Some may consider travelling around New Zealand on horseback a tedious prospect but Larissa Mueller and Kendall Waugh would not have it any other way.
Since they left Hawkes Bay in November 2014, the pair have been trekking along the coast in an effort to raise money for the Leg-Up Trust, which was created to establish connections between horses and emotionally, behaviourally, socially or otherwise disadvantaged people.
The trust aims to help people build confidence, trust, self-esteem and personal growth.
Their time spent on the road has not been all riding, however. The pair spent six months in Wanaka during winter.
Miss Mueller and Miss Kendall arrived in Oamaru recently after a brief stop in Palmerston.
Asked how the idea for their journey came about, Miss Waugh said she and Miss Mueller had never thought they would embark on a journey that would take them about two years.
“We always wanted to get horses. Then we wanted to do something with them and it kind of escalated. It was just a dream and we just started to do it instead of thinking about it. We didn’t know what we were getting into.”While Miss Mueller said the trip had been full of “highs and lows”, the most challenging aspect, with the exception of the trek’s timeframe, had been finding a place to bunk for the night, especially for horses China and Sprite.
“The biggest focus is finding them a paddock. We really don’t mind where we end up, as long as they are safe and secure.”The pair have slept in everything from tents and woolsheds to cribs and caravans.
They cover on average about 30km a day, with the longest distance covered in a day about 45km.
China and Sprite have plenty of time for rest and are occasionally checked over by a vet, while Miss Mueller and Miss Waugh clip the horses’ hooves regularly.
“They get it pretty easy … we always make sure they have some energy at the end of the day. They’re keeping up really well,” Miss Mueller said.
Miss Waugh said the best part of the trip was meeting friendly people.
“People in New Zealand are just incredible. They are very welcoming. If you’re having a rough day and someone drives past and is like, `Yeah!’, it really makes it all worth it.”She said the pair had been fortunate enough to see the the country from a different perspective, especially as they had been given permission by landowners to access areas usually off limits to the public.
“We’ve seen bits of the coastline people don’t get to see.”So far, Miss Mueller and Miss Waugh have raised about $3700 for the Leg-Up Trust, and have a target of $20,000 in mind.
They left Oamaru last Saturday bound for Timaru.