Walks, Roasts and Relaxing Retreat at River Valley

Waking up to the sound of a flower river, stepping out of your cabin out into the bottom of a grand valley, watching the low clouds start to lift from the mountain tops… Can you blame us for not wanting to leave River Valley?!

For the last two days at the adventure lodge, we have rode grade 5 rapids in white water rafting and rode over some sensational hills in horseback riding, but we didn’t want to leave River Valley without spending a day relaxing in this riverside retreat. Other than experiencing River Valley’s adventurous side in its paid activities, there are quite a few free things to do while soaking up the stunning surroundings. That’s how we plan to spend our last day here.

After a morning of having breakfast and working in the lodge, a huge communal area complete with a bar, comfy sofas and a rustic central fire place, we decide to go for a bit of a hike. Like we said, we are going to have a “relaxing” day at River Valley, but once we realise how we actually get to the hike is a whole adventure in itself.

An adventurous river crossing

The lodge is situated on one side of the Rangitikei River. The walk is situated across the river. To get there, we need to take a slightly sketchy-looking platform attached to a loosely suspended wire and pull ourselves across. Here we go.

Pulling the platform toward us, we realise how heavy this thing actually is! We realise that once both our feet leave the ground, gravity is going to take us for a ride. With Laura safely on the platform first, Robin practically has to jump on behind her. Sure enough, we zip across the river! Wahooooo!

Welcome to River Valley! Welcome to River Valley!
A casual waterfall crossing A casual waterfall crossing
King of the hill King of the hill
Insect appreciation photo Insect appreciation photo

Nailed it!

“Pull, pull, pull!” Robin shouts as we pass half way across the river with enough momentum to give us a boost up the other side. In the most fun and hilarious way, we make it across the river and to the start of the walk.

Zigzagging to and through the waterfall

It’s a steep zigzagging trail along the valley side starting with lush green vegetation well overgrown over a narrow track. Robin feels like a jungle explorer, palming plants out of the way as he goes, while behind him, Laura feels like she’s only here for comic relief by getting whipped in the face.

The source of this greenery becomes apparent as we see two planks of wood across a cascading waterfall. Making it across quickly, the rest of the walk quickly turns into a dry area covered in golden grass short enough to see how much height we have gained already and how incredible the river views are! The Rangitikei River is well below us now, winding its way into the huge mountainous landscape. What’s more, we get a whole new perspective of the River Valley Lodge and all its hidden areas. We didn’t know there is a vegetable garden behind our cabins? And how did we miss that huge campsite behind the lodge?!

Life by the river

We think we found the top

Walking while simultaneously looking at the view is a pretty tricky business on this climb though with dry gravel threatening to make you slide at any second. We have to take the crossings over slips cautiously too.

We know when to stop when a huge sign saying: “Attention! Hunting Area! If you look like a deer then you will definitely get shot!” Or… something like that…

Flattened down patches of grass indicate the nicest areas to plonk our asses down and talk about all life’s mysteries while looking upon the sensational river valley views. It was definitely worth staying around this little river retreat for moments like these.

A refreshing swim

Once back down the hill, we have the fun of getting across the water again. From there, we part ways for “me” time. Laura opts for swimming in the, ahem, refreshing waters of the Rangitikei River, while Robin does some work on the computer in the lodge. (You can tell who the fun one of the relationship is, can’t you?)

Robin goes back across the water for seconds Robin goes back across the water for seconds
Robin makes a good patchwork student Robin makes a good patchwork student
Roasties! Roasties!

River vALLEY INSECT APPRECIATION SOCIETY

Swimming is brief but actually super refreshing after breaking a sweat on the walk. It’s also a safe place from the sandflies! That’s another thing about River Valley that we’ve noticed, although it is not as teaming with birds as we always hope for (we kind of like birds), it sure is teaming with some pretty funky insects. We had some grasshoppers hopping on our feet, butterflies and bees dancing between flowers, and even stick insects doing what they do best. However, leaving your window open with the light on is not advised in River Valley unless you want to share your room with moths.

dRINKS AND DINNER WITH THE SLAVES

By the time 6pm comes around, we regroup at the River Valley bar for a jug of cider and some banter with the River Valley staff, from the horse trekking guides to the self-titled “slaves” who work for food and accommodation at the lodge. There’s certainly a family vibe between the staff in this secluded lodge. We know our job isn’t too shabby but, can we work here? Please?

Drinks lead to a roast dinner at the lodge. Yum! Bowls of roast potato, kumara, salad, pasta, meat and vegetables are spread on several long tables for everyone to dig in and help themselves. It really enforces that family feel with groups from the Kiwi Experience bus all sat together and the staff (and us pretending to be staff) sat together.

a DAMN COOL PLACE TO HANG OUT

River Valley Lodge is just a damn cool place to hang out. You can either have a chinwag in the bar or outside while playing volleyball or giant chess. Because we are nerds, it comes to no surprise that the night takes us to the chess set where Laura is reminded that she sucks at this game.

Nevertheless, we are so happy that we spent that extra day having a slower paced day at River Valley. Especially as tomorrow we are back on the, this time to Napier, the Art Deco capital! Join us tomorrow for a super scenic drive over the Ruahine Ranges and finding out why we should get excited by art deco!

Laura and Robin

Dinner in the rustic River Valley LOdge
Dinner in the rustic River Valley LOdge Spherical Image - RICOH THETA

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