The Department of Conservation (DoC) is working with two groups to find homes for around 150 Kaimanawa wild horses as the yearly muster is drawing close.
This year, a total of 206 horses need to be removed from the Kaimanawa Ranges in the central North Island to bring the total number down to 300, according to DoC district operations manager Dave Lumley.
Reducing the numbers is needed to keep the horses' habitat in good shape, Lumley said.
"A herd greater than 300 not only impacts on the fragile environment and the condition of the horses but also increases the risk of horse migration towards SH1/the Desert Road and the related public safety concerns."
He said the department was relying on two wild horse rehoming groups - Kaimanawa Heritage Horses Welfare Society and Kaimanawa Wild Horse Preservation Society - to find homes for as many horses as possible.
He said no culling has been done for several years and it was not the plan this year either, and those which could not be rehomed would be left to roam.
"We along with the horse rehoming groups will rehome as many horses as we can and at this stage, we won't muster any more than we can rehome," Lumley said.
"The problem we have now is that we were due to have this muster at the same time of year last April, we couldn't undertake the muster due to level 4 lockdown and that has led us to this unfortunate situation where we now have too many horses."
The muster was scheduled for Anzac weekend, Lumley said.
Kaimanawa Wild Horse Preservation Society chair Sharyn Boness called for people interested to apply.
She said taking on a wild horse was not easy but support and information packs would be provided to help them prepare.
"Once they contact us we're sending out the information pack which is all about the horses coming in, what you need to go through, the facilities that you need, previous handling, all about the transportation and about the heavy worm burden."
Clarification: When this story was first published it stated horses that could not be homed would be culled. DoC has clarified that it has no plans to cull any of the wild herd this year, apart from infirm or ill animals or those that stray onto State Highway 1, a problem which is not common.