The River Valley Ride, New Zealand

7 NightsIntermediate to AdvancedFrom $4,075 NZD?Tour costs $4,075 NZD which is approximately $3,843 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).



NEW! Secure your saddle seat NOW with a 10% deposit - as part of our 10x 10% payment plan!

PLEASE NOTE: As directed by our ride partner, all guests must be fully Covid-vaccinated to take part in this ride.


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.


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.

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.


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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

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.’

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

Wendy Bayley

‘The accommodation on this trip was outstanding, especially the glamping. The marae was just wonderful. The highlight was the input from the local community, which provided a special flavour to the experience and set this trek apart. The picnic in the glade with wine and cheese and the newly-erected timber pop-up bar was unparalleled! And, of course, the lodge itself was just wonderful. Fabulous staff, and the environment was perfect.
I rode Calibre and we got on just fine. Our guides did a wonderful job matching riders to horses. My favourite experience was swimming the horses. The whole holiday was outstanding and set the scene for many more very successful treks to follow.’

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

Helen Down

‘I have to say, I am finding writing anything about this adventure very difficult. In some way, I feel like I am still there. It was the best horse related experience I have ever had, even though I have ridden for 30+ years.
It was beyond anything that I could have imagined. Calling it a holiday goes nowhere near to describing those eight days. It was a real adventure – exhilarating, calming, peaceful, exciting, challenging, beautiful and an experience I will always treasure. The horses were fit, happy, independent and so confident in themselves. Mine – Dakota – was the best horse partner you could ever want on such an adventure. He was fit, energetic, honest, confident and so much fun, with impeccable manners, and he listened to me every step of the way. If I could have taken him home, I would have. And as for our two fabulous guides – I cannot imagine any other horse people who I would rather ride with.
The marae visit was out of this world and all the locals went completely out of their way to make sure we felt more than welcome and had everything we wanted. I loved the mountains we rode up, and the valleys we rode down into, the gallops across long rolling hills, the stops on the mountaintops to admire the views and the huge country that we had ridden or were about to ride that day. On one such hilltop, we stopped and were lucky enough to watch a band of wild Kaimanawa horses beneath us. They were so curious and beautiful. A sight I have never seen.
As a fellow kiwi, one thing that really stood out for me is that this ride is an opportunity to experience the real New Zealand High Country. This is not a touristy, commercial riding holiday option – this is the real deal, experiencing a slice of true kiwi life on the best horses.’

Meet a Globetrotter: Anthony Tietze - The River Valley Ride, New Zealand - Globetrotting horse riding holidays

Anthony Tietze

‘This was a special holiday where our hosts, Nicola and Tommy, went above and beyond to make the ride a success. Beautiful countryside with ample opportunity to go far a canter if you chose to. Riding through the rolling hills each day was something to remember and the eight nights gave us a little extra time to relax and maximise our enjoyment. The night at the marae was special, and swimming with the horses was great. We had a great group and, importantly, there was the opportunity to mix, talk and party with the locals every evening.’

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

Heidi Cooper

‘Wow, what a fantastic eight days we all had. Nicola and Janie are a fantastic team and the other two lovely guides who helped out every day were pretty special too. I felt so proud to be a New Zealander while on this trip. The land we rode over was spectacular, picturesque and at times very exciting, with some small challenges along the way. I always felt very welcome and cared for. I would recommend this trip to anyone – in fact, I would definitely do it again. The food was amazing, healthy and very tasty. After each ride we celebrated together and talked about our amazing day with drinks and snacks before dinner. I rode Dakota; he was a great choice for me, exactly what I asked for in the description I gave of my dream horse. Very safe and steady on the steep hills, he had energy but could be controlled easily. The support and care our guides gave us was so heartwarming; it felt like we had become family over eight days. I wish them all the best on all their rides to come.’

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

Michelle Lampe

‘The River Valley Ride was truly one of the most memorable experiences of my life. Amazing horses, people and scenery – what more could you ask for? I rode Miss T… I loved her and it was sad to say goodbye. She was comfortable and easy. She also had a very forward-moving walk and was easy to push into a trot or canter. The accommodation was varied, but we always had a comfy warm bed, and sleeping at the marae was quite a special experience. Nicola and Tommy were the best. Always accommodating, they had fantastic knowledge of the environment and the land owners. We couldn’t have asked for two better guides. I loved every day and every minute. The whole experience was unforgettable.’