Horse Safaris

The Tekapo Main Divide Expedition (12 days)

Departs from: Waitohi Downs  Base to Lake

Departs from Mt Gerald Station Lake to Base

ALPINE HORSE SAFARIS Now offers a safari unlike any other…
The Tekapo Main Divide Expedition – New Zealand’s Longest Horse Ride.

This safari travels through some famous high country stations and crosses some of the largest rivers in the South Island of New Zealand. This horse riding trip is very popular with guests wanting to ride the longest, most adventurous alpine horse trip available in New Zealand.



Guests mount their horses keen to depart from base at Waitohi Downs to begin their exhilarating adventure. Riding through hill country, up the banks of the Hurunui River to emerge onto the Lake Sumner Road passing through scenic Maori Gully. fording the Seaward River and riding up the South Branch to reach Eskhead Station,. We camp in the comfortable shearers quarters equipped with electricity and hot showers to ease those weary bones.


Morning dawns and everyone is eager to start riding, have breakfast, roll their swags, catch their horses and ready to go, winding their way up the South Branch to Deep Creek Hut. After a brief stop to boil the billy, we start the two hour climb up the steep Riding Spur to the top of the Dampier Range, boundary between Eskhead and Mt White Station. We sidle down to our lunch stop by the picturesque small tarn nestled in the golden tussocks. Following down Andersons Spur, we cross the Esk River, and continue across vast open flat until we reach Maternity Gully that runs into Ant Stream. About 1 Km upstream is the Anna Hut, our bed for the night. Eight bunks in this hut, so tents are required. Cooking over the open fire a delicious meal is prepared to satisfy the hungry riders.


Breaking camp at 8-30 a.m we leave the Anna Hut and head for the Shearers Quarters at Mt White Station. On the way, we ride around Main Range, pass Big and Little Flora, viewing Lochinvar country, crossing Nigger Stream to our lunch stop at Nigger Hill Hut. Across the Esk River is the Puketeraki Range, a vast expanse of country with ridges on it like Pig Spur, Anna Spur, Broadleaf Spur, The Parkees, The Limestone and to the south Chest Peak. Continuing on around Mt White we arrive high up on a ridge overlooking the buildings and we see our accommodation for the night, where we enjoy electricity and hot showers.


All packed we depart from the Mt White Quarters, riding the vast developed flats, heading for the Waimakariri River at the mouth of the Esk. Our first major river crossing! Once across we are on Flock Hill Station, riding over flat and Downey country and have lunch before crossing the Tranz Alpine Railway Line. We head in on the 4 WD track to the Flock Hill Backpackers where we stay the night. Spoilt again hot showers and electricity.


An easy day today with the packhorses unloaded we leave Flock Hill Backpackers and ride round the rugged eroded mountain called Constitution and get a glimpse of the Coleridge Pass, that we cross the next day. Descending down to Broken River we ride up the Porter River, crossing the Christchurch Arthur Pass Highway and heading up to the Porter Heights Ski Field Accommodation. A water wheel supplies the electricity and hot water for the showers.


Leaving our comfortable quarters we ride up the Porter River and over Coleridge Pass on the end of Craigieburn Range, viewing the headwaters of the Rakaia River, Mt Arrowsmith, Mt Algidus, Mt Hutt and the turquoise coloured waters of Lake Coleridge. Descending down the steep south side of Coleridge Pass we break for lunch at the boundary of Lake Coleridge and Ryton Stations. We continue riding through and cross the Ryton River, passing Lake Catherine to the junction of the Harper and Avoca Rivers where we cross over to Glenthorne Station and camp at the Retreat Hut our accommodation for the next two nights. (Gas electrics and shower).


This is our rest day where we can catch up with washing, go for a hike up to Lake Lillian, view the Pinnacles, about an hours walk up the Harper River or be like the horses, just relax in the sun and enjoy the time off.


Today sees us packing up, ready to move out, regretful and sad to be leaving this peaceful oasis, but keen to view new country. We follow down the west side of the Harper River to the Wilberforce River. Once across we are on Mt Aldigus Station both made famous by the books written by Mona Anderson (A River Rules My Life.) We stop for lunch overlooking the Station buildings and then head to the Mathias River. Once across we are on Manuka Point Station where we camp in the Shearers Quarters and tents are also used. (Electricity and shower).


Swags rolled and packhorses loaded, we ride out to cross the mighty Rakaia River, approximately 5 Kms of braided riverbed to cross ,that takes about one hour. Riding out of the river we are on Glenfalloch country. We ride south up Lake Stream, with Lake Heron country to the west, Glenfalloch to the east and the Ashburton Gorge to the south. Our accommodation tonight is either at Lake Heron or Mt Arrowsmith. (Electricity and shower).

DAY 10

Riding round Lake Heron on Mt Arrowsmith country, we view trout leaping in the lake as we head for the Ashburton River and cross over to Haketere Station, thousands of acres of vast tussock covered country. Passing Lake Clearwater and viewing snowcapped peaks of the Two Thumb Range we emerge out on the road at the Potts River cutting. As we ride down to the Rangitata River we view Mesopotamia Station homestead and buildings in the far distance. Our accommodation for the night is in the Shearers Quarters. (electricity and shower).

DAY 11

The going gets tougher! We ride up Scour Creek and follow the old pack-track past the Felt Hut, up over Bullock Bow Saddle on the Sinclair Range and descend down into Bush Stream, where our camp for the night is at the Royal Hut, once visited by Princess Anne and Prince Charles. Tents need to be used. (No showers or electricity).

DAY 12

Final day dawns and the toughest climb ahead. Riding up the Two Thumb range through Stag Saddle, 1924m (6314ft) where magnificent views can be seen, (weather permitting) of Lake Tekapo, Lake Benmore, Lake Pukaki, also Mt Cook, Mt Tasman and all the high tops can be seen from this vantage point. From here we descend down for about four hours till we reach Mt Gerald Station Quarters, our accommodation for the night. (Electricity and shower) The horses are washed and brushed and turned out into a 60 acre red and white clover paddock saved for them. This will be their home until we return in ten days time with a new group, to start the ride back to Waitohi Downs.

Price & Dates


 Deposit $1000.00                

 Maximum riders: 12

01 November riding South from Base to Lake

21 November riding  North from Lake to Base

Additional Information / Instructions

Click here for Google map and driving directions.

Operation subject to a minimum of 10 riders

To make a reservation on any of our rides we require a honest assessment of your height, weight, age and riding ability. The horses really appreciate it!