Ride Like The Wind
To say that it’s been a dreary winter would be a bit of an understatement, so I have been ready and waiting to ditch the igloo and dip into the spring air. And, I know we’ve been thinking about sunsets and horizons, but what about riding into them?
Horse riding may be an old school activity, but it’s an awesome way to spend quality time outdoors and go beyond the gym or usual run.
I’m a total beginner, but was keen to give it a go, so I opted for a favourite local go-to –Horse Trekking Lake Okareka – to try it out! It’s important to be guided by an expert or a trained professional, especially if you’re new on the scene.
I signed up for the one-and-a-half- hour native bush trek, which caters for non-riders as well as experienced riders, and incorporates all the landscapes – farms, mountains, lakes – the perfect place to tick horse riding off your bucket list. There is a 30-minute beginners walk option if you’re not feeling confident, but I highly recommend trying this one to get a feel for the real deal.
The ride begins at the stables where you meet Lucy and her team who settle you in and provide you with all the gear and advice needed for a great first-time experience. Your horse is chosen depending on your riding experience and size. I was lucky enough to partner up with Keeper – one very laid-back horse who loves to cruise at an easy pace.
Lucy’s horses are calm, careful, safety conscious and know what they’re doing. You just need to take it easy and soak in the amazing scenery.
Once saddled, you’ll learn the basics – using your legs to get your horse moving, holding the reins, learning how to stop and turn. Once those tasks are mastered, you head out for a gentle walk, starting with an uphill cliffside walk overlooking views of Lake Okareka, passing through paddocks, looking out to the majestic Mount Tarawera.
Exploring Lake Okareka on horseback is as relaxing as it gets – breathing the fresh country air and travelling paths you couldn’t get to any other way. It’s where your mind really resets and you feel totally away from it all.
But horse riding is also hard work! If you think that the horse does all the work, think again! After two hours in the saddle going up and down hills, traversing paddocks and bush, I certainly felt it! I can liken it most to a decent workout – it takes balance, strong legs and a stable core to stay in the saddle. Don’t worry, you’re not required to be fit to do it.
Ready to give it a shot?
Rotorua’s biggest attraction is its natural beauty, which is what makes horse riding it’s trails, specifically Horse Trekking Lake Okareka, even better – but New Zealand is full of incredible horse trekking opportunities, so seek one out and ride on in.