Thursday 26 March 2015

Waiheke Horse Tours: do it!

Today I sat where Tom Cruise has sat, wearing Orlando Bloom's boots. Me with the boots, that is, not Tom - not that he would have made a fuss about wearing them if he'd had to, he's a pretty amenable chap by all accounts. He's got only one pace, though, I was told: fast. Fortunately, Felix is more adaptable (though he did begin by collapsing onto the ground when Steve was riding him during the initial briefing - it's his party trick).
Ok, so I went out today with Steve Old on one of his Waiheke Horse Tours, along with a couple of Swedish girls, and we had lunch at Poderi Crisci, which is an Italian vineyard on the island that has the rare distinction these days of using corks in its bottles (because they export to Italy where they're old school). I knew Steve already, from his Great New Zealand Trek days, and I'd met Felix then too, though I didn't get to ride him on the trek. Instead Steve arranged an eager grey thoroughbred called Banjo for me, who spent the whole 200km straining to be in front, please.

Felix was much better behaved, with none of the diva behaviour you might expect of a veteran of The Last Samurai, The Hobbit and several other big movies (amongst lots of other interesting stuff, Steve has been animal wrangler on many movies here and overseas, mainly horses but also pigs, geese, goats, rats - you name it.) Instead Felix walked out nicely along private roads, tracks through the bush, and across paddocks. It was lovely, and there was plenty of opportunity then, and over lunch, to encourage Steve to gossip about the movies and the actors (Orlando thought he could do anything, and then ended up screaming like a girl. And Ian McEwan had to be taught how to ride a pig. And the ponies that the little people had to ride in The Hobbit didn't look pony-ish enough for Peter Jackson, and had to wear padded shaggy onesies that were so hot they had to train fans on them.)
Steve himself was riding a stallion, impressive enough in itself, but Trappeur is a grey Percheron with a shaggy mane and tail and terrific bearing, and also starred in The Hobbit as Bard's mount, and he was quite something to behold. So I didn't really pay that much attention to the scenery - but the Swedes were impressed; and thanks to Antonio we did all enjoy our lunches of lamb and then chocolate fondant, with a glass of crisp rosé.
It was a lovely thing to do, and I recommend it, even if you're not a rider (one of the others wasn't) - Steve and Felix will look after you, and Antonio will reward you for your bravery.


the queen said...

Lead guitarist of BNL is in NZ this week. He's posted photos of parachuting and visiting hobbit movie locales.

TravelSkite said...

Yeah, we get a steady stream of big-name visitors, mostly slipping through under the radar and just being themselves. Hope he's having a good time!


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