What Was It Like To Grow Up In An Adventure Company?

River Valley is a multi generational adventure company, now with the 3rd generation of the family taking up the reins as part of the management team.

We asked Janey, Brian and Nicola Megaw’s eldest daughter, and now Operations Manager at River Valley, what it was like to grow up in an adventure company surrounded by talk of rivers, rafts and horses. We asked her how this has shaped her, and her thoughts for the future.

Nicola with a baby Janey on the banks of the Mohaka River, 1981.

What is one of the standout memories you have of growing up surrounded by river guides and river talk?

Already by the river. Nicola and Janey, Mohaka River 1981.
I don’t so much have one standout memory, it was more the waiting:

– The waiting on the side of the river for Dad and the rest of the crew to return off a trip

– The waiting to hear the stories of their huge adventure

– The waiting to become old enough to head out on the river to see for myself what all the talk was about

– The waiting to get my chance to guide my own crew down the river

If there is one thing I have learnt from growing up around river guides and river talk is that they all have a knack of telling a great story, whether it is round the camp fire, leaning on the bar or floating down the river.

How old were you when you first went on a rafting trip?

I think I was about 6 years old. I remember Dad was on the oars and a few of us kids were knelt down in the raft holding onto any rope we could find. Any small splash that came over the side was a huge thrill.

But the 1st big multi day trip generated the longest lasting memories. As a kid it was things like the helicopter ride, (it was a Headwaters trip), seeing the river creating reflections with the light from our torches, toasting marshmallows in the camp fire and even the toilet.

You are now involved in both the Stables and Rafting. What is your first love, boats and rivers or horses?

This would have to be a toss up. I think it was the case of not wanting to miss out on anything, so whatever was going on that day was where I wanted to be.

Where did you train to become a river guide, and why there?

In the beginning the bulk of my rafting was done here at home on the Rangitikei, however when it came to training I spent this time in the States. Being a 3rd generation river guide it was the chance to become my own person and not have all my river running family telling me how to do everything.

This was after the phase in my life of there being no way I was going to be a river guide!

So I headed to Colorado and Dvorak Expeditions where I got to experience a whole other culture of river talk. The 1st time I jumped on a set of oars I was hooked. This gave me a great chance to experience many different rivers while sitting at the helm of a gear raft.

How do you feel about being involved in River Valley now, and how has that changed over time?

The passion I have for River Valley hasn’t changed, however being in a management position I am thinking more about experiences we give our customers and the little added things that make it that much more memorable.

Janey guiding a friend on a family rafting trip in the Headwaters of the Rangitikei 1994

If you had to pick one trip as your favourite, what would that be?

This is a tricky question….maybe ask me again in the New Year. We are planning a 3 day family trip down river and will spend Christmas Day parked up at camp. This will be the kid’s first overnight rafting trip.

What advice are you going to give your own children as they grow up in an adventure company with a river guide Mum and a river guide Dad?

From what I remember Mum and Dad just gave us opportunities and we just took what we wanted. I’d just like my own kids to chase the things that they love to do and be there if they need a helping hand.

How well do you think you work with your father on the rafting and Lodge sides of River Valley, and your mother with the Stables?

Let’s get one thing straight, Mum and Dad still love rafting down rivers, riding horses and being a part of creating our adventures. Day to day we work well (most of the time!), but with a combined passion for different areas of the company, I think we are headed in the same direction.

A direction I’m passionate about.

Janey guiding a raft on the Grade 5 section of the Rangitikei River, New Zealand