Four beats to freedom - a horseback journey through New Zealand

Mary's New Zealand Diary   -  Update - The END

We were glad to have two days off completely in Kaitaia to turn round and dry out – I had my money virtually pegged out on the line, paper towels in between every page of my diary and sadly the harmonica which has been wonderful company for miles and miles will never play again. It rusted. As indeed had this and many other cars throughout the back blocks of Northland…

In Kaitaia the boys had a lovely paddock, courtesy of RDA. We rode down to Oturu school with six weekly riders, and I was thrilled and moved to be greeted with a Maori welcome – wonderful close harmony and a full bodied sound witness to the real talent present on the playground that morning. The boys took it all in their stride and politely accepted offerings of grass and popcorn aplenty afterwards….

Going north on the Saturday , our very last bit of main road into Awanui was a bit hair raising as a vicious squall blew in at the same time as a succession of logging trucks swept by; this sign was singularly welcome just after we passed the main junction.

The idea was to have a fund raising ‘ride the 90 mile’ ride on the Sunday. Sadly the weather was so consistently horrible, with a fierce southerly bringing wind and rain that few people turned up. Those that did actually had a great ride – it is a surreal expanse of sand . A couple of very tiny people came as well, riding on the pommel of their parents’ saddles! 

I camped one night at Hukatere, where the horses had a good paddock and where I erected my tent actually inside an old bach. It was a less than salubrious existence, but that way I could pack up in the dry in the morning, and avoid getting blown away!
90 mile beach is actually about 45 miles long ( and 45 miles back, presumably). We rode about 60 km of it. 60 km of sand is a lot of sand!! It is a vast and sweeping endless expanse, which must be even more mind blowing in fine weather. 

Petrels, gulls, terns and stilts , and the occasional seal. Jelly fish went splat beneath our feet. Mobs of wild horses can present a problem, but those we encountered watched us from what they regarded as a safe distance and then skittered off into the huge commercial forest beyond the narrow line of dunes. In the high wind I did not dare let the pack horse ‘do his own thing’ as both of them would wish – like all horses, both Foggy and Boris find the wind quite mind expanding and I felt I could do without little acts of creativity (which can border on hooliganism) in those conditions. Both of them sulked furiously as a result – Boris particularly, who packed the last couple of days. In the last few weeks he started copying Foggs by trying to push ahead when he is loose, becoming fiercely competitive in his attempt to remain in the premier position. He usually forgets himself for a brief moment when a particularly luscious patch of clover catches his eye, and then the whole argument has to start again!

I was very glad of my GPS on the beach – a present from the parents and children at The English International School, Prague – not to find my way (‘Keep the sea on the left’) but to establish how far we had still to travel. It was quite a mental exercise – sometimes it felt like being on an everlasting treadmill. 
We camped up at Bluff, where there is a basic campsite with water, a loo and a magnificent view of the sea. 


I had gone complete with extra electric fence (courtesy of Gallagher) for this particular night as one can have problems with the wild horses, and accordingly I erected a double fenced paddock where the boys could tuck in beneath some bush and get a little shelter. No wild horses were going to emerge from the comfort of the pine forest on a night like that however – I am sure they were laughing at those poor domestic horses penned up in the wind and rain. The surf roared all night and the tent threatened to transplant itself in Patagonia.

On the Tuesday we were on the beach at ¼ to 10 . High tide was at 10.25 and being a full moon it was a very high tide. With a gale blowing it was higher still. We crept along beside the sand dunes – but even so were knee deep in surf on the ‘seventh wave’. Exciting stuff. The wind built during the day so that every stride was a struggle and in fact a gust of 110 kmph was recorded that afternoon up at the Cape. That has to have been the one that nearly bowled us over… It was a relief to turn up Te Paki stream, with the wind behind us at last, between huge sand dunes, and to eventually reach Te Paki station single men’s quarters.

The sign which we passed when we came off the beach up into Te Paki station!





The last morning had a strange feel. It is only about 18 km to the cape from Te Paki, on a good metal road. 

The squalls still blew, the rain still fell, alternating with startling sunshine. The country spread out behind us framed briefly by a rainbow. 

As we approached the car park at the Cape the wind built to gale force to the extent that I actually got off to walk the last few hundred yards. Children from Te Hapua which is the northern-most school in the country were there to welcome us, singing in maori and plying the boys with apples and carrots – all rather emotional.

Horses aren’t allowed to the light house as it is the point from which the Maori spirits are said to depart, and presumably the rattle of Borises feet and the rumbling of his stomach would unnerve them for the final journey, but of course Jacko and I walked down. However I blew it all totally on the technical front, running out of film, battery, and video tape all at once, so the moment is not well recorded.

Since then, we have shipped the boys down to Auckland and on to Hurunui Horse Treks in Hawarden. 

Borrie is thrilled to be home. Fogs has not quite decided how he feels , but is scheduled to stay here for a while . You too could ride him if you book a holiday with them!! I am thrilled to be back in the South Island where the snow is lying on the tops and the wind is sharp – and it feels very much like coming home…

I will be back in the UK from 5th July. If any pony club, riding club or school would be interested in my coming to talk about the journey, please get in touch by emailing me on . I can’t bring the boys, sadly, but I will have some slides. At this stage the journey doesn’t end – it just changes shape….


Mary's Diary-1 ] Mary's Diary-2 ] Mary's Diary-3 ] Mary's Diary-4 ] Mary's Diary-5 ] Mary's Diary-6 ] Mary's Diary-7 ] Mary's Diary-8 ] Mary's Diary-9 ] Mary's Diary-10 ] Mary's Diary-11 ]





The Long Riders' Guild

back to Nord Anglia main page


Home ] News ] Journey ] Who Benefits? ] Sponsorship ] Jacko's Pages ] Teachers ] Information ] New Zealand. ]

Site design by Equinenet

since 8 August, 2001

e-mail the webmaster

  © Four Beats to Freedom - 2001.