Four beats to freedom - a horseback journey through New Zealand

Mary's New Zealand Diary   - 
written 10 April

Good heavens, is it nearly 4 weeks since the last one. How embarrassing....
up the west coast... on and off the beach... up and down the tops... in and out of magic forest and over gleaming black sand. ... Have a look at the map to see where we have been...

Hottest and hardest
We came through Department of Conservation land behind Mount Messenger, along below Whitecliffs and then followed the line of the Natural Gas Pipeline towards Tongaporutu - very steep, very thick vegetation and a very hot day.

Between Mokau and Awakino we were on the beach so Foggy was able to pack as he prefers - loose, with the rope tied up . He showed a little private enterprise by pursuing some elderly ladies who he thought had tasty things in their handbags. They didn't recognise his expression as a benign one, and he doesn't understand the word shoo ... he was just puzzled when they stood on the top of a sand dune and biffed him with their handbags...

We were lucky to be invited to stay at Pioi station which meant we could cross the Awakino in the evening at low tide. Even so it was a bit deep - either that or Boris shrank!


North of Awakino are a series of big properties, well off the beaten track and we had some lovely riding above the cliffs, along the beach and through the most magical native bush. But I miscalculated the length of the journey rather seriously so that we came along the beach at Waikawau as the sun set, struggling in very soft sand by the river and finding our paddock in the dark... I was extremely grateful to Dot Maxwell who invited us to stay a day

Nukuhakari is one of the biggest North Isalnd stations - wide , open country sweeping down to a magnificent bay. A most beautiful bush track runs over the hills from Nukuhakari station towards Kiritehere. Well it would be beautiful . The rain came down in torrents and poured down the track which is only just wide enough for one horse. Thanks to my Oringi raincoat I remained dry but the centre of the path has been deeply washed out and eroded by previous downpours so we had to cling to a strip of mud on either side. It was like glass and seemed to go on for ever - the boys actually found it quite frightening and so did I! Fogs actually had a bit of heat in the off-fore the following day so we stayed put ...

Most unusual restocking point

Most Serious
I spent the weekend as a guest of the Department of Equine Studies at Waikato Institiute of Technology , The management of horse on long journeys presents a very different set of challenges to the management of competition horses and I was glad to be able to share some of what I have learned on the road, with the students there. 

About 300 yards along State Highway 1 in Horotio near the Anchor butter factory. Gee those are big trucks and they come fast...

Most worthwhile
4 young people who ride with Ride Hi - a new riding Therapy centre set up near Hamilton by Pam Harwood - rode out with me one morning through the adjoining dairy farm. 

Flattest and saddest
On our last day we took the road beside Lake Waikere and then across some magnificent wetlands (thanks to Gaylene Bullock who showed me the way) to Mere Mere, where Debbie Freeman met us with the truck. The holiday weekend traffic coming out of Auckland was not to be trifled with and discretion seemed the better part of valour. However it was with a real lump in my throat that I saw the ramp closed on all that we have done to date...

Most unpredictable
We had long been booked in at the Auckland Easter show and we had main ring space for two hours in the afternoon with Auckland RDA. The Topp Twins who are vastly popular entertainers here , kept the whole event together from Boris's back. Borrie was impressed and found every excuse to show off. Foggy meanwhile was convinced that the Ferris wheel was some kind of barn door, about to come down on top of him; the final crunch very nearly came when it started up right beside us just as we left for the box park: fogs spun round and I was forced to drop Borrie who lost it completely and set off across the park, rope dangling...


Since when they have been on holiday, at Debbie Freeman's property south of Auckland. Foggs is being fed vast quantities to try to regain some of the weight he has dropped over the last month, so he is well pleased... we go on on 11 April..






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  Four Beats to Freedom - 2001.