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River Valley Blog
What has Changed in 27 Years of Rafting?
The other day I (Brian) turned 55 years old. Bit of a milestone in some ways I suppose. 55 years old and still on the river. Is that a good thing?
I guided my first Grade 5 rafting trip in 1986, but went on my first rafting trip in 1979, or was it 1978? That is 27 years of guiding on the Rangitikei River.
I sometimes get asked, "Do you get sick of it?". To be honest, I don't get sick of being on the river. To me it is a magical place, ever changing, ever the same. However as I have got older, I don't welcome the responsibility of customers in a raft on the Grade 5 section quite so readily. With this in mind you will see me more often taking the photos or being the safety boater.
Maybe I just cannot grow up.
What Has Changed Over The Years?
To my mind the three biggest areas of change are:
** Guide skill levels are so much higher than 25 years ago. Today's guides are true professionals.
** Equipment is so much better. Not only with the development of self bailing rafts, but also what customers wear. Life jackets fit better and there is whole range of good gear to keep people warm.
** The last change is how mainstream an adventure activity rafting now is. Gone are the days of it being a fringe pursuit for adventurers. Now our customers are everyday people.
What Has Not Changed Over The Years?
The smiles on peoples faces when they get to their first rapid, the excitement you can see they are experiencing running a rapid, the look of wonder as you float through a beautiful river canyon.
These things have not changed.
Do I Still See Myself On The River in 5 Years Time When I am 60?
The short answer is yes, if the team will still have me! I especially love multi day river trips which I think are very much an under rated adventure activity - especially in New Zealand. On these trips I get to row a gear boat and introduce people to the fun and adventure of spending days rafting and camping out. There are few things better to do in life.
See you on the river.
Posted by Brian Megaw on 15th June, 2013 | Comments | Trackbacks | Permalink
Tags: White water rafting, New Zealand, River Valley Lodge, Taihape, Rangitikei River, Grade 5 rafting, overnight rafting trips
Mutli Day Rafting Trip Dates Released For 2013 - 2014
Into almost mid June now and winter time.
However you have to have winter before you can have Spring, and mid to late Spring is when we start spending nights camping out on a river bank again.
We realise how much planning can go into organising time off and coordinating dates with family and friends.
With this in mind we have now released the set dates for our mutli day rafting trips for the 2013 to 2014 summer.
These trips include:
Multi day rafting trips are a fantastic way to explore a river or have an adventure holiday. Our selection above offers wilderness, moderate white water rapids, beautiful scenery, and of course all are accompanied by great food.
- Fantail Canyon - two days on river, one night camping, one night at River Valley Lodge
- Mokai Canyon - three days on river, two nights camping, one night at River Valley Lodge
- Rangitikei River Explorer - four days on the river, three nights camping, one night at River Valley Lodge
- Rangitikei River Headwaters Expedition - four days on the river, three nights camping, two nights at River Valley Lodge - this is a heli rafting trip
- Mountains to Vineyard - two days on the river, one night camping, one night at River Valley Lodge - this trip is on the Ngaruroro River
If none of our dates suit your schedule, contact us as chances are we can organise a departure just for your group (minimum numbers may apply).
Now is the time to start organising what will be one of the best things you did all summer.
Posted by Brian Megaw on 10th June, 2013 | Comments | Trackbacks | Permalink
Tags: New Zealand, White water rafting, adventure holidays, overnight rafting trips
20 Kms of Rangitikei River Protection
Stoat Traps under construction for the Rangitikei River at a Department of Conservation workshopA few months ago we blogged that we had placed our first Stoat traps around the Lodge and grounds.
We had purchased these traps as part of a long term commitment to pest control. Introduced pest mammals such as rats, stoats, ferrets, weasels and possums have been devastating on native New Zealand bird life. In fact, New Zealand has had one of the highest extinction rates in the world. Our native flora and fauna evolved without these sorts of pests and were singularly ill equipped to survive when they arrived.
The only solution is to kill the pests and give the native bird, plant and animal life a chance.
Our trapping initiative came to the attention of the Department of Conservation who proposed a joint approach and a way bigger target area to be protected. In fact their proposal is for the traps to eventually cover over 20 kms of river, from the put on of the Grade 5 whitewater rafting section to the takeout on the Awesome Scenic Adventure.
20kms is a big call, however we have agreed to it on the assumption that it will tie up two guides for two days per month, for 9 months of the year.
We anticipate placing the traps (which will all be GPS recorded), down the river in early Spring.
What Are We Going To Get Out Of This?Imagine sitting outside on a summer's evening at River Valley Lodge, or camping on a riverbank on a multi day rafting trip, and hearing the call of Kiwi. A sound that has not been heard here for half a century.
Imagine rafting down either of these sections of river that we will protect and rather than seeing only the occasional Whio or Blue Duck, but instead seeing them in reasonable numbers everyday.
We think that is worth doing.
Posted by Brian Megaw on 1st June, 2013 | Comments | Trackbacks | Permalink
Tags: White water rafting, River Valley Lodge, Rangitikei River, conservation
What Do I Bring On My Rafting Trip?
A whitewater rafting trip is a great adventure to partake in over the summer. On a hot summer day there is nothing better to do than to sit in a raft and take on the roaring waters as you get splashed in the sun. In order to have an enjoyable experience for the whole duration of the trip, you have to know what to bring on the rafting trip.
First, let’s start with what you do not want to bring on a rafting trip. Valuables that you cannot stand getting wet should be left somewhere safe. This can include your wallet, car keys, cell phones, expensive cameras, or any clothes that you find of value to you. These things will get wet or you might lose them and nobody wants to be responsible for that.
What you should bring depends on the length of your trip. If it is a half day or whole day trip, you are going to want a change of clothes and a towel for when you get back from your trip. Wear a comfortable shirt that is going to keep you warm, and bring a long sleeve shirt in case the weather gets cold. Wear comfortable shorts or a bathing suit if that’s what you’re most comfortable in. Also wear shoes that will stay on your feet and can manage to get wet without sliding off your feet. A hat is going to help protect your eyes and your face from the harsh sun. If you wear glasses, put a strap on them that can go around your neck so you don’t lose them.
(Important Note: This is a guest bloggers contribution. Few rafting trips in New Zealand operate without clients in helmets and wetsuits. Some other suggestions may also be more appropriate to the USA)
Bring sunscreen and bug repellant, especially if you are in a warmer climate. If the river water is not safe for human consumption, you will also want a water bottle that is full to keep you hydrated for the whole length of the trip. A waterproof camera will be great to capture some of the moments during your trip and if you lose it or get it wet it won’t be a huge loss. Some money will be necessary for any souvenirs, photographs and to give your guide a gratuity.
For overnight trips, bring extra shoes and a warm jacket. You will also want a change of clothes that will keep you warm during the night. Any toiletries and medications that you need will be necessary as well. Waterproof bags will come handy to keep all of your belongings together, dry and afloat for the duration of the trip.
After you have packed efficiently and have all of the necessities you will be ready for your whitewater rafting trip. Keep in mind that many rafting outfitters will include a wet suite, helmet, life jacket and sometimes other clothes to keep you warm and dry. Ask the outfitter before you go what is included so you do not over or under pack.
About the Author
Royal Gorge rafting company, American Adventure Expeditions is pleased to bring you this article on what do I bring on my rafting trip? They do white water rafting in Colorado on the Arkansas River. If you are interested in learning more about them, check out their website.
Posted by on 24th May, 2013 | Comments | Trackbacks | Permalink
Tags: White water rafting, Grade 5 rafting, adventure holidays, overnight rafting trips
What Could Be A Better Way To Spend Queen's Birthday Weekend Than A Horsemanship Clinic?
Ken Dromgool is a well known New Zealand horse trainer.
Ken grew up with horses, riding his first horse at the age of two, and breaking his first horse in when he was 12. This was part of a family tradition of working with and breeding horses.
Over the last three decades Ken has spent time training and working with American Ray Hunt, one of the founders of the way of working with horses now called natural horse training, and also trained with Australian Merv Kildey, who Ken gives much of the credit to for being where he is today.
Over the three days of Queens Birthday weekend, (1st, 2nd, 3rd June) Ken will be holding a horsemanship clinic at the sand arena at River Valley Lodge. Participants can book in for all three days or just one day at a time.
Fees are $140 per day for active participants, or $50 per day for spectators. Accommodation is available at River Valley Lodge (this is extra)
If you wish to be a participant but do not have your own horse, or cannot bring that horse, then River Valley Stables have a limited number of horses that may be suitable. Contact Nicola Megaw about this.
Click this link for the Registration form for this Dromgool Horsemanship Clinic
Posted by Brian Megaw on 20th May, 2013 | Comments | Trackbacks | Permalink
Tags: New Zealand, River Valley Lodge, Horse riding adventures, horse training, natural horsemanship
Risk Comes With The Territory
On Friday I attended a mini conference entitled "The Great Adventure".
The Great Adventure was a gathering of adventure operators within the New Zealand Tourism Industry.
The day opened with an address by the Prime Minister, John Key, with following addresses by a variety of people on a variety of subjects. Much of these addresses were centered around the recently completed Adventure Review and the legislative changes that were following on from that review.
Probably the thing that stood out most for me was the comment about how few other jobs, excluding the military, took people into harms way on a daily basis and managed that level of risk. How many other people deal with that level of care?
If we make a mistake government agencies and the media are down on us like a ton of bricks.
Why do we do it?
I know why we do it.
When you see the look on someones face that has just participated in or seen something that they could only imagine. When you feel and share their excitement and sense of accomplishment.
That's what makes it worth it.
What adventure guides do is incredibly special and worth doing.
Posted by Brian Megaw on 12th May, 2013 | Comments | Trackbacks | Permalink
Tags: White water rafting, New Zealand, Horse riding adventures, Grade 5 rafting, adventure guiding
It comes that time when every website needs a bit of a facelift - well at least the home page needs a facelift.
Having given it a great deal of thought, we felt that the page needed to be more visual, and easier to navigate from.
Luckily our friend Arnie at American Whitewater Expeditions had also been doing some work on a site upgrade. So while we cannot say that what we have come up with is totally original, we think what we have ended up with looks and works great, and has a nice "River Valley" feel to it.
However that's what we think, but it is what you think that really counts. Drop us an email or Facebook comment if you have any thoughts on the changes.
Posted by Brian Megaw on 7th May, 2013 | Comments | Trackbacks | Permalink
Tags: New Zealand, White water rafting, Horse riding adventures, Taihape, Rangitikei River
Harvesting The Pumpkin Patch
We just recently had the first decent frost of this Autumn. Not a real big frost, but enough to burn the leaves of the pumpkins in the pumpkin patch.
Seems a funny thing to write about for an adventure company, a pumpkin patch.
However, in reality a pumpkin patch is central to the River Valley style of experience.
River Valley Lodge has it's own extensive organic vegetable garden which, especially over the summer, provides much of the fresh produce used in the Lodge kitchens. This focus on growing our own vegetables is part of the River Valley way of doing things.
A way that includes a very natural way of training horses and a grazing system for those horses that tries to emulate conditions more similar to the wild.
Getting back to food, and pumpkins, Lodge meals are produced fresh on site. The style is generally country - lots of roasts - but with some added flair from our Chefs, Miranda and Melissa.
Changes for the future?
None really, except next year we will grow even more pumpkins!
Posted by Brian Megaw on 30th April, 2013 | Comments | Trackbacks | Permalink
Tags: food and wine, country food, Lodge meals, New Zealand
Watch Out For The White Masked Robber
The White Faced heron - aka Matuka-moana, blue heron, blue craneWe had a visitor in the garden several weeks ago.
He came in, alighted on a wooden pergola and seemed quite a friendly chap. I quickly got my camera and took a few shots. There he was clad in his blue feathered coat and white mask, looking as innocent a new born babe.
But this fellow was not innocent at all. No not at all.
In fact ever since him and his extended family permanently set up house in New Zealand, having originally come in from Australia in the 1940s, they have been involved in illegal fishing. Plundering really.
While I thought he was simply being a friendly chap, what he was in fact doing was eyeing up the gold fish in the goldfish pond. He wasn't governed by some quota. He intended to eat the lot.
And that was what he went and did. He plundered every last gold fish in the gold fish pond - and there were a lot of gold fish.
So next time you see this friendly good looking fellow, this beautiful bird as he takes flight, slowly spreading his wings, his legs trailing behind him, do not tarry, go straight home and cover your gold fish pond.
Posted by Brian Megaw on 22nd April, 2013 | Comments | Trackbacks | Permalink
Tags: new zealand birds, fishing, conservation