The Best Places for Horseback Riding in New Zealand
If Gandalf can use a horse to navigate Middle-earth, why can’t you?! A huge aspect of New Zealand‘s appeal is indeed the mountains, hills and lakes that were chosen to depict Middle-earth. Getting to view this scenery through fun activities makes them all the more spectacular, and horse trekking is certainly one of those. We’ll go through some awesome horse riding tours in New Zealand in the list below!
Horse riding in New Zealand caters to the abilities of the riders. Even if you are a complete beginner, your guide will teach you the basics and progress with what you are comfortable with. However, if this isn’t your first time on a horse then there’s often the opportunity to gallop and feel the wind through your hair!
1. River Valley Stables
With North Island scenery to die for, the remote River Valley is worth discovering sitting high on a horse. River Valley Stables uses natural horsemanship techniques, helping you build a relationship with your horse before venturing into the hills. River Valley also offers accommodation and white water rafting so you could find yourself lost in this wilderness land for days!
Location: River Valley Lodge, 266 Mangahoata Road, Taihape, North Island.
2. The Cardrona Hotel
Ride the open plains of gold mining history and breathtaking scenery in the Cardrona Valley. Open plateaus of farmland surrounded by the mountains of the Crown Ranges make this horse trek between Queenstown and Wanaka well worth considering on the South Island. The Cardrona Hotel offers a couple of horse trek tours ranging from 2 hours to 3 hrs 30 mins.
Location: 2125 Cardrona Valley Road, Cardrona, South Island.
3. Rubicon Valley Horse Treks
Located just between Christchurch and the majestic mountains of Arthur’s Pass, Rubicon Valley Horse Treks is a tempting option for many travelling through the South Island. Walk, trot or canter through a high-country sheep farm, past the Waimakariri River Canyon and the Southern Alps. The 2-hour horse trek also includes morning or afternoon tea. For more things to do through Arthur’s Pass, check out the 10 Best Things to Do in Arthur’s Pass National Park.
Location: 534 Rubicon Road, Springfield, South Island.
4. Adventure Playground
Adventure Playground offers guided horse treks on the hills of Mt Ngongotaha where you’ll wind through native forest to open hills overlooking Rotorua. The tour is suitable for beginners to experienced riders. Only lasting around one hour, the trek also makes a great option for those on limited time (probably because they want to fit in 25 Best Things to Do in Rotorua) or who just want a taste of horse riding in New Zealand.
Location: 451 Ngongotaha Road, Rotorua, North Island.
5. Golden Hills Horse Treks
Escape the chaos of Queenstown with a tranquil horse trek near Cromwell. Enjoy sweeping vistas of Lake Dunstan and the Mt Pisa Range on a small-group horse ride with Golden Hills Horse Treks. The 2-hour experience is suitable for all ages and abilities, with kids being led on the horse if needed. Cover plenty of ground and get amazing photos from various hilltops on this Central Otago ride. For more experiences in the area, take a look at the 10 Best Things to Do in Cromwell.
Location: State Highway 6, Cromwell, North Island.
6. Lighthouse Adventures
Treat yourself to a fantastic horse ride through mountainous valleys awash in braided rivers, no matter what your level of riding experience is. Better yet, feel like you are in Middle-earth, as Lighthouse Adventures is based in one of the Lord of the Rings filming locations, only 45 minutes away from Queenstown, in Glenorchy. With an emphasis on happy horses by using natural horsemanship techniques, this one can’t help but give you the “feel-good” factor. While you’re in the area, check out the 15 Best Things to Do in Glenorchy.
Location: 2 Swamp Road, Glenorchy, South Island.
7. Blue Duck Station
This almost inaccessible spot near the Whanganui National Park offers a challenging but rewarding horse trek. Go uphill to capture views of the surrounding rainforest at the remote Blue Duck Station. Whether you prefer a half-day ride or a multi-day riding adventure with accommodation and meals provided, you can stay in the wilderness for as long as you like!
Location: 4265 Oio Road, Retaruke, North Island.
8. Cape Farewell Horse Treks
Ride along the rugged clifftops and sweeping beaches of Wharariki Beach with Cape Farewell Horse Treks. The area offers impressive views of Farewell Spit and the surrounding landmarks including Pillar Point. Such landmarks are best enjoyed riding a majestic horse, don’t you agree? Choose from a range of rides, from 1 hr 30 mins to 4 hours. Plus, discover more gems nearby in the 20 Best Things to Do in Golden Bay.
Location: Wharariki Road, Golden Bay, South Island.
9. Ahipara Horse Treks
As one of the longest beaches in New Zealand, there’s lots of room to play around with on Ninety Mile Beach. Start your trek with Ahipara Horse Treks in Ahipara and ride along to the sound of waves crashing. Wade through water and gallop along long stretches of hard sand. Choose from 1-hour, 90-minute and 2-hour treks, rides specially designed for kids, or a sunset ride or swim ride in summer. For more ways to keep the kids happy, check out the 50 Best Things to Do in New Zealand with Kids.
Location: 11 Foreshore Road, Ahipara, North Island.
10. Out on a Lim
For a Maori cultural experience mixed with horse trekking, try Out on a Lim horse trekking near Wairoa. Cross Maori ancestral lands along the coast and listen to Maori legends along the way. Trek over hills, across wetlands and on the beach in this beautiful yet secluded area of Hawke’s Bay.
Location: 109 Iwitea Road, Wairoa, North Island.
More About Horse Riding in New Zealand
That’s it for our list of the best horse riding tours in New Zealand. Combine your time horse riding with some of the best experiences in New Zealand, as listed in these guides:
- 51 Best Things to Do on the North Island
- 51 Best Things to Do on the South Island
- 101 Things to Do in New Zealand: The Ultimate List
Finally, plan your entire trip to New Zealand with ease with help from The Best Travel Guide to New Zealand.