I would imagine the common public perception of people working at an Adventure Lodge is one of mostly young people, fit, tanned, cycling to work each morning on their mountain bikes, off kayaking at every opportunity, with everyday conversation filled with “in” terms.

In fact a bunch of lentil eating, craft beer drinking, dreadlocked adventure junkies drawn to places like River Valley in order to pursue their passion.

But Is This Reality?

Well I have to say up front, the reality is that while there are certainly a small handful of River Valley staff who do fit this stereotype, most do not.

Let’s have a look at the disparate lot who make up the crew at River Valley.

The Trainee River Guides

Starting at the bottom of the social order (but not in their minds) are the trainees – no more than 3 in number. These guys and girls aspire to be Grade 5 river guides, and over the course of a few months most will make it. Of all the staff, they probably most want to fit the stereotype, and are most at risk of developing “river god” syndrome.

This syndrome is mostly found amongst younger guides and is easily recognised by the liberal use of “in” terms and an inflated view of one’s importance. The only effective cure is experience, some beat downs on the river, good natured ribbing from other staff, and age.

River and Horse Trekking Guides

These are the guys and girls who have done the time, and in our case that time may be decades. They are professionals in every sense of the word. Their skill levels are high, gained through both countless river and horse miles, and varied experience. They still recognise the value in always learning and in sharing that knowledge.

You can always tell the horse trekking guides from the river guides because in the case of the former every conversation will be led back to horses.

Not so much use of “in” terms, but they certainly do enjoy craft beer and talking shop at the bar.

Chefs, Cooks and Bar Staff

As the old saying goes – “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen!”

Our cooks and kitchen staff work hard consistently turning out food that would not look out of place in any main street cafe or restaurant. They develop a passion for cooking with fresh organic produce.

True bar tenders thrive on late nights and sleep ins and you just have to have this breed of person in the team.

Why are they at River Valley?

I would have to say, friendship, the challenge, a love of working at non mainstream establishments.

Not too much adventure junkie characteristics in evidence here, though time socialising after work is an important part of the day.


Talking about taking the heat, these are the people who are literally on the front line. Most days are busy, but occasionally things do not go right. A booking may have been mucked up, or a guest might have a complaint. This is the front line and they, initially at least, have to deal with it.

Of course, on the other hand, they are often the first staff to be congratulated on a great stay or fun trip.

Again, non adventure junkies, but like most of us they are social.

I would say they are drawn to River Valley initially as a different sort of job in a rural area, but end up “buying” into the River Valley story.


Talk about unsung heroes.

There is little glamour and no adventure junkie attributes attached to this role. But what there is, is a great deal work ethic and satisfaction. This satisfaction is gained from presenting clean well appointed rooms each and every day. Rooms that a guest walks into and says, wow, this is nice.

Adventure Junkies – No.

Heroes – Yes

Back Room people

This is the rest of us.

Accounts, Marketing, Repairs and Maintenance, Drivers, Management

We like to think that we keep the wheels turning, and in a sense we do. While the adventure junkie thing may have lured some of us to River Valley initially, for most of us now it is about making sure we operate the company in the best way it can be.

So That Is Us

We are spread in age from 20 years to 80 years. We are about half male and half female. Some of us have children, some have great grandchildren, others have no children.

Most of us are Kiwis, though at any one time, about a quarter are not.

For the current season at least, we are family, and like all families we sometimes have differences of opinion that we have to sort out.

We are here to live up to the Purpose of River Valley, and to give you, our guests fun and valuable experiences.

Why would you work anywhere else?

Brian Megaw

Everybody trying to look like a cowboy. Some River Valley staff

Everybody trying to look like a cowboy. Some River Valley staff