River Valley Lodge is a lovely lodge that is in the middle of nowhere but surrounded by some stunning scenery. It’s a little bit off the beaten track (there were very few people staying there who weren’t on our bus) but worth seeking out.
The scenery on the way to River Valley was some of the best I’d seen at that point. You suddenly find yourself on windy roads through very high grassy hills and can see the landscape opening up in front of you to mountains in the distance. The lodge itself is quite homely accommodation rather than a typical hostel. The staff are very friendly and they serve delicious home-cooked food. The roast dinner on arrival was very welcome!
We wanted to explore when we first arrived so we went for a short walk up to a viewpoint. To get over the river we had to sit on a little cart suspended above the river which was on a pully system. It was good fun but certainly helped if you had someone the other side helping to pull you up. The path to the top was very steep and quite scary in parts (the path was falling away in places) but the view from the top was worth it and it was a great spot to catch the early evening sunshine.
River Valley is possibly best known for its rafting and whilst I was very tempted to go, I opted to go horse riding instead as I thought it would be a great way to see some more of the landscape. The horses are trained using natural horsemanship so they have no shoes and no bit. As a result it was a slightly different riding style than I am used to but we had some time in the paddock to practice and get used to our horses before we headed out. On the trek everyone was in charge of their own horse and were given freedom to go at the pace and path that you felt most comfortable with. The trek itself was beautiful. As I had hoped it was a great way to see the scenery and feel more “at one with nature”.
I left River Valley having had a great time and half wishing we had stayed an extra night so that we could have tried the rafting as well but the South Island beckoned…