A critical component of operating a tourism business in a rural environment is being able to work and get along with your neighbours. As most of these neighbours are farming families who own or manage the surrounding countryside, being able to work with them is especially important. Being able to cross over this farmland is an integral part of some of our offerings, particularly with horse trekking and several rafting trips.

For the most part, this access is trouble free and is something we very deeply appreciate.

The reasons for us to be granted access are, without a doubt, many and varied. For many, if not most, I think it is simply viewed as a good neighbourly thing to do. A feeling we seek to reciprocate, giving back where we can.

For others, it is an opportunity for social contact outside their usual farming circles. Being a farmer can be a lonely calling with long days of hard work. A group on horseback riding over their property can be a chance to meet new people and explain what they are doing. You can often hear the pride in their voices as they describe their farming operation and how they look after the land. This can give valuable insights to our guests on what happens on a farm.

This group often looks at themselves as custodians of this land. Whether for the land’s sake, their family’s sake, or a mixture of both.

Another group see a different picture.

This picture considers how the diversity of people and businesses within their community both strengthens and enriches it. There are the economic benefits of having tourism businesses support retailers in the local town. There are the social benefits of new people entering a district, with some going on to stay and become long term residents. Long term residents can end up having children attend the local primary school and become passionate supporters of community events and fundraising drives.

Then there is employment. Over the years, River Valley has offered seasonal work to the children of local farmers. For most, it will be a temporary job as they go through High School or University. Occasionally, the temporary job leads to a career in guiding. Sometimes, it all works in reverse, and a staff member leaves to become a farmer (or farmer’s wife).

One area of interaction I particularly enjoy is working with our local Marae – Moawhango Marae. Staying at the Marae on our 8 day horse treks has strengthened and deepened our relationship with the local Maori community. This interaction has enriched our lives and also the experiences of our guests.

So, a big thank you to everybody with whom we work in our local communities. Have a great holiday season (though I do know how mad it can be in the run-up to Christmas!).

And to everybody else, we hope you also have a fun holiday season. We hope River Valley is on your list of places to be this summer.

All the best

Brian Megaw, family and staff at River Valley.

Moawhango Marae