A week ago, I returned to the mountainous terrains of New Zealand’s South Island to tick horse riding off my bucket list, something I’ve been wanting to do ever since I was a little girl.
As a huge fan of the Lord of The Rings, it was a dream come true to ride through the plains of Dart Valley at Glenorchy, the very place that provided the scenic backdrop for the Misty Mountains and Isenguard!
It is a 45 kilometre journey from the main adventure hub of Queenstown to Glenorchy. Although the town itself is rather small and quiet, it is brimming with outdoor activities like fishing and tramping, ideal for nature enthusiasts or movie buffs who come purposely to visit iconic filming locations.
Even if outdoor activities are not your cup of tea, I’d recommend just taking a drive along that route as it’s wonderfully scenic; we slowly cruised through the winding roads along the basin of Lake Wakatipu, stopping every now and then to admire the view of the Remarkables Ranges in the far distance.
Temperatures that afternoon was comfortably cool, albeit slightly gloomy with fog looming over the mountains, giving out that mysterious vibe that really complemented that Middle Earth adventure. It was such a pleasure for taking photographs as everywhere we looked resembled a postcard!
We booked our horse riding adventure with Dart Stables and decided to go with the Ride of The Rings, which included a guided session of horse riding and a drive to see some iconic locations in the region. The booking process is pretty straightforward, there’s either a morning or afternoon session to choose from and all you need is to come dressed in sports attire; helmets and gumboots are provided.
This option is great for those with minimal to no riding experience as the horses were very tame and plodded along as though they knew the route by heart!
As we rode through the barren lands, our guides provided very informative commentary about the region, and if you ask the right questions, they wouldn’t hesitate to talk about the filming of the trilogy and other films that were shot here in the past.
Our horse ride was followed by a bumpy adventure in a Range Rover to visit Paradise, a place that had an interesting story behind its name and a visit to some locations at the Mount Aspiring National Park. The picture below was taken at an open area of forest where some battle scenes from the Fellowship of The Ring were filmed.
It was a great way to appreciate the beauty of South Island’s rugged terrain; even after seeing most parts in the few years I’ve lived there, I can never get enough of it. This experience was actually made as a gift for my birthday that came and gone in March, and I could not have asked for a better way to celebrate than to make one of my childhood wishes come true!
If this is up your alley, have a look at the website for Dart Stables, they also have other riding packages other than the Ride of The Rings for you to choose from.