Wānaka Trail Ride delivers perfect riding conditions and raises $22,000 for local schools

More than 520 riders descended upon Tarras on Saturday for the seventh annual Wānaka Trail Ride, with riders reporting some of the best track conditions the event has seen in years.

The event raised approximately $22,000, with funds to be split between Wānaka Primary School and Montessori Children’s House Wānaka.

Covering over 100 kilometres of farmland and high country terrain, tracks catered to riders of all ages and all abilities. Early morning rain kept the dust away before the sun came out mid-morning to deliver ideal riding conditions for all.

Local Wānaka rider, Thomas Masters, praised new sections of the expert trails, which were introduced in 2021 and tweaked for this year’s ride. “There was plenty of mud and some carnage in the creek. But everyone was helping each other to get out.”

Wānaka Trail Ride is an entirely volunteer-run event, which sees all funds raised go directly to the local schools, as well as Tarras School whose volunteers run the car parking at the event and the RSA Appeal receiving $1 from every entry.

Wānaka Primary School principal Dr Wendy Bamford attended the event and was seen throughout the day serving hot food alongside the local Wanaka & Districts Lions Club, who also volunteered their time. Dr Bamford says she was immensely proud to be part of the event given the professionalism of all involved.

“The Trail Ride provides us with much-needed extra funding to spend on our school each year. This year we will use the funds to extend our landscaping project to develop playscape elements.

“I look around my school and see the many advantages the funds raised by past trail rides have provided. The Trail Ride is usually our biggest fundraiser of the year and is great in that it brings in funds from outside the school community.”

Montessori Children’s House Wānaka will put their funds towards drop-down blinds on the school’s verandah.

Anne-Marie Love, Teaching Manager at Montessori Children’s House Wānaka and Wānaka Trail Ride Sponsorships Manager, was on site all day on Saturday, helping to ensure the smooth running of the event.

“The Wānaka Trail Ride is a real community event. There are so many familiar faces, whether through Montessori or we’ve gotten to know them from riding with us over the years. Many riders come back every year.”

Riders praised the work of more than 60 volunteers who ensured riders were well organised and kept safe. Wānaka Trail Ride Committee Chair Alix Wilson said this was partly due to the high calibre of volunteers who sign up for the marshal and comms roles.

“Within our team, we have members of the police force, coast guard and former fire service officers. Most had first aid experience, and many also had first responder experience,” Wilson says.

“Most riders will tell you, if it’s not challenging, it’s not fun. With everyone having such different skill levels, we work hard to ensure we’re catering to all abilities, keeping them safe, while ensuring everyone is having fun.”

“Our tracks manager Phi Pendlebury has once again done an outstanding job of delivering an exceptional trail course.”

“Watching the young riders on the pee wee track is always a highlight. They’re our next generation of riders.”

“A lot goes into this event, and we rely on the generosity of so many. Particularly the landowners of Deep Creek Station, Lindis Peak Station and Long Gully Station. What an incredible backdrop we have to run this ride on, it’s the clincher for this event.”

The Wānaka Trail Ride team is already planning to return in 2024, promising more spectacular views, riding and atmosphere.




Want to see more photos? Check out our Facebook page for more photos from the 2023 event.

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