Reflections on a River

Why 23 Times?

“What has kept you coming back for 23 times?” I was sitting at the table with a group of people at a restaurant at Marble Cliffs, not far from Lee’s Ferry, the put on point for a Colorado River Grand Canyon rafting trip. One of the people at the table was Geoff.

Geoff had rafted down the Grand Canyon 23 times, not I might add as a working river guide, just a keen participant. Geoff was near 60 years old. Of those 60 years at least one whole year of his life had been spent rafting the Canyon.

I asked him, “Why raft the same section of river 23 times? (especially considering each of those trips would have been from 12 to 21 days)”

Geoff looked genuinely surprised that I should even ask such a question. His answer with a wistful look in his eye was – “You will have to see for yourself.”


“Dreamlike”, John said, after being asked what he thought of boating in the Headwaters of the Rangitikei River in New Zealand.

John is never a person who is wordy, and after uttering this one word, he quickly slipped back into a state of apparent contented bliss as he rowed his cataraft through the bush lined crystal clear pools and down the numerous rapids of this remote North Island river.

John has rowed his cataraft on many rivers in New Zealand, and the American West – the Salmon, the Colorado and many, many more. He later, after a couple of glasses of port, explained that he dreamt of exploring beautiful places such as the Headwaters of the Rangitikei, and here he was doing it.

He also admitted that this day dreaming did get in the way of thinking about what he was going to do next in the “real” world.

How About I Fish Here?

“How about I fish here?” said Greg, as he quickly stowed his paddle and picked up his fly rod again. “We just need to spend more days here!”

“Here” was the Kuripapango to Whanawhana section of the Ngaruroro River in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand

I was rowing the gear raft, with Greg, a rabidly enthusiastic fly fisherman, as my only passenger. While in theory Greg was going to help me get the raft down the river, there was a distinct lack of enthusiasm for using his paddle, instead the fly rod would be constantly licking out, sending a weighted nymph to lure one of the cunning trout.

“Got another one”, yelled Greg, as the raft was quickly rowed to the bank where he could jump out and play the fighting fish who struggled and fought at the end of his line.

After the fish was netted and photographed, it would be released back into the water.

His infectious excitement like that of a child.

3 Reflections, 5 Weeks, 3 Rivers, 2 Countries

All the comments and reflections above I heard over the course of 5 weeks. Different rivers, different countries, different people.

Different but the Same

Different but the same, because each person was expressing the personal relationship they were experiencing, or had experienced on a beautiful river.

Geoff, more than a year spent of his life, exploring the mighty Colorado through Grand Canyon. The great red cliffs, the huge waves in famous rapids such as Lava Falls or Hermit, and the beauty of the side canyons, often so different from the surrounding desert.

John on the Rangitikei, the crystal clear water, bush lined pools and pristine environment of this very special North Island New Zealand river, communicating to a part of his soul that cried out for solitude, beauty and a type of peace.

Greg, like a child in a toy shop with a sense of incredulous wonder, scarcely able to believe that each pool on this, the Forgotten River, the Ngaruroro, could hold so many hours, even days of fun and challenge.


Like the picture reflections of surrounding scenery on still water creates, so can the effect a river experience has on someone, be a picture into their soul.

And me? How was I affected?

The “Real World”

All I know is that it is pretty hard to come back to the “real” world. Of course that depends on your definition of “real”.

On your next river trip, let the experience soak into you like a sponge, and take the time to see the Reflections.

Not sure where to start?

Contact the crew at River Valley and let them know what sort of River Experience you are after, and let them help you.

Phone 0800 248666 if calling from within New Zealand, or +64 6 3881444 if calling from overseas. If email works better for you, then email by clicking here

The view from Nankoweap Granary on the Grand Canyon

John and Ross in catarafts on the Headwaters of the Rangitikei River, New Zealand

Willie’s Waterfall camp in the Headwaters of the Rangitikei River, NZ

Greg with a fine Rainbow Trout caught on the Ngaruroro River, New Zealand

Paddle, what paddle?

Late afternoon on the Grand Canyon