Riders are the winners of the $100,000 ESNZ Jumping investment into the two Dunstan Fiber Fresh National Equestrian Centres which have seen a new arena surface go on at Taupo and irrigation laid at McLeans Island.

Each centre received a $50,000 boost for a project that aligned with the strategic priorities of the discipline. Jumping manager Marilyn Thompson says the board has listened to the community’s wishes and invested in surfaces. Last year surveys were sent out to the membership with clear themes in the feedback placing better arenas and surfaces at the NECs in the top three priorities. 

Don Robertson at the Hampton Oval, NEC, McLeans Island


South Island convenor Don Robertson said it was a collaborative effort that saw the $350,000 irrigation system finally finished. Over the past 12 months the centre had received funds from ESNZ Jumping, South Island Jumping, ESNZ Dressage and ESNZ Eventing. “It was thanks to all of these donations that helped to facilitate the irrigation development that we undertook at the NEC,” said Mr Robertson. “It was essential that we received the support of the disciplines, otherwise the project would not have been completed.”

The irrigation project has been floating around for more than five years. The old system ran out of a 15-metre bore which was unreliable and would run out of water during the peak season when it was needed most. Post earthquakes, the water table and flow through the aquifers had changed.

“We became restricted as to where we could irrigate and the amount that we could actually put on at any one time,” said Don.

The new system has seen a new 45-metre bore put into a more reliable aquifer at a location that is far more central to the site and with the required power supply. A ring main has been installed around the facility with full sprinklers on the artificial surfaces. “This means we can water remotely at any time and is primarily designed for dust suppression.”

The Hampton Oval was extended to fit three rings, with the pop-up sprinkler system also extended meaning all the centre’s grass competition surfaces can be fully watered.

“The advantage of extending the Hampton Oval is that now we have all three main showjumping rings in the same place and it ties the jumping shows together better, making ring three part of the competition,” says Don. “The ring main extension through to the cross country means we can now water approximately 80% of the cross country area making us the only course in New Zealand where this is possible. We have also bought a travelling irrigator which is used to water the jumping warm-up areas.”

He says the investment in infrastructure is absolutely critical for the future of equestrian. “As a sport we have to be seen to be doing the best we can for the wellbeing of our horses and providing good well-watered and managed surfaces is a very important part of this. At the NEC our aim is to provide the best facilities we can not only for competition but also on our extensive training grounds.”

Plans are afoot to invest further in all-weather surfaces and new covered yarding – any new yarding in the future will be covered. The venue will play host to the Springston Trophy this year and currently hosts the National Jumping Championships. Don says they have approached eventing in the hope of hosting the 2024 National Eventing Championships.


The newly surfaced Landcorp Arena at NEC, Taupo


In Taupo, the $50,000 was used to resurface the Landcorp Arena. Convenor Wallie Niederer says the financial boost was a godsend. “The arena has been down for a number of years and was flooding,” he said. “We were going to have to put a new surface on it as the old one had worn down and running the tanker on it had formed a hard pan. We just wouldn’t have been able to do it as well without the fund.”

The arena now sports Andrew Bowen fibre and sand, the same surface as the popular indoor. As well as the ESNZ Jumping contribution, a significant contribution was received from John Cottle in the form of fibre and sand, along with a number of others who donated time and product to see the $152,293 project through.

The NEC matched the $50,000 dollar for dollar with the remainder $25,000 donated.

“This has been on the radar for two years but then COVID came along,” says Wallie. “With COVID, we lost all our major events which give us money for capital expenditure. We also had a number of private events that were going to go but didn’t so we were just going hand to mouth. COVID has put the kibosh on so much.”

They may need to top the arena up at some time in the future but Wallie says the indoor has stood the test of time and is going well. “Everyone seems to enjoy it and everyone wants to jump on the good surface in there.”

He says such investment in equestrian becomes more critical as New Zealand’s horses become more valuable. “With the standard (in dressage and showjumping) rising all the time, we need to have international standard arenas, especially for those heading offshore to compete.”

The money was the first the Taupo NEC had received from Jumping. “We have previously had money from eventing, but we are very happy with this,” said Wallie.

Dressage paid $50,000 for a warm-up arena which has a Martin Collins surface. “It is pleasing to see the disciplines taking an interest in the centre. We are always looking for ways to generate income.”

The centre also had a very generous donation from Rosemary Carter that enabled them to put the last 16 covered yards in. Next on their very long wish list is to do work on the old ablution block while the crusher dust arena also needs some work, with an ongoing need for more stables and covered yards.


Jumping Team – 23 March 2022