Everyone’s bucket list is different. Some wish to explore sites off the beaten track, some wish to volunteer with children or animals, some dream of scuba diving in rare bodies of water to photograph those elusive fish, and others just want to eat the best piece of cheesecake they can find. For me, Queenstown ticked off so many of my wishes. First, it is located in New Zealand- a country I had always wanted to visit. Secondly it boasts adventure, food, and innovative experiences (See my recent reviews on the Onsen Hot Pools & Ziptrek Ecotours for inspiration!), and thirdly,  it brings travellers from all over the world to work together in one tight-knit community. Who wouldn’t find something here to tick off the list? In continuing by spotlight on Queenstown, featuring many reasons my fellow Canadians need to make the lengthy trip, I now give you a rare treat with the inner scoop on one of my favourite experiences of my Queenstown trip: Horse Trekking with Moonlight Stables.

The Queenstown New Zealand Bucket List Pt. 3- Horse Trekking with Moonlight Stables
The Queenstown New Zealand Bucket List Pt. 3- Horse Trekking with Moonlight Stables

Since 1962, Moonlight Stables has given travellers worldwide the rare opportunity to enjoy the Queenstown scenery from a saddle viewpoint. What could be more incredible than a breath of fresh air surrounded by mountains, fields, and wildlife? Complete this picture with a majestic horse, and you have the perfect marriage of scenery and peace.

Janice Clear - Owner of Moonlight Stables
Janice Clear – Owner of Moonlight Stables

With over 25 years of experience, your host Janice Clear will bring a welcoming family touch to your session. No matter how much riding experience you have, you will be comfortable in knowing that you and your comfort level will be well taken care of. Janice and her team assist you with all the important details including horse selection based on experience, essential accessories of boots, helmets, and jackets, as well as help with the ever important saddling up.

The many saddles available to riders
The many saddles available to riders

 

Me all dressed in my riding duds!
Me all dressed in my riding duds!

 

Up and ready after assistance!
Up and ready after assistance!

For someone who had her first horse-riding experience, I couldn’t feel more at ease. The attention to detail of providing a Western saddle for added balance and a friendly horse who commonly chauffeurs the timid (Beautiful Sid), I felt that I was in capable and comfortable hands (not to mention hooves!)

comfortable on beautiful Sid
comfortable on beautiful Sid

 

In riding mode!

What Should I Expect on my Horse Trekking Experience?

The stables boast a beautiful 800 acres overlooking the gorgeous Queenstown Remarkables – a remarkable home to a beautiful equine family of over 20 horses.

The beautiful stable grounds
The beautiful stable grounds

 

Some of the many horses in Janice's Equine family
Some of the many horses in Janice’s Equine family.

You can be rest assured that the horses are treated incredibly well; perhaps spoilt is a better word 🙂 They are rotated for riding to avoid being overworked, and fed a daily diet of hay and vegetables. As an animal lover and adorer of horses, I was happy in the knowledge the horses at Moonlight Stables were some of the luckiest and best treated in the world.

Horses out in the field having a rest from riding.
Horses out in the field having a rest from riding.

 

A happy horse looking at the scenery
A happy horse looking at the scenery

Once you’re paired with your horse, you are shown basic rein instructions. I was incredibly fortunate to have been paired with such an obedient horse. Sid listened to commands, rode in the correct direction at a reasonable pace, and stopped when I pulled the reins. It was stress-free considering I had never been on a horse before!

Some horses can be more difficult to control than others. In fact, the girls at the stables mentioned that mares can be more temperamental than stallions, making males more suitable for riders with mixed levels of experience. Luckily my beautiful stallion Sid was as friendly as they come!

Beautiful Sid! He was a dream to ride.
Beautiful Sid! He was a dream to ride.

Once you have mounted your horse, it is time for your adventure. Make sure you dress warmly and choose a day with sunshine- this way you will be more comfortable on the trail and capture the most incredible photographs. Feel a little shaky trying to keep your balance and holding on? Not to worry! Hand your camera to the girls from the Stables and they will be happy to snap photographs of you riding and of the scenery. This extra touch was truly appreciated as I could not focus on staying atop the horse and take photos, they gladly took the lens and snapped a bunch for me.

The Beautiful Trek

Team members accompany you on the trail and discuss many points of interest along the way. You will see the family’s reindeer herd amidst the tall field grass, combined with glorious breathtaking views from such a unique vantage point. Pinch me. Those were the unbelievable Remarkables surrounding me.

The gorgeous views seen from the saddle.
The gorgeous views seen from the saddle.

 

The beautiful Remarkables
The beautiful Remarkables.

 

Enjoying the ride!

Being a complete riding novice, it was magical having such a majestic creature escorting me through his native land and showing me the scenery that has shaped Queenstown into the beautiful traveller destination it has become today.

Horses in New Zealand are some of the best in the world. In fact, my horse Sid, was selected for scenes in the recent Lord of the Rings movies! What an incredible honour for Moonlight Stables to have their own horse featured in such a blockbuster film series. And if this wasn’t enough to warrant bragging rights, Mr White, the horse my husband got the privilege to ride, was selected for the Air New Zealand safety campaign. Truly incredible honours for such majestic creatures.

Horse Trekking in Queenstown NZ with Moonlight Stables
Horse Trekking in Queenstown NZ with Moonlight Stables.

 

Mr White!
Mr White!

 

My husband riding Mr. White
My husband riding Mr. White

I would highly recommend adding a horse trek to any Queenstown itinerary. If you love horses, or animals in general, you will thoroughly enjoy riding through mountains with such incredible backdrops. You will see parts of the mountains only accessible via horse and get incredible photographs.

For a town that promotes adrenaline-pumping activities, it is a treat to do something still adventurous, but at the same time, relaxing as you share an experience with such an incredible animal. Take the time to marvel at the beauty and magnificence that horses truly are. An experience like this will not only warm you heart with their impeccable majesty, but will charm your soul as you bond with such an unbelievable creature. After riding a horse, you will not be the same. You will be enchanted forever.

And now an interview with Janice Herself!

FMP: How does it feel to be the longest established riding stables in Queenstown?

Janice: Amazing because many people come and go. To be quite grounded and be here for 55 years and having our horses since 1992 we are the privileged ones since we have met so many amazing people. The ladies who have helped me over the years have been fantastic. It’s a great bonding process and you need great patience. Gives people a chance to relax and it is a great confidence booster.

FMP: What do you feel makes Queenstown ideal for horse trekking being the adventure capital of the world?

Janice: Everything. Everywhere you look it is incredible. You can ride a horse and have a beautiful view many places, but nothing compares to here in New Zealand.

FMP: How have you observed tourism changing from when you started and how have you adapted to these changes?

Janice: The difference between winter and summer are different. In summer, people are coming and going all day. It is definitely getting busier. It has changed. Around 30 years ago, mainly American tourists visited NZ. Now it is everybody coming to visit. The pace has definitely quickened and it is more difficult to keep a hold on things. Not everyone is an adrenaline junkie so it is nice to offer something a bit more passive, but also adventurous. It is a great opportunity to get in touch with nature in our fast pace.

It is pretty nice to be here. I am living the dream. To give people a little bit of outdoors away from the hustle and bustle is amazing.

Sid and I in glorious Queenstown NZ
Sid and I in glorious Queenstown NZ.

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*Note: Fill My Passport was a guest of Moonlight Stables. All views and opinions expressed in this post are my own and were not influenced in any way.