The River Valley Ride, New Zealand

7 NightsIntermediate to AdvancedFrom $4,075 NZD?Tour costs $4,075 NZD which is approximately $3,714 AUD

The River Valley Ride is a firecracker of an itinerary that’s swathed in Māori culture, with an intense sense of freedom and adventure at its very core.

There is SO much goodness packed into this ride in the North Island of New Zealand. A point-to-point ride, it starts and ends at the family home of your guides, Nicola Megaw and her daughter Janey Harrison. River Valley Lodge is a spectacular, fifth generation family-owned lodge that sits poised on the wild Rangitikei River.

Thanks to the on-the-move nature of this ride, you’ll traverse jaw-dropping, ever-changing scenery. Just imagine: dreamy canters across bowling green pastures dotted with flocks of happy sheep, getting lost in pristine native bush where the silver ferns tickle your horse’s belly, loping across wispy pampas and swimming bareback in the river.

The absolute gift of an eight day ride is the flow that comes with consistent time in the saddle. You’ll fall into a gentle rhythm with your horse, your fellow globetrotters and your guides, giving yourself the time to disconnect so that you can reconnect. Not only that, you’ll get a lovely sense of the rural Kiwi way of life, with Nicola and Janey personally guiding you through generational farming properties that aren’t accessible to the general public. You’ll also be privileged to spend a night at a local Marae, which is the focal point of Māori communities.

For those Globetrotters who yearn for the rhythm and sense of accomplishment that comes with eight glorious days in the saddle – for those who hold a deep desire to return to mother nature, lift the veil on this enchanting part of New Zealand and be swathed in Māori culture – The River Valley Ride is for YOU.

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:December through 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 intermediate to experienced riders. All riders MUST be confident riding outside an arena at all paces over uneven ground.
    *Please keep in mind that this ride involves 8 days in the saddle, so suitable saddle fitness is a MUST.
     Not sure what your riding experience is? Watch THIS video to find out.
  • Accommodation:The accommodation varies throughout the ride. While staying at River Valley Lodge (the first two nights and the last night), you’ll enjoy comfortable twin share rooms with ensuites. You’ll spend two nights ‘glamping’ (bell dome tents, camp stretcher and all bedding provided) with access to basic shower and toilet facilities. You’ll also spend one night at a traditional Maori Marae (communal space, no single room available) and one night at Tarata Lodge with comfortable twin share rooms.
  • Ride Length:8 days, 7 nights (8 riding days).
  • Inclusions:

    Twin share accommodation, riding, meals (from dinner on day 1 through to lunch on day 8), and transfers to and from Taupo on days 1 and 8.

  • Exclusions:

    International and regional flights, travel insurance (compulsory), accommodation in Taupo the day before and after the ride and alcohol (BYO is welcome).

 

DEPARTURE DATES & RATES

NEW! Secure your saddle seat NOW with a 10% deposit - as part of our 10x 10% payment plan!
Departing FinishingAvailabilityTotal
December 6, 2022December 13, 2022Only 1 spot left!
$4,075 NZD ?Tour costs $4,075 NZD which is approximately $3,714 AUD - Twin Share?Happy to share with another solo traveller of the same gender
$4,575 NZD ?Tour costs $4,575 NZD which is approximately $4,170 AUD - Single Rider?Happy to pay a booking supplement for own roomBook
January 13, 2023January 20, 2023SOLD OUT!
$4,075 NZD ?Tour costs $4,075 NZD which is approximately $3,714 AUD - Twin Share?Happy to share with another solo traveller of the same gender
$4,575 NZD ?Tour costs $4,575 NZD which is approximately $4,170 AUD - Single Rider?Happy to pay a booking supplement for own room
February 7, 2023February 14, 2023SOLD OUT!
$4,075 NZD ?Tour costs $4,075 NZD which is approximately $3,714 AUD - Twin Share?Happy to share with another solo traveller of the same gender
$4,575 NZD ?Tour costs $4,575 NZD which is approximately $4,170 AUD - Single Rider?Happy to pay a booking supplement for own room
February 21, 2023February 28, 2023SOLD OUT!
$4,075 NZD ?Tour costs $4,075 NZD which is approximately $3,714 AUD - Twin Share?Happy to share with another solo traveller of the same gender
$4,575 NZD ?Tour costs $4,575 NZD which is approximately $4,170 AUD - Single Rider?Happy to pay a booking supplement for own room
March 7, 2023March 14, 2023SOLD OUT!
$4,075 NZD ?Tour costs $4,075 NZD which is approximately $3,714 AUD - Twin Share?Happy to share with another solo traveller of the same gender
$4,575 NZD ?Tour costs $4,575 NZD which is approximately $4,170 AUD - Single Rider?Happy to pay a booking supplement for own room
March 21, 2023March 28, 2023SOLD OUT!
$4,075 NZD ?Tour costs $4,075 NZD which is approximately $3,714 AUD - Twin Share?Happy to share with another solo traveller of the same gender
$4,575 NZD ?Tour costs $4,575 NZD which is approximately $4,170 AUD - Single Rider?Happy to pay a booking supplement for own room

WHAT IS INCLUDED IN THE PRICE?

The price includes twin share accommodation, riding, meals (from dinner on day 1 through to lunch on day 8), and transfers to and from Taupo on days 1 and 8.

WHAT IS NOT INCLUDED IN THE PRICE?


The price does not include international and regional flights, travel insurance (compulsory), accommodation in Taupo the day before & after the ride and alcohol (BYO is welcome).

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.

WHY IS THE PRICE QUOTED IN NZD?
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.

Itinerary

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*Please note, this is a suggested itinerary only and subject to change at the discretion of your guides due to weather and other influencing factors.

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  • Day 1

    Hooray! Your adventure in New Zealand is about to begin! This morning you’ll be picked up from your accommodation in Taupo between 9 and 9:30am. The drive to River Valley Lodge takes in the unique Central Plateau of the North Island and you’ll drive past three active volcanoes while travelling down the spectacular Desert Road. There will be a stop on the way to purchase some lunch and any last-minute supplies, including extra alcohol if you would like.

    Your host, Nicola, will greet you at the Lodge where you’ll meet your guides, who will give you a briefing on the days ahead. Today is about getting to know your horse, building a connection, feeling comfortable with one another and understanding the principles of riding your horse in a rope halter. To begin with, once you’ve been paired with your horse, you’ll spend some time working together on the ground; then you’ll ride out over River Valley. After a beautiful afternoon of riding, you’ll feel connected and confident in the saddle.

    In the evening, you’ll enjoy a sumptuous dinner of home-grown meat and vegetables amidst the relaxed atmosphere of River Valley Lodge and get to know your guides and fellow guests. By now your comfortable, cosy bed will be calling – make sure you get plenty of beauty sleep tonight, globetrotters!

  • Day 2

    After packing your lunch and filling up on a hearty breakfast at the Lodge, everyone will head out to catch, groom, saddle and feed the horses. This hands-on time strengthens your relationship with your horse and will form part of each day (don’t worry, there’s always help on hand should you need it). Mounting up, you will explore the big hills, open country and patches of native bush on Pukerimu Station, a neighbouring farm, with a lunch break in a charming spot along the trail.

    Tonight is your last night at River Valley Lodge before returning on day 5, so make the most of the luxury and be sure to savour the family-style, locally grown and home cooked fare! Before bed this evening, you’ll pack what you need for camping, leaving anything you don’t need at the lodge – it will be there when you return.

  • Day 3

    Getting into the morning rhythm, you’ll pack your lunch, enjoy a filling breakfast, then prepare your horse for the day ahead. Today’s ride is a picturesque journey through the local farmlands, crossing seven private properties before reaching Moawhango, a small country settlement with a rich history. Here you will get to meet some of the locals from both European and Māori cultures, who will share their love of the land and their ancestral stories with you.

    Tonight you’ll be given privilege of staying on the community’s marae, or meeting ground. The marae is the focal point of Māori communities throughout New Zealand, who see it as tūrangawaewae – their place to stand and belong. As a group, you will be welcomed onto the marae and experience the warm hospitality of the Māori people as you’re treated to a delicious welcome meal prepared especially for you.

  • Day 4

    Today you will wave goodbye to Moawhango and journey on for an adventurous day’s ride through the High Country. You’ll ride across the magnificent hills of Maunganui and Ohinewairua Stations. This is private land where few tourists ever get to set foot, so lap it up, globetrotters! On top of that, you’re riding right on the edge of wild horse country, where the wild Kaimanawa horses roam. If you’re lucky, you might see a well-camouflaged herd among the tussocks!

    Finally, you’ll pull your horse up at the campsite. After an evening dip in the river, it’s time to settle in for the night with another hearty meal courtesy of one of River Valley’s legendary cooks. As the stars twinkle high above, you’ll snuggle down inside your tent and rest up for another epic day in the saddle.

  • Day 5

    After breakfast at camp, you will saddle up and begin the journey back to River Valley, following an entirely new trail. Leaving Ohinewairua, you’ll keep to the High Country while riding through a private farm aptly named Big Hill Station. With views out to the Kaimanawa and Ruahine Ranges, you’ll feel on top of the world. In the far distance, you will see Aorangi (the local Maunga, which is Māori for mountain). Having spent a night at the marae, you’ll understand more of its history and significance. Tonight you will be sleeping under the Maunga, Aorangi, back in your cosy room at River Valley Lodge.

  • Day 6

    As usual, the day will begin with a delicious breakfast and time spent bonding with your trusty trail horse as you prepare for the ride ahead. The journey continues through the high country farmland of Pukeokahu and Pukekaka Stations, where there will be ample opportunities to pick up the pace and feel the wind in your hair. Then, after a picnic lunch, you’ll descend into the beautiful Rangitikei River Gorge. This is a very special area for your guides, who grew up here and will no doubt have more than a few tales to tell.

    Your nimble horse will cross the river multiple times en route to your destination, Tarata Lodge, a spectacular property owned by Steve and Trudi Maddock. The lodge is based high on the cliffs of the Rangitkei River and boasts stunning views into the river canyon. Dinner will be prepared by one of your amazing crew members while you and your fellow globetrotters sit back on the deck and watch the light fade softly over the river.

  • Day 7

    This morning you’ll enjoy the delights of Tarata Lodge before riding down into the spectacular river gorge. Heading upstream, you’ll ride through the river and up over two prominent hills, Pukekaka and Pukeokahu. Pukeokahu translates to ‘hill of the hawk’, and local Māori are believed to have roamed this sacred place for at least 400 years. On a clear day, the hilltop offers views of all three of the North Island’s volcanoes!

    Finally, you will arrive back at River Valley for one last night together with your fellow riders and crew. You’ll celebrate in true kiwi fashion with a Hāngi – a traditional Māori method of cooking food in the ground. Loosen your belt buckles, globetrotters!

  • Day 8

    It’s your choice how you spend this last day of your holiday. We recommend a rafting trip with the fun-loving, knowledgeable river guides. You could also simply soak up the tranquillity by the river or, if you’re not quite ready to say goodbye to your horse, you could learn a little more about horsemanship with Nicola.

    At 2pm, after one last picnic, you’ll say farewell to the River Valley team and take a shuttle back to your accommodation in Taupo. The trip takes roughly two hours, so you will need to book a night’s accommodation in Taupo this evening so the group isn’t rushed getting back into town. You can depart for your onward travels anytime the following day.

  • Transfer Information

    Transfers to and from Taupo are included in the ride price. To avoid travel delays, we ask that all guests arrive and stay in Taupo (at your own expense) the day before the ride begins, so you’re ready to be collected from your accommodation between 9 and 9:30am on day one. And please also book another night’s accommodation in Taupo on the final day of your ride, so the group isn’t rushed getting back into town. You can fly home the following day.

    **Please note that if you’re flying into Auckland International Airport, give yourself a three hour buffer to clear customs {especially with horse riding equipment – helmets, chaps} before your regional flight directly into Taupo. Our travel agent can assist in booking your international and regional flights as she’s familiar with this ride itinerary.

What our valued Globetrotters say about The River Valley Ride

The River Valley Ride, North Island, New Zealand - Globetrotting horse riding holidays

Lynnere Baylis

‘My sister and I did the River Valley trek and it was amazing. Such a great group of people joined us and everything was fantastic from the horses to the accommodation and food. Our guides were great, they taught us why they use natural horsemanship and the horses were in great condition. I rode Ranger and was very pleased to be on one of the bigger horses as that’s what I’m used to. He was very careful but also very fun. Such amazing sights and such a peaceful place, we will definitely be back! Thanks heaps Globetrotting.’

The River Valley Ride, North Island, New Zealand - Globetrotting horse riding holidays

Michelle Vernon

‘Nicola is an excellent guide and coached us well in our adjustment to bitless style riding. I rode Rio, a palomino gelding. He was well mannered and once I got used to riding bitless, we seemed to understand each other well. The Sunday ride up the escarpment was a great day, reaching great heights to be met by the wonderful chef Miranda cooking us a barbeque lunch with bubbles. All the meals were fresh, delicious and varied. VERY generous servings and the desserts… yummo! The accommodation was excellent. Everything was to a high standard. Even the glamping tent was well set up with a comfy mattress, rug and chairs. The hot water bottles were a bonus! This ride was excellent value for money and I would definitely recommend it!’

The River Valley Ride, North Island, New Zealand - Globetrotting horse riding holidays

Gillian McSweeney

‘Every day was special, the scenery was spectacular and the banter was hilarious. Our evenings together over a few wines were also memorable and so much fun. I haven’t laughed so much in ages! Everyone at River Valley was friendly, knowledgeable and great fun. The accommodation was excellent and the meals were absolutely 10 out of 10. Miranda was an outstanding chief and used all the fresh produce out of their own garden. I rode Ranger. He was a real gentleman. It was my first time riding bitless and he didn’t put a foot wrong. I loved how everyone could go off for a canter and if you felt like walking a bit more, the horses would listen to you and keep on walking. I loved my time at River Valley and have made lifelong friends. I’ll be back for more next year!’

The River Valley Ride, North Island, New Zealand - Globetrotting horse riding holidays

Shari Rowles

‘The River Valley Ride is a must do for those thrill seeking riders. The food and accommodation is excellent. Magnificent scenery. Safe, friendly, extremely well cared for steeds. This was the second time I have ridden Alphie. He’s a fast wee chappie with such a great personality. I loved that we could enjoy lots of long canters. Swimming in the very clean river each day was pure bliss, and swimming with our horses was a unique experience. Staying at the Maori marae was extra special. Basically, every minute was absolutely fantastic!
Because this ride is so special, I have already booked it for the third time in January 2023. “Just Ride It”, globetrotters, you won’t be disappointed!’

The River Valley Ride, North Island, New Zealand - Globetrotting horse riding holidays

Robyn Smale

‘This ride really gives both kiwis and overseas visitors a chance to immerse themselves in a slice of kiwi life that not everyone has access to, or even knows about. I can’t even think of words to describe Nicola, Janey and their wonderful family. It felt like a great privilege to spend such incredible time with four generations of their family, from the seniors down to the great grand kids. Everyone at River Valley made my experience that much richer. I kept thinking, ‘this is the best day’, but every day brought surprises and variety in terrain, views and experiences. Nothing felt orchestrated; we rolled with each day as it came: finding new paths, meeting farmers and their curious kids, watching shearers at work, talking to colourful locals, swimming at the river and spending time with the family dogs. The great thing about the horses on this trip is that they are are trained to be independent, and we are shown how to ride them that way. So refreshing!
I for one value the ‘guarantee’ that comes from booking with Globetrotting: we always know the rides have been tested and are of a high standard, and we know that the horses, guides, accommodations and experiences are solid. Thank you!’

The River Valley Ride, North Island, New Zealand - Globetrotting horse riding holidays

Tanya Greenwood

‘Every day on this ride was phenomenal – you really settled into the rhythm of your horse while breathing in the fresh air and viewing the stunning countryside.
Nicola and Janey are the real deal: a wonderful mother-daughter duo who bring their passion for horses and the land together in an incredible eight day trek. They are knowledgeable, easy-going and always up for a good laugh. The standard of professionalism and attention to detail was top notch, especially when pairing you up with your horse. I rode Dakota and he was a true gentleman with plenty of go. He never seemed to tire and was happy at the front, side or back of all his companions. He didn’t put a foot wrong and I loved cantering up long rolling hills on him and meandering slowly down steep terrain. He really bonded with me and took on all sorts of trail obstacles without hesitation. Swimming the horses was incredible – so liberating! A big shout out also goes out to Miranda, the incredible chef, who outdid herself with every meal! I loved all the farm-to-fork food.
I cannot recommend this ride highly enough — it was truly the trip of a lifetime in every way.’

The River Valley Ride, North Island, New Zealand - Globetrotting horse riding holidays

Sharon Jeong

‘Surreal landscapes, gourmet food, great company and challenging terrain. What more could you want?! An unforgettable experience that offers total freedom on your horse, a cracking itinerary and plenty of opportunities to feel the wind in your hair, with incredible views around every corner. Lots of thought is put into which horse you are given – I rode Blaze, who was perfectly matched to me and was exactly what I asked for: a forward-moving horse with a bit of sass! Nicola and Janey were incredible guides and their hospitality was second to none. Truly ABOVE expectations. I would highly recommend this trip for all the adventurous riders out there – you won’t regret it!’

The River Valley Ride, North Island, New Zealand - Globetrotting horse riding holidays

Michelle Klocek

‘River Valley is definitely the best riding adventure I’ve had. Nicola and Janey gave us the experience of a lifetime, never to be forgotten. I rode the handsome and snuggly Calibre, who was a great ride and taught me a lot. Nicola and Janey are fantastic guides, and their knowledge of the land we travelled over is unsurpassed. They are warm, friendly, funny, caring and so very helpful. The accommodation was so luxurious, with super comfy beds, lovely linen and a fantastic outlook. Miranda did an outstanding job feeding us, with different fabulous meals every night and sumptuous desserts. Definitely no complaints! Our visit to Moawhango marae was warm and welcoming and the tour around the settlement was really interesting. All the lands we traversed were so stunning and spiritual. There were two outstanding highlights: swimming with our horses and rafting – both in the stunning Rangitikei River, and both first time experiences. We were made to feel like part of the big River Valley family. I’ll definitely be going back again.’

River Valley Ride, North Island, New Zealand - Globetrotting horse riding holidays

Carolyn Ross

‘My thoughts are, save the best ’til last. The Glenorchy and Twin Coast rides were fantastic in their own special ways, but if you’re thinking of doing all three of Globetrotting’s New Zealand rides, then save River Valley for last. We spent many, many hours in the saddle with just the right amount of stops, either for a yummy lunch, a snack or a photo. Outside of riding time we were totally entertained, be it a swim in the river (we swam the horses too), a spa, a sauna, a marae visit, white water rafting – to name a few. We met the local community and had a great, relaxing horsey holiday. The scenery and wildlife were fantastic and the guides were awesome. The lodges were well equipped with all the creature comforts, and a beautiful river to swim in a stone’s throw away. The horses are bitless, barefoot and happy, which adds a new dimension to your ride. My horse Shamrock was very handsome and very confident in his own abilities. You could take him anywhere. The more riding experience you have, the more you’ll get out of this holiday.’

STORIES FROM THE SADDLE

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