Testimonial – Multi Adventure Stay at River Valley Lodge
While River Valley does provide set multi adventure packages with some of our more popular activities included, they’re not for everyone.
Mark and his daughter Jessica, stayed with us for three nights and a couple of busy days. While they did do a Grade 5 rafting trip, Mark with an interest in flora and fauna, decided that a Hikoi would also be something quite different.
Richard Steedman, the Maori Guide from Aorangi Experiences, shared the history, flora and fauna with them of the sacred mmountain, Aorangi, over what was quite a big day.
Here is what Mark and Jessica had to say about their days at River Valley.
“The people make all the difference. We had great conversations with the guides who were all well-informed and motivated. They were interested in us and that made our conversation of greater interest for both us and them.”
“The whitewater was awesome. This is such a lovely, scenic setting with ideal short and intense sections of whitewater and ending right at the Lodge. Really IDEAL and IDYLLIC. The professional guiding and arrangements made it perfect.”
The biggest obstacle to us visiting River Valley would have been the distance from Auckland. It took us nearly 7 hours down by hire car. In addition the route was not so clear as it appeared on the New Zealand road map I purchased while still in the USA and planning the trip.
It looked like a clear shot down on NZ Route #1 but the actual Google generated directions had 37 turns en route. The last two turns were not correct and caused us to go off route.
We were able to get a cell phone connection to telephone the lodge for directions from where we were, otherwise we might have been lost. It is quite far so I guess people could consider flying into a closer airport.
Otherwise it is good for a person scheduling a multi-day visit as we did.
We have done some rafting (less than Class 5) previously. We have sea kayaked on multi-day adventures and whitewater kayaked and canoed.
The rafting experience was excellent. The guides gave a good briefing and they were excellent managing diverse levels of experience on the water.
When our raft got lodged between two large boulders with heavy current pinning us in, our guide calmly directed the occupants and worked us out of the jam. The river and scenery were extraordinary and we learned a good bit about the geology of the region on the float down. This was exciting enough and very enjoyable due to good professional guides and a great course.
The “Walk in and Walk out” with the Maori guide Richard Steedman was very interesting and vigorous.
The trail was quite wet and somewhat precipitous so we needed to watch our footing both up and down the mountain. the elevation rise made the hike challenging and the guide had established some interesting points of interest to explain flora and fauna, history, or culture of the people at spots where we had good viewpoints or specific tree specimens he could show us, whilst providing us a chance to catch our breath.
Richard also adapted to our interest and to our fitness. We got up to the lunch spot ahead of time and he then took us up to the top of the mountain for a very nice view and showed us the sub-alpine meadow which had some twisted and anchient cedars and other plants different from the lower altitude.
He also made a special effort to point out birds along the way having found that was one of my interests. Very knolwedgeable and pleasant guide.
Climbed like a billy goat!
The people make all the difference. We had great conversations with the guides who were all well-informed and motivated. They were interested in us and that made our conversation of greater interest for both us and them.
Same was true in the Lodge itself. The cook asked us our likes and dislikes and took good care for us even when there was heavy traffic of bus tours and a corporate group to cater for. Great local ingredients, fresh, well cooked and in a healthy style without much oil or salt but very tasty and idealy cooked.
Our river rafting guide, Anthony, had chatted with me one morning when he saw me looking for birds with my field glasses.
That afternoon he knocked on the door of our room and beckoned us to follow him. He took us to the tree in front of the lodge and pointed out a Morepork (owl) sitting on one of the lower branches of the tree. A rare sighting in daylight for a noctural species that I could not have hoped to see on my own.
This was done on his own personal time and I appreciated the special effort to take his time to help me see this unusual bird.
We enjoyed the family atmosphere which prevailed and the communal table gave us the chance to talk to guides, staff and management to learn more about the activities, history, culture and New Zealand itself. This was great for us.
Of particular benefit to us was that we learned a lot, and we got some good exercise particularly on the hike!
If the lodging was not there we would not have come to Taihape at all. We came all the way from Auckland so the availability of the Lodge and food as well as the availability of many different sports and adventuring activities made it attractive to come all the way to enjoy two action packed days with good food, conversations, and lodging available at the end of the day.
The highlight was the Rafting.
The whitewater was awesome. This is such a lovely, scenic setting with ideal short and intense sections of whitewater and ending right at the Lodge. Really IDEAL and IDYLLIC. The professional guiding and arrangements made it perfect.
A great experience and only wish we had more time. The four days of our eight in New Zealand were well spent and it would have been a challenge to have anything better than two great outdoor experiences with the pleasant and friendly lodge experience in so few days.
Well done River Valley Lodge! Hope to visit you again.
Mark & Jessica Harris , Princeton, New Jersey, USA
To find out more about one of the world’s top half day whitewater rafting experiences, please follow this link.
To find out more about a Guided Hike (Hikoi) on the sacred mountain, Aorangi, please click here.