Is This a Summer Like No Other?

Day after day, a cloud barrier sits atop the Ruahine Ranges, a low mountain range east of River Valley Lodge. Most of the time, the rain associated with this cloud bank does not reach as far as Pukeokahu, the farming district where River Valley is situated.

misty ranges

This is our third year of the La Nina weather pattern, which is highly unusual, with La Nina patterns generally not lasting beyond two years. La Nina brings more weather from the east, including subtropical cyclonic systems and, in general, higher temperatures. Last summer was sweltering, while this summer, so far, is decidedly cooler and wetter.

Human nature being what it is, we complain when we don’t have a run of those lovely hot days that invite you to swim in the river, but we are also quick to complain when it feels too hot, and the land bakes.

At least this year, we have not experienced any very low river levels

What will the rest of summer bring?

I checked on NIWA’s website this morning. They give a broad overview of what to expect in general terms over the next three months. For us, that is higher temperatures, average rainfall, average soil moisture and average river flows. Hmmm, I’m not sure how that all stacks up as I look out the window on a decidedly cooler day with easterly winds and rain.

However, it is not only the weather that is different this summer.

This summer is the first one where, since the Covid pandemic, we have welcomed overseas travellers as well as New Zealanders. It is a nice mix, and I must acknowledge how much we enjoy hosting both groups.

This is also the first season where the changes we put in place over the pandemic have a chance to prove their worth. Those changes at the Lodge itself included a greater emphasis on our food offerings – garden to plate, fresh organically grown in our gardens where possible. We have upgraded some accommodations by adding more ensuited rooms and converting what were dorm rooms into a lovely space suitable for gatherings, workshops or yoga classes.

Talking of yoga, this and booking a massage are additional experiences you can now take at the Lodge.

Merry Christmas
Merry Christmas

For decades River Valley has been associated with white water rafting. The wet spring and summer to date have meant some excellent river flows, especially on the Grade 5 section.

However, river flows are not as critical as you may think, with rafting a lot of fun at most river levels.

Our second eight day horse trek of this season is presently out and about.

Our policy change to only offering rides for riders (no novice or beginner riders) is paying dividends in more responsive horses and riders getting a better experience.

River Valley Ride 2023
Merry Christmas

We have done a few tweaks around how we offer e-bikes with a simple $100 day hire now in place. There is no need to rush bikes back at a set time. Most people ride the Laughing Moa cycle trail. The views and quiet back roads make this a popular ride. We have installed several seats along the route, maximising summer shade or the opportunity to take in views of the countryside. The first three day Gentle Annie cycle ride departs in early February.

This is a different sort of summer and, for many reasons, unlike anything we have experienced before. Radically different? No, probably not, but change is in the air whether the weather or what is happening at River Valley.

Brian Megaw