Peter Karena doesn't get sore from sitting on a saddle too much – he gets sore from not sitting on a saddle enough.
That's a good thing, because the Hawke's Bay horse breeder and trekking company owner is going to be spending a lot of time on a horse looking at the South Island over the next four or five months.
Mr Karena, his 13-year-old son Llewelyn, German friend Norbert Gunther and eight horses arrived in Picton on Sunday to begin a months-long trek around the South Island.
A Koromiko man offered the group his paddock to camp in until they start heading south today or tomorrow, hopefully through the Molesworth.
The two men were at the Department of Conservation [DOC] office in Picton yesterday trying to get permission to travel through the station, which is closed to the public in winter.
DOC have told them they will ask the station manager for special permission to allow them through, Mr Karena said.
If that doesn't work they'll take the coastal route, but after that they have no particular plans, he said.
"We just want to ride around the South Island. I know nothing about the South Island."
While the scenery will be different, life in the saddle and out in the bush is normal for Mr Karena, who breeds, breaks and treks horses for a living and lives in a teepee with no power near the Tukituki River, east of Waipukurau.
"This is quite a natural thing for me ... I get sore if I'm out of the saddle too much."
His business is closed during the winter months, so he usually uses the time to break in young horses.
The South Island trek will serve as both a holiday and a chance to break the young horses he has brought on the trip, he said.
For Mr Gunther, it is an opportunity for the fourth-generation professional photographer to gather material for a book.
As for Llewelyn, he will also be busy with a reading list and keeping up with school work via email.
"He's already missed about three months of school this year because he was in Europe for the movie, but he's still top of his class," Mr Karena said proudly about the eldest of his six children.
The movie is This Way of Life, a documentary shot over four years about Mr Karena, his family and their alternative way of life.
The documentary has won selection at international film festivals in Australia, the United States, Canada and Europe since its release last year.
Mr Karena said preparations for the South Island journey began in December.
He has made all their gear, including new pack saddles for the horses, a tent and a wood stove built out of an old gas cylinder.
The group are carrying enough food for two weeks, but also plan to supplement their diet by hunting and fishing along the way.
- The Marlborough Express