Winter, and the Flow of Months at River Valley

April is the month towards the end of our busy season, where we first really notice the flow of customers slowing down.

Going into May, the weather starts turning bringing with it cooler temperatures and often more rain, (not this year though, where May was mild with little rain). By now most of the seasonal summer staff have left for jobs in the Northern hemisphere or some other seasonal work elsewhere at home.

Moving into June and July, it is cold outside; the sky is often cloudy, days are short. Firewood burning is an integral part of the daily ritual.

Winter has Come

River Valley is situated in a cooler area of the central North Island of New Zealand and at a relatively high altitude. Frosts can get down to -5 degrees, (though this is unusual), while many days are overcast with a few showers, but seldom much in the way of heavy downpours. On occasion, there is a snowfall, sometimes heavy.

Our soil type is a fertile loam over mudrock, perfect for generating plenty of mud! Farm tracks, in particular, become slippery following rain, providing difficult and challenging conditions for horse trekking. Rather than battle this each day, the Stables closes for three months.

Over this winter period, the flow of customers is, as you would expect, much reduced, meaning that we are only busy a couple of days a week.

What a Contrast with Summer

During the busy months of the main season, that stretches from late September to early May, a family operated adventure tourism business such as River Valley, can be all-consuming for those working within it. We are open every day from early in the morning to late at night. By season’s end, everybody is tired, both physically and mentally.

Winter, when it arrives, provides time for a much-needed respite. Like nature itself, we slow down, take stock and look for rest.

Early Winter

June and early July is a time for reflection. A few loose ends are tidied up, but generally, no major projects are undertaken. In many ways, these few weeks could be looked as our rest and recuperation period. To be honest, we all need this.

Mid Winter

By mid-July, thoughts of the new season that will kick off in late September are starting to occupy our thoughts. Some early planning is undertaken, new projects are discussed, prioritised and budgets are prepared. However, the weather is generally fairly awful, limiting what we can do in any physical sense.

Late Winter and Early Spring

It almost takes me by surprise the way that Spring sneaks up on us. Suddenly there are early season wattles flowering. Their bright yellow flowers bringing a splash of colour to the drab winter landscape. Daffodils are above ground with already, the odd bloom. Days are lengthening and becoming warmer. Newly born lambs appear in paddocks.

Just like nature itself, we also awaken. There is energy in the air. There is a feeling of excitement as the new season looms. Each new season feels in many ways like a new beginning.

Now there is urgency in completing those projects that were planned during winter.

Rafting equipment is checked and repaired. In the vegetable garden, seeds are sown in propagation trays getting ready to be planted out once the soil warms up. Horses are brought in from their winter rest and worked in preparation for riders.

And so the roller coaster ride that is an adventure tourism business starts again for another year.

Even now, mid-July, when I go outside the house, I can feel the pulse of the earth changing. There will still be plenty of winter storms, but now, Spring is coming.

Brian Megaw

A few photos of Winter so far - some frosty June mornings and a very cold raft trip!

winter rafting - the narrows
frosty winter morning 2019
hot cider by the fire, winter 2019
frosty winter morning 2019

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