Afloat With Three Men, Two Children And Two Boats

At the back of all our minds was – “What if the weather really packs it in and we have a cold Autumn storm come through. Winds, rain and plummeting temperatures. Cold children, packing wet cold gear each morning, putting on wet gear, having to put a big shelter up each afternoon when we got off the river.”

A Surprise late Season Booking

The booking had come in at relatively short notice, a family of three, father and two children to do a Mokai Canyon Three Day River Trip. We had few details to go on other than the father had an Italian sort of name and was from Singapore, and that the children were 7 and 10 years old.

Ben was on the roster to guide the trip, but seen as it would be the last one of the season, I thought to myself that maybe I should give him a hand. (Also, a break from the office and running the company was sorely needed!)

Strong Winds, Rain and Plummeting Temperatures

At the back of all our minds was – “What if the weather really packs it in and we have a cold Autumn storm come through? Winds, rain and plummeting temperatures. Cold children, packing wet cold gear each morning, putting on wet gear, having to put a big shelter up each afternoon when we got off the river. These and other scenarios I am sure preyed on all our minds in the lead up to the trip.

A close watch was kept on the weather forecast with the client warned that we would cancel the trip if indeed it looked like the weather would in fact fit a worst case scenario. Each day in the week before departure we anxiously watched forecast updates. Each day the forecast changed, three fine days today, two days of showers and one fine day the next, three days of showers the day after that, finally at last the forecast settled on three fine days.

Three fine days was all we needed.

That is what is known as “Riding the Bull”

Meeting the Family

Giacomo and his children arrived at River Valley Lodge on the Sunday afternoon, the day prior to departure on the river. Ben met them, kitted them out with gear and gave them a thorough briefing on what to expect over the next three days. Like us, Giacomo had been anxiously watching the weather forecast, but both he and the children were excited about what lay downstream.

Downstream lay the children’s first taste in their whole lives of rafting and camping.

Day One and Departure

The day dawned clear and sunny except for some scattered cloud. There was a slight chill to the air. This was to be expected as this was mid April and in New Zealand that means mid autumn.

Mid autumn means that the heat haze of summer has been replaced by the softer hues and rich colours of autumn. Often at this time of year the days are warm, while the night’s are distinctly cooler.

On every multi day trip, packing the first morning is always the slowest. There seem innumerable last minute jobs, food coming from freezers, running through check lists multiple times, while the clients who are being taken on the river struggle with unfamiliar gear and packing techniques. It always pays to allow a generous amount of time, then double it.

Finally all was ready, everything was packed, gear was lashed down firmly on rafts, and safety briefings had been completed. After the somewhat hectic last minute run around, departing is almost anti climatic. The raft is pushed from shore, then gently propelled downstream by paddle and oar.

The Trip Really Starts Once Around The First Corner

It is not long before the river takes us deeper into the Rangitikei River Canyon. Once around the first corner, the Lodge and everyday life is left behind. Over the next three days we would see no other human beings other than a bungy jumper at Gravity Canyon, whose screams (it is hard to tell whether they were of excitement or fear) would echo up and down the river.

Each morning we got quicker at packing up and lashing gear on to the rafts. The key in the afternoon was finding a campsite in plenty of time so we could leisurely unpack, erect tents and cook and eat dinner before dark. After dark we would sit by the fire, telling stories, reminiscing about the day, while the children slowly went to sleep in their chairs. Bed time.

Our days on the river were broken up with lunch stops and short hikes to beautiful waterfalls.

For three short days the canyon walls would cradle us and shelter us from everyday life, but all too soon we reach the take out and the vehicle waiting to take us back to the Lodge.

The spectacular canyons of the Rangitikei River, NZ

Giacomo Sums Up The Trip

We asked Giacomo what the highlight of the trip had been for him. For someone who had travelled extensively, by his own accounts from Iceland to the Amazon, somewhat surprisingly the landscape had been the thing that he found the most special, the great canyon walls of the Rangitikei River.

We also asked Giacomo if he had any advice for other families thinking about booking a Mokai Canyon Three Day River Trip. Giacomo, whose children were 7 and 10 years old, felt that 10 was probably a more realistic minimum age. The reasoning behind this was the length of time it took him to organise the children at either end of the day, not that they could not handle the rafting.

What Now?

If your family needs a summer adventure holiday, then this trip may be for you. If you know of another family who would really get something from this trip then please forward this article to them.

You can find out more about a Mokai Canyon Three Day River Trip by following this link.

Click this link to watch the interview with Giacomo, and share his thoughts on the trip he had recently completed.