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Are There Horses In New Zealand?

New Zealand is a beautiful country with some of the most stunning landscapes in the world. It is also home to a wide variety of animals, including native birds and marine life. But one of the most iconic animals of the country is horses. Are there horses in New Zealand? This article will answer this question in detail by examining the history of horses in New Zealand, the current horse population, and the role of horses in New Zealand today.

History of Horses in New Zealand

The introduction of horses to New Zealand dates back to the late 18th century when the first horses were brought to the country by European settlers. The Maori people, the native people of New Zealand, had a long history of trading and interacting with Europeans, and it is believed that the first horses to arrive in New Zealand were gifts from the British Royal Navy.

These early horses were used primarily for transportation and were also used to help the Maori people hunt wild animals. Over time, more horses were imported to New Zealand, and by the 19th century, they were being used in a variety of activities, including farming, logging, and recreational activities such as racing and eventing.

Current Horse Population in New Zealand

Today, the horse population in New Zealand is estimated to be around 200,000. This includes both domesticated horses, which are used for a variety of activities, and wild horses, which can be found in certain areas of the country.

Of the domesticated horses, the majority are thoroughbreds, which are used for racing and other high-performance events. There are also a significant number of standardbred horses, which are used for harness racing, and a smaller number of draft horses, which are used for agricultural work and transportation.

Role of Horses in New Zealand Today

Horses continue to play an important role in New Zealand today. The racing industry is a major contributor to the economy and the most popular sport in the country. Horse racing events take place all over New Zealand, from the largest cities to the smallest towns, and attract large crowds of spectators.

In addition to racing, horses are also used for a variety of recreational activities, such as trail riding, show jumping, and eventing. Horses are also used in the agricultural industry, with many farmers using horses to help with the day-to-day running of their farms.

Horse Breeding in New Zealand

Horse breeding is an important part of the horse industry in New Zealand. The country’s horse breeding industry is centred around thoroughbreds, with many of the country’s top breeders focusing on producing high-performance racehorses. The breeding industry has also produced a number of successful show jumpers, eventers, and draft horses.

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Horse Welfare in New Zealand

The welfare of horses in New Zealand is taken very seriously, and there are a number of organisations dedicated to ensuring that the horses are well cared for. The New Zealand Racehorse Owners Association (NZROA) is the governing body for the racing industry, and they are responsible for setting and enforcing rules and regulations related to the welfare of racehorses.

The New Zealand Equine Health and Welfare Council (NZEHWC) is responsible for the welfare of all horses in New Zealand, and they are dedicated to providing education, resources, and support for horse owners. The council also works with the government to ensure that all horses in the country are properly cared for.

Horse Racing in New Zealand

Horse racing is one of the most popular sports in New Zealand, and there are a number of major race meetings that take place throughout the year. The two biggest racing events in the country are the New Zealand Cup and the New Zealand Derby, which are both held at Ellerslie Racecourse in Auckland.

The New Zealand Cup is the biggest race in the country, and it attracts a large crowd of spectators each year. The race is run over two miles and is open to three-year-old and older horses. The New Zealand Derby is the second biggest race in the country and is a Group 1 race for three-year-old colts and fillies.

Horse Shows in New Zealand

In addition to racing, there are also a number of horse shows that take place in New Zealand each year. The Royal New Zealand Show, which is held annually in Christchurch, is the largest show in the country and attracts competitors from all over the world. The show includes classes for all disciplines, including show jumping, dressage, eventing, and more.


In conclusion, horses are an integral part of New Zealand, both in terms of the country’s history and its current culture. Horses can be found all over New Zealand, from the racing industry to the agricultural industry, and they play an important role in the country’s economy.

The welfare of horses in New Zealand is taken very seriously, and there are a number of organisations dedicated to ensuring that horses are well cared for. From racing to shows, horses are an important part of life in New Zealand, and they are sure to remain so for many years to come.