After 40 years of the Whangārei Pony Club's famous week-long Whananaki horse trek being held, there are still some familiar faces around.

Families of two and three generations were among the 55 riders who set out on Sunday, crossing the Whananaki estuary to the Carson/Harmon-owned property where the group will spend a week until they return home.

While out on the large farming block, the group will engage in several activities ranging from games to horse and rider triathlons as well as having nightly meetings, to reflect on the days been and plan the days ahead.

"It's great for the kids, the atmosphere is so different to riding in a paddock at home so it's great for us that the owners offer what they have so that we can use it," camp mother and co-trek organiser Leonie Gibbons said.

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Trek legend Pete Kristensson, who has led the trek for more than three decades, guides the crew down the road. Photo / Karen Newton
Trek legend Pete Kristensson, who has led the trek for more than three decades, guides the crew down the road. Photo / Karen Newton

The trek ended with a shared dinner in the Whananaki hall with past and present members, together with the landowners, recalling memories from treks of the past.

Gibbons has taken part in the trek for the past 26 years and this year she rode alongside her daughter Shannon Tonner and her 9-year-old granddaughter Ellie Gibbons.

"It's so special to me to be able to do this with my family," she said.

"I was thinking I might chuck it in and pass the reins over to someone else but now with my family into it, I don't think I'm going anywhere, any time soon."

Trek leader Pete Kristensson, who has been a part of the event for more than three decades, rode out with his daughter Shayla Gray and his 6-year-old granddaughter Eva Gray. Club member Kelly Newton also rode with her two daughters Abby Johnson-Newton, nine, and Shay Johnson-Newton, 7.

From left: Pete Kristensson with family Eva Gray and Shayla Gray, Leonie Gibbons with family Shannon Tonner and Ellie Gibbons and Kelly Newton with daughters Abby and Shay Johnson-Newton.
From left: Pete Kristensson with family Eva Gray and Shayla Gray, Leonie Gibbons with family Shannon Tonner and Ellie Gibbons and Kelly Newton with daughters Abby and Shay Johnson-Newton.

"It's just something cool that we can give our riders something like this instead of them sitting on the couch in front of a computer," Gibbons said.

"So many riders with horses don't have big farms so having the experience to trek like this and stay at the beach is so beneficial."

Past treks had been much more popular with more than 180 horses attending on occasion. Other clubs such as the Hunt Club would take the children out for mock hunts, while other endurance and cross country riders would give the group an experience they wouldn't forget.

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Gibbon said although it was fun to remember the trek in its heyday, all of the memories mattered little compared with the joy the current members get out of the trip.

"At the end of the day, it's not about how many are there, it's about those that do go, having an absolute ball and they do get so much out of it.

"From the beginning of the week to the end, you watch their confidence just boom and they form massive friendships with each other."

The group will return from the site at the end of the week.