Transforming a Tourism Business Post COVID-19. What Needs to Change?

River Valley, our adventure company and Lodge, has a long history.

It all started way back in the early 1980s at the back of the family farm. The farm boundaries the Rangitikei River, 32kms east of the central North Island town of Taihape. One particularly pretty spot, and now home to River Valley Lodge, is conveniently placed at the end of the Grade 5 white water rafting section. It is also the start point for several more leisurely river trips.

This Grade 5 section of the Rangitikei River has been placed amongst the top 8 rafting trips in the world by the international brand, Red Bull.

Over the years as our clientele changed, and the tourism industry grew, so did what we offer. Horseback riding adventures were added. The Lodge was developed further with the addition of ensuited rooms, saunas and other infrastructure. The variety and duration of river trips were also added to, with trips available now, being anywhere from half a day to five days.

There have been constants. We have remained a family-owned and operated business. Our love affair with the river and the land has, over time, only deepened and matured. We have learned to be flexible and adaptive to change. We have learned to truly value and understand our place in nature and as part of this landscape.

The realities of operating an adventure tourism business post the COVID-19 pandemic in an era of limited international travel and economic upheaval will again challenge us to adapt.

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The lodge, rafting and horse trekking after it all started in the 80s back on the family farm

Having to adapt, while at first daunting, can also be a time to take stock, to think about what is important, to take a step back from the coal face and look at the bigger picture. What are the things we do that both us and our guests genuinely value? We recently asked this question via a survey and what came back as being important were the things that are difficult to put a dollar value on.

Important highlights in the survey were the genuine friendliness of guides and staff, being able to be in and explore the dramatic natural scenery, being able to eat wholesome, tasty, nutritious meals, prepared with ingredients grown on-site.

We won’t be changing these highlights, only if possible accentuating them.

New Zealanders are now being encouraged to explore their own country. This summer, what will you find at River Valley?

On The River

What you will find is a destination where you can have fun on the river, choosing from a mix of day trips and multi-day trips. Multi-day trips involve camping on the river bank at night and exploring new stretches of the river by day. They are a fun option for families or groups of friends.

A male and a female smiling to the camera while sitting on a boat by the river
Four people sitting on camp chairs next to a bonfire near the river
mokai canyon multi-day rafting

On Horseback

There is no better way to explore the countryside, this beautiful hill country, than by horse. Treks from a half-day to eight days will be operating from October. Fitting in with our philosophy of working with nature, our horses are trained using natural horsemanship techniques and are ridden without steel bits in their mouths or steel shoes on their feet.

At The Lodge

A River Valley Lodge stay, need not be just about rafting or riding horses. The Lodge is also a great place to relax. There are several short walks, a great swimming hole in the river, two saunas and a spa, and plenty of places to just relax with a book.

One change we are making is further developing our paddock to plate food menu. Our organic gardens are being extended, and are worth a visit in their own right.

What will change is that you will not have to share the place with so many people. This change is something that, to be honest, we are looking forward to.

vegetable garden april

River Valley Lodge is presently open for meals and accommodation. Adventure activities, both on the river, or by horse, will resume no later than the 1st October 2020, and possibly earlier.

Our website, is a great place to start planning a stay at River Valley.

We look forward to you visiting.

Brian Megaw

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