We have had quite a few cyclists staying at River Valley Lodge over the last few months.

These have varied from couples to cycling-orientated tour groups. Some have used our hire e-bikes, but many brought along their own bikes – a mix of gravel, standard pedal mountain bikes, and e-bikes.

It has been really interesting talking with them and listening to feedback about their experience of staying at the Lodge and riding the back roads in our area.

Staying at River Valley Lodge and using it as a base from which to ride several routes definitely got the thumbs up!

It is hard to go past having comfortable accommodation and good food after a day of riding through our rural countryside. We must note that no single track trails are available in our area. Nor are there any mountain bike parks. Instead, the rides are along the many back roads.

These back roads are a mix of gravel and seal and are generally quiet – except for farmers moving mobs of stock who often like nothing better than having a yarn with cyclists.

Why Loops?

You can only get a feel for what they want by talking to people. They often wish to get information that enables them to make the most of their stay. That is certainly the case with many of these riders.

What they wanted was information about loops. Of course, this makes perfect sense. Who wants to ride one way and then have to turn around and ride the same terrain back but in the opposite direction?

Nor was I aware that rideable loops don’t exist in many places and are, in fact, not that common. This was recently pointed out to me by a tour guide.

We are lucky to have the Laughing Moa Cycle Trail on our doorstep – https://www.alltrails.com/trail/new-zealand/manawatu-wanganui/the-laughing-moa-cycle-trail. Riding this 43 km loop trail (if returning to River Valley Lodge) is an excellent opportunity to explore the surrounding countryside. But many cyclists want more and go – What’s next?

Cyclone Gabrielle Damage
Cyclone Gabrielle Damage
Cyclone Gabrielle Damage
Cyclone Gabrielle Damage

Some recent photos from the Laughing Moa trail

It really is remarkable what you can come up with once you start pawing over a map.

What I found was a whole bunch of other loops that joined up to the Laughing Moa. These additional loops added between 10 km and 32 km to the primary loop. In addition, several there and back add-ons to points of interest can also be ridden. These points of interest include the spectacular Mokai Bridge and the historical William Colenso Memorial. More than enough to enjoy at least a couple of days riding, not counting some even bigger loops in the area, such as incorporating the Taihape Napier Road. A good big day mission, that one!

Mokai Canyon Bridge

Where to from here?

Over the next month or two, we will publish information about these routes, though not quite sure in what format, but probably in several, with the idea that the routes can be downloaded to your phone. Let us know if you have a preference that you think will work best.

By raft, by horse or by bike, our area of the upper Rangitikei District is special.

See you at the Lodge.

Brian Megaw