I have finally started my journey!!!
It has taken two days to drive up to Cape Farewell and now I will take at least two months to ride my horses home and then on down to Bluff. I have taken Chief (Mararoa Mighty Chief) a 12 year old gelding and his full sister Maddy (Mararoa Mighty Madaline) who is 9 years old.
Farewell Spit to Collingwood (28km)
The horses had travelled well and were feeling good and the weather was great so I decided to start straight away. I saddled them up and took them to the cafe overlooking Farewell Spit, but we were too early and the cafe was not open yet so we dipped the horses hooves in the sea while looking at Farewell Spit and then headed off towards Collingwood.
The tide was in so I could not go on the beach so most of the first part was on the road. Stan and Brian caught up with me and brought me takeaway coffee!!! The traffic on the road was good and very courteous and the drivers very friendly. As the tide went out I started to ride on the beach but stayed on this a bit long as I had to backtrack a bit to get back on the road as we got closer to Collingwood.
We stayed in the Collingwood camping ground and the owner let us put our horses in her horse paddock. She fenced this in half and filled up the water and put out some hay for us, she really went out of her way to help. This was a great start to the journey.
Collingwood to Takaka (26 km)
This was a big day on roads and lots of big trucks. There were all kinds of trucks, from milk tankers to all kinds of Solly trucks and camper vans and they were very good. I think they must have been talking to each other on their RTs to watch out for me. There was one time when we came down a steep hill with a tight corner and a steep bank up the side and I had nowhere to get off the road and I could hear this truck coming and it was an empty truck and trailer and the driver was really good and braked hard as soon as he saw me and I could see the smoke from his brakes as he slowed down. I am so pleased with how well behaved the horses are with the trucks.
I took the horses for drink in river just before we arrived at Takaka. We stayed at the River Inn and the horses stayed in the cow paddock next to us and we fenced off a corner so they don’t drink the cattle water.
Takaka to Upper Takaka (26.4km)
It rained and was windy overnight and the morning was colder and the rain was meant to clear so I waited until 10am and set off. I took the back streets through Takaka and called in at the supermarket to catch up with Stan and Brian. I then took the East Takaka road to avoid the main traffic and this was much quieter and was very straight for a long time, before becoming gravel and very windy for the last 6 km.
I could feel Chief was tired from the tar seal road so I walked beside him for part of the day. Maddy is feeling good and keen to outwalk Chief. She is handling the pack boxes well but they are not up to full weight yet.
Upper Takaka to Kaiteriteri (36km)
The horses climbed the hill really well and felt good, but they were starting to feel tired from half way down and really did not like the camber on the road as they were on the same angle on the inside corners.
I walked most of the way down and then next day I would also feel my calf muscles on this side only so I know how the horses felt. I did not put the pack saddle on Maddy today as this was going to be a big climb up and over this hill and as we had the vehicle there was no point in making Maddy take it up and down the hill at this stage of the trip.
Part way down I took a track off the side which was part of the old road and I followed this for a while, this was a welcome break from the tar seal and traffic going down the hill. Brian followed down the hill on his bike to keep the traffic slower going past us. The horses shoes are wearing thin now and are getting slippery on the tar seal. We stayed at the Bethany Camping ground. This was another 6km from Riwaka and the horses were very tired as they got into camp and so pleased to be finished for the day. We had a lovely little log cabin and tethered the horses under willow trees by the storage area.
Rest day for the horses
We drove to Richmond for some more horse shoes as they are wearing out much quicker than I expected. We also checked out the road ahead for the next day.
Riwaka to Woodstock (35.7km)
Brian followed in the bike to slow the traffic down and we passed many orchards and most of them were apples trees. There is a road on both sides of the Motueka river but this one has much less traffic. We passed two lovely appaloosa horses which were originally from Southland and one of them is by my old stallion.
I stayed at Woodstock Farm in a lovely cottage with adjacent horse paddock. The horses were so happy to roll and relax with lots of eat. The bridge across the Motueka river was further down the road so two girls jumped on their ponies bareback and showed me a way across the river which saved a few kms each way to come back up.