Kaimanawa heritage horses
Image: Kimber Brown | ©


DOC and Kaimanawa Heritage Horses are calling for experienced horse owners to rehome some of the more than 200 wild horses from the Waiouru Military Training area during this year’s annual muster.

Date:  26 March 2024

DOC manages the Kaimanawa herd at the sustainable level of 300 horses to protect the fragile ecosystems unique to the Moawhango Ecological Zone and keep the wild horses healthy.

Re-homing is coordinated by dedicated not-for-profit group Kaimanawa Heritage Horses (KHH), but the group has received very few applications for horses this year.

DOC Central Plateau Operations Manager Dave Conley says re-homing is the best outcome for both the horses and the people who love them.

“It’s a win-win for horse welfare and the environment, but only if we find enough homes, so we’re adding our voices to the call to rehome.”

The unique tussock grassland where the horses roam contains unique threatened plants, which cannot sustain disturbance from too many horses. An aerial survey last month showed the herd had increased to nearly double the recommended number of horses for the carrying capacity of the area.

“The large herd means damage to the environment, and the wild horses outstripping their food supply,” says Dave.

“A herd this size also increases the risk of horses wandering towards the Desert Road and becoming a hazard for drivers.

“The need for the muster is clear, we just hope we can find plenty of good homes for the horses.”

Kaimanawa Heritage Horses chair Carolyn Haigh agrees, saying the call for homes is urgent.

“With not long until applications close, there’s not a lot of time for interested parties to deliberate. It’s a real concern that some people may simply run out of time.

“We encourage people to contact us. Our welfare team will provide information about the rehoming process and how you can help.”

The annual muster is to be held in late April, and applications for horses are open until April 11. Prior to each muster, KHH search for suitable homes and complete home-checks to place as many horses as possible.

Interested applicants can contact Kaimanawa Heritage Horses at muster@kaimanawaheritagehorses.org or visit www.kaimanawaheritagehorses.org/muster-information

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 DOC on implementing the management plan. It consists of representatives from New Zealand Defence Force, DOC, Kaimanawa Heritage Horses, Ngati Rangi, Mokai-Patea, 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.


For media enquiries contact:

Email: media@doc.govt.nz

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