Doubting Thomas Eats Humble Pie

After several years of planning, more than a few doubts – as much from husbands (such as me) as anybody else, the first River Valley 8 Day Ride concluded on Monday with many a very happy rider.

This multi-day horse trek, which has been my wife, Nicola’s, project, has taken some time to get to this point. The reasons for this include the logistics being complicated, dealing with multiple landowners, tracking a route that is challenging, but not too tough on horse and rider, finding a route that incorporates some great scenery, sourcing the right equipment, and finally, pulling all those threads together.

A key point has been Nicola working with international horse holiday agency, Globetrotting. Globetrotting have not only successfully marketed the rides but given some good advice. Also, Nicola rode on several other rides listed by Globetrotting both in New Zealand and overseas, as much to get a feel for the type of clientele and the expectations of that clientele as to have a holiday.

What Exactly is the 8 Day River Valley Ride?

The 8 Day River Valley Ride is a point to point horse trek from River Valley to Raetihi or the reverse of this every second ride. The route traverses a swath of central North Island hill country, much of which is dominated by the mighty volcano, Ruapehu.

Accommodation for the riders is a mix of Lodge stay, glamping, (luxury camping), and a one-night stay at Moawhango Marae.

The initial ride to Raetihi finished at Tommy’s place. Tommy Waara is Nicola’s fellow guide on the ride and with his knowledge and connections, is an integral part of the operation. Tommy has ancestral connections to much of the land covered while riding the more western part of the route.

The ride back to River Valley will start from Tommy’s place and revisit the original route, but in reverse.

River Valley Ride Guides Nicola & Tommy

The Route

River Valley Ride Map

Local Support Has Been Critical

A critical component of the success of the inaugural ride, and its continuing success into the future, has been the support of rural landowners and communities. Included among these have been the whanau of Moawhango Marae who welcomed the riders, most from overseas, with a powhiri, a tremendous meal and insights into Maori culture.

Rangiwaea farmer, Lloyd Alabaster, on whose property the ride “glamps” for two nights has also gone out of his way to make sure the team is comfortable and has all they need. Quirky rural bar, Lloyd’s Bar, is the venue for a meet the locals night, lubricated with a few well-deserved drinks and a meal.

Other farmers along the way, have also welcomed the riders and been incredibly supportive.

As I write this, the participants on the second ride have been picked up from their hotels in Taupo and are presently getting to know their horses at Tommy’s. It is now Thursday, and I expect to see them back home early next week.

Moawhango Marae – A 1 night stop on the ride

The Doubter Having to Eat Humble Pie

I did doubt that this ride could work in the format in which it now operates. Being a river guide and having been on many multi-day river trips all over the world, I prefer to organise trips that do not have many moving parts.

Having support staff who have to shift “glamps” (move infrastructure)—working and liaising with multiple landowners and working with horses that any time could get lame, or not jell with their riders. And then there is the weather.

For me, way too many moving parts!

So, this post is as much as anything saying, well done to my wife, and yes, I am eating some humble pie!


Brian Megaw

Roger shifting the glamping tents to Lloyd’s place

The River Valley Ride
The River Valley Ride

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