Kaimanawa horses
Image: Kimber Brown | ©

Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


More than 200 homes are required to meet this year’s desired muster target. With progress to date, the rehoming groups are hopeful that all places for horses required will be filled.

Date:  16 March 2021

Department of Conservation Operations Manager Dave Lumley says rehoming of as many horses as possible is an important part of a successful muster.

“Ideally all horses would be adopted, as was the case in 2018 and 2019, however we know it’s a real challenge for the groups to find so many suitable homes.”

The number of horses to be removed was confirmed late February after the annual aerial survey. “With the herd in such good condition the reproduction rate is up at around 25% per year” Mr Lumley says.

The population has risen to nearly double the recommended number with no muster held in 2020 due to COVID-19.

“A herd greater than 300 not only impacts on the fragile environment and the condition of the horses but also increases the risk of horse migration towards SH1/the Desert Road and the related public safety concerns.”

All mustered horses that are fit for travel on a truck will be rehomed, but any horses deemed medically unfit by a vet, will be euthanised under vet supervision.

The Department of Conservation would like to acknowledge the continued commitment and effort of the two rehoming groups Kaimanawa Heritage Horses and Kaimanawa Wild Horse Preservation Society in finding suitable homes for these horses.

The muster is now held on an annual basis. This allows DOC to manage the herd at the sustainable level of 300 horses within the Waiouru Military Training Area, as recommended by the Kaimanawa Wild Horse Advisory Group (KWHAG).

This number allows for the horses in the herd to maintain best condition and protects the fragile ecosystems, unique to the Moawhango Ecological Zone.

The unique tussock grassland where the horses roam contains threatened plants, including at least 16 species in the New Zealand Threat Classification System, some of which are found nowhere else in the world.

Many of these plants occur in habitats that can sustain very little disturbance from horses.

Apply for rehoming

Contact the following for information and applications on rehoming a Kaimanawa wild horse.

Kaimanawa Heritage Horses Welfare Society

Kaimanawa Heritage Horses Welfare Society website
Email: muster@kaimanawaheritagehorses.org

Sue Rivers
Phone: +64 27 223 1637

Michele Haultain
Phone: +64 27 431 8082

Marilyn Jenks
Phone: +64 21 933 129

Kaimanawa Wild Horse Preservation Society

Sharyn Boness
Phone: +64 27 457 2040
Email: kaimanawawhps@gmail.com

Background Information

The Kaimanawa Horse Management Plan has three core objectives:

  • to ensure the welfare of the horses is dealt with appropriately,
  • to promote the sustainability of the natural features and ecosystems of the Moawhango Ecological District, with respect to Kaimanawa wild horse impacts; and
  • to manage the Kaimanawa wild horse herd at a sustainable level

The Kaimanawa Wild Horse Advisory Group provides advice to the Department of Conservation on implementing the management plan.  It consists of representatives from New Zealand Defence Force, DOC, Kaimanawa Heritage Horses, Kaimanawa Wild Horse Preservation Society, Ngati Rangi, RNZSPCA, Forest & Bird, NZ Veterinary Association and adjoining landowners.

Kaimanawa Heritage Horses (KHH) is a charitable society run by a volunteer group of passionate horse people; dedicated to the care and welfare of Kaimanawa horses both domestically and in the wild. KHH are advocates for the horses and work closely with DOC and other interested groups on the welfare and future of the Kaimanawa horses in the wild. Prior to each muster the group search for suitable homes and complete home-checks to place as many horses as possible. KHH actively support our members and their domestic Kaimanawa horses through our Welfare team, Area Reps, magazine, education and training, Annual Shows and Ribbon Days. Member generosity through membership and donations, is the group’s primary funding source.

Kaimanawa Wild Horse Preservation Society (KWHPS) was formed in April 1994 to promote the preservation and protection of the Kaimanawa Wild Horses both in the wild and domesticity. Its vision is to create public awareness to the plight of the Wild Kaimanawa Horse Herd and to promote the versatility of the horses being brought into captivity. KWHPS actively support all members, Kaimanawa owners and prospective owners through our dedicated committee. KWHPS currently sponsor Kaimanawa rings at two National Breed shows, ring sponsorship at 6 other National A&P shows and Rider sponsorship.  KHWPS primary funding source is through membership and donations.


For media enquiries contact:

Email: media@doc.govt.nz

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