The River Valley Escape, New Zealand

3 NightsBeginner to AdvancedFrom $1,800 NZD?Tour costs $1,800 NZD which is approximately $1,712 AUD

Designed by Kiwis, for Kiwis, here is your chance to discover the secrets of the North Island while you have your backyard all to yourselves.

The North Island of New Zealand is an oft-overlooked adventure destination, yet hidden in the remotest corners of the High Country are some of the most exciting, awe-inspiring landscapes in the world. And right now, Kiwis, you have it all to yourselves. If you’ve ever wanted to discover the secrets of the North Island and the stories of those who live on the land, THIS is the ride for you.

Designed by and for New Zealanders, The River Valley Escape will change the way you see the High Country forever. With two nights at a fifth generation family-owned lodge and one night spent camping under the stars, it’s just the right combination of comfort and adventure.

While the tourist buses sleep in their depots, while the planes rest their wings, grab your chance to see Aotearoa in all its unspoilt glory. This is real New Zealand. This is real, hands-on horsemanship. This is authentic Kiwi hospitality. Oh, and the best part? Guests of every riding level are welcome! Sweet as, eh?

Fast Facts

  • Horse Breed:A mix of Kaimanawa (NZ wild horse) and NZ Station Bred, which is a cross of Clydesdale, Standardbred, Quarter Horse, Thoroughbred and Arabian. There are also a few Tennessee Walking Horses and American Saddlebreds in the herd.
  • Pace:The pace varies from a walk right through to a canter when the terrain allows.
  • Weight Limit:A maximum of 95kg / 210lbs *please contact us for a further assessment if you’re above this weight.
  • Type of tack:Both Australian stock saddles and Western tack are used. *All horses are ridden barefoot and bitless.
  • Seasons:November to March.
  • Group size:A minimum of 6 and a maximum of 8 guests.
  • Time in Saddle:On average, 4 to 6 hours daily. Please note, this is dependent on the pace of your group, so on some days it could take a little longer to reach your campsite.
  • Riding Ability:Suitable for ALL abilities, but beginner riders must be comfortable and in control at a rising trot. Not sure what your riding experience is? Watch THIS video to find out.
  • Accommodation:While staying at River Valley Lodge (the first and last nights), you’ll enjoy comfortable twin share rooms with ensuites. On night two, you’ll be ‘glamping’ in bell dome tents (camp stretcher and all bedding provided). There will be long drop toilet facilities available tonight but no shower, although you’ll be close to a river for a quick dip should you wish. No electricity on night 2.
  • Ride Length:3 days, 3 nights.
  • Inclusions:

    The price includes all accommodation, riding and meals (from lunch on day 1 through to breakfast on day 4).

  • Exclusions:

    The price does not include international and regional flights, travel insurance (compulsory), transport to/from the ride and alcohol (BYO is welcome for night 2, and you can purchase at the bar on nights 1 & 3).




NEW! Secure your saddle seat NOW with a 10% deposit - as part of our 10x 10% payment plan!
Departing FinishingAvailabilityTotal
December 4, 2020December 7, 20204 spots left
$1,800 NZD ?Tour costs $1,800 NZD which is approximately $1,712 AUD - Twin Share?Happy to share with another solo traveller of the same genderBook

PLEASE NOTE: A single supplement rate of $2040 NZD will apply to solo travellers should we not have another guest (of the same gender) available to twin share a room.


The price includes all accommodation, riding and meals (from lunch on day 1 through to breakfast on day 4).


The price does not include international and regional flights, travel insurance (compulsory), transport to/from the ride and alcohol(BYO is welcome for night 2, and you can purchase at the bar on nights 1 & 3).

Accepted payment is by credit or debit card only. There is a 2% surcharge on all card payments. Click HERE to read our recommendations on which cards are best to use to avoid international transaction fees.

With our riding destinations, the currency is dictated by our ride partner in that country. Therefore due to fluctuating exchange rates we have to quote in the same currency.


Expand AllCollapse All

*Please note, this is a suggested itinerary only and subject to change due to weather and other influencing factors. Please also be advised that should the weather be exceptionally unpleasant and your hosts feel it is in the group’s best interests, the itinerary may be changed to facilitate a three-night stay at the Lodge. The surrounding area is accessible and diverse enough to provide three fascinating and unique days of riding.

Expand AllCollapse All
  • Day 1

    Today you’ll drive to River Valley Lodge, arriving at midday or earlier. The friendly staff at the Lodge will check you into your twin share accommodation, then you’ll have a moment to settle in before enjoying a beautiful al fresco lunch with the Rangitikei River babbling and splashing from across the garden. With the introductions made and bellies filled, it’s time to get your riding gear on and head to the stables to meet the horses! Your host, Nicola, will teach you the art of riding ‘freestyle’ with your barefoot, bitless steed, then you’ll hit the trail for an afternoon ride to get you and your horse feeling comfortable and connected.

    Returning to the Lodge, you’ll have some time to freshen up or take a walk to the river before the cooks whip up a generous dinner featuring fresh produce from the garden. The bar will be open should you wish to enjoy a beverage or two with your meal. After savouring the relaxed atmosphere of the Lodge and getting to know your guides and fellow globetrotters, your comfortable, cosy bed will be calling. Hot tip: the ensuites have in-floor heating! No frozen toes here, no siree.

  • Day 2

    After filling up on a hearty breakfast at the Lodge and packing your lunch in your saddlebags, everyone will head out to catch, groom, saddle and feed the horses. This hands-on time strengthens your relationship with your horse, but don’t worry, there’s always help on hand should you need it. Mounting up, you will explore the beautiful countryside around River Valley for a full day, with a lunch break in a shady spot along the trail. There’ll be steep hills, groves of native bush, rocky plateaus, sweeping views and rolling fields aplenty. You will be encouraged to ride your horse independently and intuitively, meaning that if you choose to do so, the opportunities to trot and canter are virtually endless!

    Finally, you’ll arrive at your campsite and untack and turn out your horse. There will be a long drop toilet but no shower, although the gorgeous, secluded river is perfect for swimming. This is a hands-on camping experience, with everyone pitching in to get the campfire going, pitch the tents and cook a delicious dinner. As the stars twinkle high above, you’ll snuggle down inside your tent and rest up for another epic day in the saddle.

    *BYO alcohol tonight.

  • Day 3

    Waking up to the sound of the river rushing past the campsite, you’ll emerge from your tent and enjoy a camp breakfast before packing your lunch and preparing your horse for the day’s ride. By now, you and your steed will have developed a close understanding and you’ll be able to stretch out into some long, windswept canters across the undulating hills.

    Lunch will be enjoyed at atop Pukeoahu with views stretching for miles, before you spend the afternoon riding back to River Valley Lodge. It’s here you’ll say farewell to your steed, as this brings the riding to an end. There will be some time to relax by the water or take a hot shower before regrouping for one last hearty, home-cooked dinner with your fellow riders and crew. Plenty of laughs, stories and memories will no doubt be shared! Finally, rosy-cheeked and content, you’ll tumble into bed and dream of riding across the High Country.

  • Day 4

    After a final breakfast at the lodge, you’re free to depart at your leisure or linger a while longer.

  • Further Notes

    River Valley Lodge has a range of activities on offer and is famed as one of New Zealand’s top rafting destinations. If you have the time, we highly recommend booking a half-day raft trip after your ride. Should you wish to enjoy an extra night at River Valley Lodge before or after your ride (at an additional expense), you’ll need to book this direct with the team at River Valley. Please email should you wish to book any of these extras.

  • Transfer Information

    No transfers are available for this itinerary, so guests will need to self-drive. You’ll need to arrive at River Valley Lodge (266 Mangahoata Road, Taihape) no later than 12 midday on the first day, and you can depart anytime after breakfast on the final morning. Your car can be parked at River Valley Lodge for the duration of the ride.