invited to star with Sir Howard Morrison at a Rotarian picnic concert in the park on Sunday evening. Singer and comedian, Sir Howard is an icon of entertainment in New Zealand, and to have his involvement in the ride is a real bonus. He has great ‘mana’ – that is to say he commands enormous respect, and about eleven years ago rode through the country himself , fund raising for ‘Education for Life’ which helps youngsters coming off drugs. Thanks to him, my hat was passed round at the interval and returned with over $1000 in it!!! Thank you, citizens of Fielding ! 
(Foggy has a rather cool picture on his page too…)
We go on along the coast to Wanganui and thence to Hawera where we have engagements on 27 February…





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