I've always loved horse riding.
My aunt put me on a horse at less than a year old, I asked to start lessons at 5, volunteered for horse caring at 13... Horses have been part of my life for as far as I can remember, and when they didn't for a while (living in Japan, then in Paris) I missed them painfully.
I've also always loved travelling.
As a kid, we use to go through France by car pretty often, as my family is spread out over the whole country, and I was a very frustrated young traveller: the car is nice for views and speed, but you don't get much of the surroundings: no smells, no bird and insect sounds, no peace and quiet of Nature. The few lunch stops on the way were only teasing if anything else.
Trips by car, bus, train or on foot, through France, Germany, the Netherlands, Scotland, England, Japan, South Korea, the U.S.A., Tunisia, Bulgaria, Istanbul... and still so many places I want to visit! And New Zealand has been at the top of the list for the last 15 years at least!
So, why not joining my two favorite activities into one?
As a teen, I used to fantasize about travelling around France on my horse, taking time to discover the countryside and its people... A fantasy which always seemed unreachable. But then, I grew up, got some confidence, learned some skills, and at one point I had no excuse anymore: the desire could become reality if I was ready to put enough energy and will in it.
That's how a horse journey of 5 months in New Zealand came up!
Why New Zealand?
New Zealand has drawn my attention from a very long time for its nature and green lands, thanks to Campion's work for a start (Aaaah, The Piano and its wild bush! And more recently Top of the Lake's amazing breth-taking scenery!!). Surprisingly, both describe a very hard land too, but that makes it all the more interesting: why and how do people survive there? I am very curious about that, and hope to get some answers through my journey.
A lot of documentaries, books and movies on the country and the Maori culture later, my desire of going there, and take the time to visit in depth (no three-week rapid road trip for me) was more solid than ever.
Moreover, from far away at least, New Zealand seems very suited for that kind of projects compared with other countries: it has no predators (apart from humans), few venimous animals (two rare spiders), no snakes, lots of horses and equine facilities, a well mapped net of trails and streams, and few roads and fences (at least on the South Island we are interested in at the moment).
The aims of the experience
- Discover New Zealand, visit it slowly, step by step
- Meet with its people
- Challenge myself
- Exchange about cultures, about horses, about life, about the environment and a sustainable way of life
New Zealand is one of the last lands to have been inhabited but is one of the most changed by human presence. In the last 30 years, the government has put in place laws to protect the land, but what do local people think about it?
I will be travelling on my horse to meet with these local people to discover their way of life, their vision about their land on shot and long term, their sustainable approach if relevant.
Will be included portraits of the people met on the way, with three paths for reflection:
- what activity you do thinking it will protect your land on short and long term?
- what do you think of the compatibility of these activities with return on investment? why?
- what do you want your children / the next generation to inherit? What activities do you do to pursue that objective?
Along the way, I will keep in mind these five mottos:
Obviously, this is the main objective of the project: dive into the landscapes on the country. It goes with beaches, mountains, hills, farmlands, forests... I will mostly stay away of reserves, as horses are big mammals who can be disturbing to the natural wild life.
I believe literature is a very interesting way of diving into a culture, its history(ies), the minds and hopes of its people. Therefore I will take with me an e-reader (light weight!) with fiction books as well as encyclopedies about New Zealand (plants and animals...).
If you have any author to advise me about, ebooks to donate, ideas of topics to read about, please do! :)
A journal will be kept on everyday basis to keep track of details about the experience. It will contain drawings, pictures, paintings, writings, testimonies, etc...
Also, I have a fiction book on the way, that I will be cointinuing during the journey.
Meeting as many as possible of local inhabitants of New Zealand, and get to know their way of life, what's important to them, their values, and learn about New Zealand's culture.
Share the French culture in return.
Please see the how to get involved section with more proposals.
The preparations of the journey and the "after coming back" events will also be written about.