On Thursday 24th May, the yards were set up and a meeting for all concerned with this year’s muster was held at Waiouru. Department of Conservation staff, musterers, KWHPS and KHH representatives, observers, army personnel, vets and the helicopter pilots attended the briefing. The spokesperson for the army pointed out the dangers of un-exploded ammunition and ordinances in the Ranges. Tim Gilberston, from DoC, ran through the department’s plan for the muster.
The next day everyone assembled and entered the Ranges at 8am, meeting at the yards. Two helicopters (an R22 and a Hughes 269) were used and these flew directly to the first horses to be mustered. Over the morning several groups of horses were brought in. Due to wind there was a brief break over lunch. Once the wind had settled, more horses were brought in. At the end of the first day approximately 120 horses had been mustered into the yards. They had been sorted into separate groups of foals, yearlings, stallions and mares (plus nine mare/foal combinations). These horses spent the night in the yards.
On Saturday the same procedure was followed. Due to frost and low cloud the helicopters could only bring horses some of the way into the yards. Worried about losing them in the fog, the pilots left them nearby and waited for conditions to clear. Once the cloud had lifted the helicopters went back and herded the horses in. Over the day they brought the balance of the horses into the yards, a total of 191.