Hundreds of horses, riders, wagons, walkers and cyclists rolled into Lake Hawea on Saturday at the end of Otago Goldfields Cavalcade 2019.

Warm, still conditions could not have been more perfect for the final day of the annual event.

Patron Fleur Sullivan, from Moeraki, who rode the first cavalcade, was there at the end of the 27th, but riding a helicopter rather than a horse.

More than 400 horses were involved this year and most took a turn through the centre of the Lake Hawea township on Saturday morning, as the streets were lined with several hundred spectators.


Then it was down to the domain for an afternoon of entertainment and an evening hoedown.

Cavalcade organiser Terry Davis said the event had been "a wonderful success" and the weather had "played ball".

"There was enough rain to dampen down the fire risk and it was cool enough to keep things fresh and crisp, but most of the days were beautiful and sunny."

About half the 11 trails had to change their route because of the fire risk, avoiding properties with long grass.

"It's 27 years we've been doing the cavalcade and not a fire started," Mr Davis said.

He paid tribute to more than 100 landowners for allowing the cavalcaders access.

Everyone involved with the cavalcade appreciated the benefits it brought to the region, he said.

Walkers on the Cavalcade to Lake Hawea cross the Hawea River on the last leg of their cross-country walk.
Walkers on the Cavalcade to Lake Hawea cross the Hawea River on the last leg of their cross-country walk.

"It's not a big commercial event. It's a real grassroots money-stays-in-the-community kind of a thing."


The walkers who traversed the hills around Cardrona seemed to have the best weather stories.

Jude Frazer, from Lake Hawea, said they struck "freezing cold driving rain" and fog at one point but then the sun came out, making their cold start worthwhile.

Asked if she might be back next year on a horse, Ms Frazer said "no".

"I'd rather be footsore than butt sore".

Leader Geraldine Macdougall, from Millers Flat, said they struck sleety snow on the top of the Criffel Range but that was the only problem for the 59 walkers.

Mary Kreft, from Waimumu, had a story to tell about the horse that stood on her foot, breaking two of her toes.

She was riding from the Lindis Pass with the heavy wagons when some horses got out of their enclosure one night.

"I went to catch them and she [her friend's horse] just stood right on it."

That happened last Monday, and today she plans to take her "very sore" toes to the doctor.

"There's no doctors out here in the middle of nowhere, you know."

Her toes aside, she found her 17th cavalcade "absolutely fantastic".

And, that was the phrase most in use by cavalcaders as they unsaddled their horses at the end of their trails.

Despite most getting a bit wet and a bit cold at one point, all those spoken to said they would be lining up for next year's cavalcade to Patearoa.