Embracing Seasonality

For much of River Valley’s existence, we have fought the problem of seasonality.

Why is seasonality a problem?

Tourism, and adventure tourism, in particular, is generally a seasonal business. That holds true whether it is winter pursuits such as skiing or the myriad of summer outdoor activities that can be on  offer. For many tourism businesses, managing the off-season can be difficult.

Cashflow is limited. What happens to valuable staff over this period? Operating costs can often increase due to increased energy use and other expenses associated with operating out of the warmer seasons.

For decades here at River Valley, we tried to think of inventive ways to even out the trough that the colder months bring.

We carried on rafting the Grade 5 section of the Rangitikei River on all but the coldest days. We tried to get more corporate business and family reunions. While doing this, we burned a mountain of firewood at the Lodge.

And yet, from a profitability viewpoint, being open or not open through this period (Winter in our case) added up to roughly the same result. Generally negative.

winter rafting - the narrows

Rafting the grade 5 section of the river on a cold winter day

The Covid shutdowns and the difficult years since have forced us to relook at how we used to do things.

We no longer have contracts that force us to remain open in the middle of Winter.

We have adopted a business model centred around accommodating fewer guests and improving their experiences. We now fully close for several weeks, allowing all the full-time staff to take a break, spend time with their families and refresh themselves for next season.

But I am not sure in my own mind that this really embraces seasonality.

Unlike in the times of our ancestors, whose lives followed a seasonal pattern from planting crops in the Spring to harvesting in the Autumn and adopting a slow pace of life over Winter, modern life demands that we are almost always “on”.

However, there is a great deal of truth in the old saying – make hay when the sun shines.

For River Valley, this means making the most of Spring, Summer and Autumn when it comes to being on a raft, horse or bike. Days are long, the sun shines, and the earth is full of life.

And what of Winter?

Winter is a time to kick back and relax with friends in the warmth of a fire. Enjoy mulled wine and good food. All at a slower pace.

For us here at River Valley, that is embracing seasonality.

And before you know it, Spring will be here. Life returns, the sun shines, the river sparkles, the hills beckon—time to return to the river or explore on a horse or bike. The season has turned again.

Embrace the season.


winter rafting - the narrows


River Valley is totally closed from the 8th to the 19th of July. In addition, we are now on winter hours.

If you have a group of 10 or more who wish to stay, please get in touch with us and we will open especially for you. However, please check with us if you do not have a group of 10, as there may already be other bookings on the days you would like to stay. The same applies if you have a group of 4 or more who wish to raft the Grade 5 section of the Rangitikei River.

If you wish to stay but only require a room and do not require meals or use of the main Lodge, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

E-bike hire is available throughout this period except when we are totally closed.

We fully reopen in September in time for Spring. (I’m looking forward to that already 😊).

You have got to love summer!


Brian Megaw