Eleanor on her horse, “Smokey”, and me on my horse, “Knox”.

Horseback Riding through the Cardrona Mountain Valley: 9/27

A day trip to Wanaka with El! We fulfilled our childhood dreams of riding some horses in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Plus: A Tunnel Beach sunrise during the following week.

Route from Dunedin to Cardrona. Wanaka is about 20 minutes from Cardrona.

9/27 — Friday: Wanaka Day Trip

The day started very early for us. We had to be at the Cardrona Mountain Valley by 9:20 AM. I don’t even remember what time we actually left, but it was still dark out, and as usual, we started the road trip with some breakfast at Macca’s.

We rolled into Wanaka bright and early, stopped for some breakfast, and then drove the remaining 30 or so minutes into the Cardrona area to Backcountry Saddle. Got a little lost, definitely went to the only other horse riding place in that valley before realizing our mistake, and then finally found it. Super cute place and very friendly staff.

Backcountry Saddle.

They put us on our horses, introduced us to them as well as their dog, Dixie! We were set for a 2 hour long trek and Dixie ran freely and energetically alongside us the whole way, occasionally stopping to catch a rabbit or mouse in the long grass with a triumphant yip.

LEFT: My horse Knox. RIGHT: Dixie looking out over her land as she stands on the edge of the trail.

My horse was named Knox and Eleanor’s was named Smokey. It was off to a good start, until it was very obvious that my horse wasn’t having it. We were told not to let them drink out of some of the creeks we would cross, even though they would try to, and when we got to the first creek Knox began yanking extremely aggressively on his reigns trying to shake my hands free so that he could drink. He wasn’t listening to any of my commands and 100% knew I was an amateur at handling horses and took full advantage of that. He made a lot of grunts at me while refusing to move forward and finally won and got to drink at this creek before we moved on, but the rest of the ride he did everything he could to work against me. For example, every time we’d come to a super steep hill, he’d wander away from the group despite my attempts to steer him and would take some super treacherous track down instead. Or, everytime we’d pass an area with thorn bushes, he would walk right next to all of them, sometimes literally going out of his way to do so, so that they would hit me and scratch my legs. He was a grumpy little boy.

Me on Knox and El on Smokey! We thought it was fun, even if the horses didn’t.

Regardless, it was still fun. We got to trot quite a bit on them, and also had a few moments of cantering as well. I had never done anymore than a walk on a horse, so that was exciting. Towards the end, we were getting a little sore and both agreed we could not have done it for longer than 2 hours.

The Cardrona Hotel.

Afterwards, we stopped at the historically famous Cardrona Hotel and explored a little bit. We also stopped for a free tasting at Rippon Vineyard. LOVE that place. Then, we spent the evening in Wanaka before driving back later that night. We had some fish n chips and tried some deep-fried kiwi fruit on a stick, which was super good, as well as enjoyed laying on the rocky beach in the setting sun. The ride home was filled with good talks and empty dark roads, except for the most terrifying semi I have ever seen that came up right behind us and literally looked like a UFO. Overall, great day and time well spent.

LEFT: Lake Wanaka. RIGHT: View of Lake Wanaka from Rippon Vineyard.

10/1 — Tuesday: Tunnel Beach Sunrise

Brandon, Danny, and I at Tunnel Beach.

We woke up bright and early before our lectures to make the 20 minute drive over to Tunnel Beach for the sunrise. Second time here, but first with the sunrise. Zach, Brandon, and Brandon’s friend from Australia who was visiting all came with me, and we had some good times while we waited for the sun. Enjoy the pics of it below, some of which are from me and the others from Zach.

Some filmies from my disposable camera that I took. Our view as the sun just started to spread firstlight.
The sun!! PC:ZH.
Pics of me standing on the Tunnel Beach point (PC:ZH).

After the sunrise, we explored the beach part as the tide came in before heading back to campus for the day. The rest of the week was lectures and hang outs while waiting for the weekend.

The sunrise from the beach.
Climbing and waiting.

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