Helicopters over the Waiouru military training area signalled the start of the biennial Kaimanawa horse muster yesterday morning.
The muster's target was around 160 horses and new homes had already been found for most.
"Fantastic result this year, with somewhere around about 150-odd homes found," Department of Conservation planner Bill Fleury said.
The muster was a "population control technique" to keep the wild horse population around 300, he said.
The helicopters acted "like sheepdogs" to herd horses into the yards in the Moawhango River valley in bands, or family groups.
"The horses come up the valley here either across the river or just up the valley, get into the yard and then they're trapped."
Three helicopters were mustering from the air and the yard was managed by a team of around 10 stockmen, DOC ranger Dave Conley said.
A vet also oversaw the sorting process before horses were sent to new homes found by Kaimanawa Heritage Horses and the Kaimanawa Wild Horse Preservation Society.
Muster day one was "stunning" and around 140 horses were rounded up without a hitch, he said.
The team was looking forward to a "nice clear morning" today so the other 30 could be brought in.
- Waikato Times