The hills of Kereru Farm will echo to the clip clop of many hooves this weekend, as a two-day horse trek takes in the sights of the area.
Alongside the trekkers will be Levin-based grandmother of four Trudi Thomas-Morton, who is in training to ride in the Mongol Derby - said to be the world's longest, toughest horse race - in August this year.
The trek - on the Hales family's Weber farm - is to raise funds for international charity Cool Earth . . . as part of the conditions of Trudi's Mongol Derby entry.
Riders who wish to compete in the international event must first have their application approved - only 42 riders can compete each year - and then they not only have to pay their US$13,000 ($18,600) entry fee, but also raise $2000 for the derby's chosen charity - which this year is Cool Earth, an international charity working to halt rainforest destruction.
Trudi has trekked all over the Tararua region and competed in CTR rides and endurance events on her horses, but the Mongol Derby, she says, is a long way out of her comfort zone.
And that's the point, she says.
"I like to challenge myself. The race is 1000km across the Mongol Steppe on small, feisty, tough, equine missiles which don't always go where you aim them – in under 10 days.
"It's based on the Chinggis Khaan's postal system which was used to relay messages at speed from the furthest corners of the empire."
Riders are mounted on native Mongol horses, and change horses every 40km. They stay with the local herders or camp under the stars.
To stand a chance of finishing, the riders have to balance survival skills and horsemanship. They must endure the elements, semi-wild horses as well as unfamiliar food and terrain.
"I've been warned there's a lot of boiled mutton on the menu," Trudi laughs, "But I'm keen to embrace the local food and culture as part of the whole adventure."
While the horses are in training in Mongolia, riders all over the world are also training hard for the event.
They have to be fit, lightweight and are only allowed to carry 5kg of equipment.
A typical week of training for Trudi includes three sessions of weights and cardio at the gym, one session with her personal trainer, a Pilates class and three horse rides of between 10-40km each.
All this and she works a fulltime job and looks after her lifestyle block and a horde of livestock.
"Every two weeks between now and when I leave in August my exercise programme will increase and then in June and July my riding programme will need to be doubled," she says.
Trudi says her mantra throughout the hard training has been "the pain won't last forever" while the achievement and memories will be something to treasure.
"I feel very lucky to have this opportunity, and while doing this incredible challenge for myself my fundraising and my personal financing goes to help the people of Mongolia and the global environment."
There are still a few spaces left on this weekend's Kereru Farm Trek:
• Day One. Ride out 9am:
Five to six hours on farmland and through bush. All tracked though some gravel, so shoes or boots recommended. Awesome views of the ocean.
• Day Two. Ride out 9am:
Four hours through deer farm and forestry to Wahi falls and back to base through farmland.
• No Frills: Sleep in your floats or trucks and BYO food and drink.
• Organisers will provide: A woolshed for alternative accommodation, the local hall which has cooking facilities, a portable loo or two, paddocking for your horses.
• Riders need to bring: Hay or feed for horses, appropriate clothing, food, drink, nibbles and utensils for all meals.
• Cost: $50 Saturday, $30 Sunday, $70 for both. Registration is essential by email, PM, text or phone (evenings please) to Trudi. Email: email@example.com, phone: 0274-467-526.