An Ode to River Valley

The drive to River Valley is the first thing to take your breath away about the place. As you leave the local town of Taihape and drive east up into the mountains, about ten minutes into the trip you turn a corner and the view is swear-inducing. As the Otuarei Road winds around the side of farm-laden hills, it appears that you are driving on top of the world, or at least the Rangitikei District. Rolling green hills of sheep farmland that border ragged cliffs for as far as the eye can see, broken up expanses of wild, untamed native bushland. It seems that every shade of green and blue on the colour palette has been used to paint this view. As you drive down what feels like a 90 degree-angled driveway, you see the first views of River Valley lodge. Nestled in between mountains, along the Rangitikei River, a wooden lodge becomes apparent through the trees.

My name is Kaysanne and I guess officially now, I am the newly-appointed manager of Sales and Marketing at River Valley. I’m a born and bred West Australian, inspired to revisit River Valley six years after my one night stay here as a eighteen year old backpacker, exploring the country in my gap year. I guess it is a wonder why the management of River Valley would employ an Australian to undertake the marketing of a New Zealand jewel like River Valley; my opinion is that perhaps, who better to sell the story of River Valley, than a once visitor who fell so in love with the place, that she decided to move countries six years later for a job here?

I arrived merely four days ago and during this time have barely worked a minute, but rather had the pleasure of enjoying some of what River Valley has to offer; the Grade 5 Whitewater Rafting, the relaxing Whitewater Scenic Adventure and some of the beautifully-kept accommodation options. I have been gorging on the wholesome country-style food of the lodge Restaurant and have been “test-tasting” a few too many NZ beers at the bar.

However, my favourite sentiment so far has been experiencing the people that River Valley attracts – whether it be the five generations of family that have cared for this place now, the passionate staff that flock to it, or the visitors who make the trip to experience the remote wilderness and serenity that is River Valley. The common factor between everyone here is the dedication to up keeping and caring for this near-untouched part of the world. There is also a real devotion to inspiring and educating awareness of some of River Valley’s philosophies of environmental sustainability, regenerative practices and supporting the local community.

I have hit the jack pot; I have moved to a secluded lodge in untouched wilderness, with a job in marketing what must be one of the most sellable products I can think of – unique experiences in a spectacular location.

Because believe me, as a visitor and as the newest local, this is truly one of the most pristine, beautiful and friendly places on earth.

Kaysanne Knuckey

The view along the drive into River Valley, New Zealand