The largest group of the muster - 35 horses brought into the yards by expert helicopter muster pilots
Image: DOC

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


170 Kaimanawa wild horses have been successfully re-homed following the weekend’s muster from the Waiouru Military Training Area.

Date:  17 April 2018

A total of 175 were mustered, however, five horses were deemed unsuitable for adoption by the veterinarian and had to be euthanised on site.

Two dedicated not-for-profit groups had the mammoth task of finding homes for the horses; Kaimanawa Wild Horse Preservation Society placed 13 horses and Kaimanawa Heritage Horses re-homed 157.

A month out from the muster only around 60 horses had homes, but remarkably the application total came in at over 270 with Kaimanawa Heritage Horses receiving a massive influx of applications in March after the annual population survey result of 621, showing there were 321 horses too many within the range.

The re-homing total applications is a record number in the history of wild horse re-homing.

However logistically the group can only re-home a maximum 160 horses from one muster so DOC and Kaimanawa Heritage Horses are planning a second operation for the last week of May 2018 to muster and re-home a further 150 horses.

DOC Central Plateau Operations Manager Dave Lumley described it as a great outcome.

“This is the result of a big effort by both horse advocacy groups – Kaimanawa Heritage Horses and Kaimanawa Wild Horse Preservation Society – and demonstrates the value of our Kaimanawa Wild Horse Advisory Group in working together towards positive solutions.”

“We’d also like to thank the public for supporting the work of both re-homing groups,” Mr Lumley said.

The muster is held every two years by the Department of Conservation 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. This allows horses in the herd to maintain best condition and protects the fragile ecosystems unique to the Moawhango Ecological zone.

The advisory group, which provides advice to DOC on implementing the management plan, comprises representatives from DOC, New Zealand Defence Force, Kaimanawa Heritage Horses, Kaimanawa Wild Horse Preservation Society, Ngati Rangi, RNZSPCA, Forest & Bird, NZ Veterinary Association and adjoining landowners.

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


Dave Lumley, DOC Operations Manager Central Plateau

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