Welcome to High Country Horses, where a passion for adventure, a love for New Zealand’s breathtaking landscapes, and a deep-rooted commitment to providing unforgettable experiences come together. With over 30 years of tourism expertise, we’ve been proudly showcasing the beauty of Glenorchy and its iconic surroundings since our journey began in 1987.
High Country Horses is one of the original horse trekking businesses in the Wakatipu Basin, and it has been offering both experienced and beginner riders the opportunity to explore some of the finest riding country in the world since its inception. In 2004, Deana was handed the reins of High Country Horses from the Scotts, and after partnering with Duayne in 2006, transformed it into the NUMBER ONE horse trekking experience in all of New Zealand.
In 2017, tragedy struck when Deana’s husband, Duayne, lost his life in a freak accident while defending his world title during the World Marathon Jetboat Championships on the Waimakari River. This devastating loss tested our resilience and left an indelible mark on our journey. However, with Deana’s unwavering spirit, her daughter Casey’s support, and the dedication of our team, High Country Horses continued to flourish.
Our Five Day Glenorchy Back Country Ride, dedicated to Duayne’s memory, remains a testament to his vision and legacy. Every trail we ride, every campsite we visit in the Rees Valley and Paradise, stands as a tribute to him. His spirit guides us every day.
While we are the largest horse trekking business in all of New Zealand, with multiple tourism awards and recognitions under our belt, our journey is far from over. We’ve expanded our horizons, from a tiny shack and 8 horses to 2 full time bases and a herd of over 70 horses of diverse sizes, breeds, temperaments and abilities. We continue to grow and develop a range of diverse, authentic horse back adventures with something for every rider, whether you’re a seasoned equestrian or a beginner.
We have an incredible support crew made up of experienced horse trek guides, managers and grounds people from all different backgrounds and expertise to ensure you have the best possible experience in the backcountry. We’re one of the few companies that can say we have people lining up to join our team.
We’re proud Kiwis, authentic and passionate about sharing our special place with you. Our journey is one of resilience, determination, and an unwavering love for adventure.
Thank you for being a part of our story. We can’t wait to show you the magic of High Country Horses and the unparalleled beauty of Glenorchy.
Words from the boss
It has been a LONG 2.5 years but we are on the re-build. Our fantastic five day ride is back on the trails, bringing in clients from all over the world again. We have had to move the last night for this season (22-23) with our accommodation being placed at THE HEADWATERS ECO LODGE at CAMP GLENORCHY as the PARADISE TRUST is still slowly coming back to it’s former glory. But we will be back up there next year bringing this ride to completion.
During Covid lock downs we started a beautiful three day ride called CLOSED BORDER RIDE, and this took off with our local NZ market, so we decided to keep it as one of our permanent rides. It is pretty much booked out for this summer, which shows us that we are on to a good thing. This ride is a shortened version of five day ride but shows many of the highlighted areas. We are so thankful for the support we received with this ride as it helped us make it through!
All of our other rides are now available, although due to having to lower our horses numbers over the quieter times spaces are limited until we can get more horses on our team. We dropped from 120 horses pre-covid to just over 40 so we have some hoarding to do (I say this with a smile on my face).
Our human team this year are incredible and we are probably one of a few companies that can honestly say we have people lining up to join our crew. We have been able to pick some very experienced guides to give our clients the very best rides in the backcountry.
This summer looks very positive and within the next 12 months we should be in full swing again. On a personal note the time of quietness has been good for my soul. I moved up to Nelson to be closer to family and take some time out from ‘Duayne Country’. I worked with the Richmond Riding for the Disabled and found a little cottage on the estuary of Mapua. This gave me somewhere to put the empathy and also gave me time to work on my mental health, plus spend time with wonderful people and horses. I had a amazing crew back in Glenorchy, who cared for the horses and farm while I took time out. This proved to be the best thing I could have done for me and my recovery from Duayne’s death.
I came back into Glenorchy, with fond memories, strength in my heart and ready to hit the ground running. Prepping new staff, training and horse fitness, and making sure we were ready for our 2022/2023 summer season. My mind remembers only good times now, and his legacy has shown that many here in Glenorchy cared for him too as our landowners, tracks and accommodation has stood up to the test of time. For him, I will always be grateful!
Lastly I thank you all for supporting our company, staff and horses. We look forward to a fantastic season and seeing you soon
I have had a few years to reflect on how to put this on our website and to bring you all up to speed with my journey through with High Country Horses.
On the 15th October 2017, my life came to another big intersection in this thing called life.
Duayne was competing at the World Marathon Jetboat Championships on the Waimakari in Christchurch and a freak accident happened on the river. My husband/soulmate and partner in business lost his life.
It has taken me until now to be able to type those words, and it still makes my heart stop a beat. Casey (my daughter) came back from overseas to grieve and to help me keep the business running. Di, who had been our manager up in Paradise stepped up also and took over the reins from me as my operations manager. Between these two strong women, they allowed me time to heal and to get my head back with the horses. This was quite the process but we have come out the other side and I use Duayne’s strength every day to make good decisions.
Our beautiful Five Day Ride has been dedicated to him as every trail we ride, the campsites and cabins we stay in up the Rees Valley and Paradise are all there because of him. He will never be forgotten and his legacy will be forever in our valleys.
I have also been so fortunate to have a great community of Glenorchy behind me the whole way and HCH has carried on going from strength to strength with our Five Day Ride being fully booked from the last three years running. Our short rides have also thrived with a huge increase of overseas tourist. I managed to purchase our main farm – MID RIVERS FARM, which was probably the turning point for me as Duayne had put so much into this place moving it into a centre point for the horses and business. Life was starting to become normal again.
To the present – WOW COVID 19 – I would have never thought anything would stop tourism in NZ and throw us back to the days of just a domestic market. I have been proven wrong. HCH is in a good place though, we have just on 100 horses who are all healthy with winter feed and care already for them, our beautiful staff are all living either close too or in the farmhouse free of rent, and HCH can hold on to a majority of our staff until we are up and running again.
I hope this will happen when NZ moves into Level 2 and the ski fields open. On our website, we have updated our treks and also have a great offer there to help bring you to our farm. Once we are riding again, my next hope is that Australia and NZ will bubble together. Believe it or not but Aussie’s love our Back Country, to ride in rain forest areas, clear pure glacial-fed rivers and snow-capped mountains are just what they love.
We have all managed to stay safe and to be honest our bubble up here has been amazing. We could still ride, school horses, and enjoy our little HCH family.
I will update again as we move forward into a positive future, thinking of you all and we really look forward to having you all back in our beautiful place we call home
Since we last posted here Duayne and I have got married with our children and close friends in Paradise. We hired the whole venue. Everyone STAYED up in Paradise for the weekend. The weather held off long enough to have my dream of riding my favourite horse into the ceremony, Snoopy did me proud and got me there in one piece which was a mission riding in a wedding dress – side saddle on a western saddle. All my girls arrived in front of me in our carriage and Duayne was waiting for me in his red-band gumboots and hunter jacket. Perfect! We were the happiest couple on the planet.
After the hype of the wedding, we were straight back to business and are proud to announce that we have again moved our business to the next level. We now have the lease on a beautiful 100 acres up in Paradise which Duayne has spent the last year developing and restoring. New fencing and paddocks, a beautiful cabin and of course my contribution more horses. We have been operating up there through the last summer and the feedback has been amazing. We can now boost over 100,000 acres of riding trails and can ride a five day/four-night ride through some incredible terrain.
Casey our daughter has now left to go overseas, working in Australia, and Canada. We have a new Yard Manager Calder Houliston who comes from a racing background. Calder brings a lot of knowledge to the team with horse health, farrier experience and he is a fantastic rider as well. He joined our team at the beginning of April 2017.
We also have brought on a new manager who is full time in Paradise. Di Barkman is another Southern woman with a background in farming and management, so she was perfect for the position. Di brings the balance for both yards to work smoothly and she is also very handy on a horse also.
I am bringing on a new horse of my own, thanks to Casey finding him in Canterbury. His name is Payback, named accordingly after Duayne went out and bought a digger to develop our next piece of land! Keep an eye out for us both me on my young horse and Duayne in his digger.
Born in a small country town in Canterbury, I was brought up with sport and horses. My father was the manager for the Canterbury Crusaders and I represented Canterbury, Canterbury Country, and Mid – Canterbury in Netball at National level and was a Competitive swimmer representing Canterbury and Central Canterbury.
But horses were my passion, riding any available horse of friends and eventually got my very own horse at 8 years old. Horses were part of my life from that point onwards. Pony club, eventing and showing as a child and later on to the sport of Hunting. They say all retired eventers become hunters And it is true.
Brought up in a small farming town and headed to Glenorchy every holiday to visit my favourite place in the world was my life. Glenorchy is one of the most beautiful places on the planet and I was lucky enough to be able to ride horses and hang out on a farm, camping out and just being kids.
Tourism was where I wanted to work and I started a “Dolphin Swimming” operation in Akaroa. This was an incredible time spending twelve years showcasing the dolphins to clients and working with the Worlds smallest and one of the rarest Dolphins – Hectors Dolphin. After selling this business I then had an opportunity to manage a jet boat company in Glenorchy. I did this for two years before being offered the opportunity of purchasing HCH in 2004.
HCH is the oldest Horse Trekking business in Glenorchy as it has been running since 1987. When I took over the reins I started with 8 horses and a shed. We now boast over 50 horses with many many different breeds in the paddock. We now have spread our business into multi days rides and still Love showing clients our pristine backcountry.
A huge part of the success was finding an awesome man to be by my side. Duayne came on board in 2006 and together we have built a great friendship and business. He originates from the Central North Island coming from a family of shepherds and musterers. His knowledge of horses and the land is extensive. He came down south to work on the Routeburn Sheep Station in 1997. Duayne has a fantastic background in farming and he makes sure that all horses have food all year round. His dream has been to own a farm of his own, which we have just been able to purchase. Duayne has also worked for Dart Safaris as a commercial jetboat driver and also a digger operator. He loves to Race jet boats as a sport, having picked up two New Zealand Champion titles plus a World title last year. We set off to Monaco to pick up his trophy earlier this year and this is where he proposed marriage. We are due to marry in March 2015.
Hope you know us a little better, we are very authentic New Zealanders and can’t wait to show you around our special place.