Before booking a ride we recommend you check your riding ability using our guide below:
Beginner – reasonably confident riding a horse at a walk, a rising trot, and learning to canter.
Intermediate – confident and in control on a moving horse at all paces outside an arena, but not riding regularly.
Strong intermediate – an intermediate rider who is currently riding regularly (outside an arena) and is comfortable in the saddle for at least six hours per day.
Advanced – a frequent rider who is very fit, has an independent seat and soft hands, and is confident on a forward-moving horse at all paces over rough and variable ground on open terrain.
- Minimum Age 13 Years
- Maximum weight 95 kg / 210lbs
- This ride is not suitable for first time riders
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 over 10,000 acres of neighbouring accessible land to explore each day, you’ll never ride the same trail twice, and will retire each evening to a fifth generation family-owned lodge. 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?
Brief Trip Itinerary
Drive to River Valley Lodge, arriving at midday or earlier and check into your deluxe accommodation. 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! 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 riders, your comfortable, cosy bed will be calling.
After filling up on a hearty breakfast at the Lodge, everyone will head out to catch, feed, groom and saddle 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 picnic lunch break in a shady spot along the trail. There’ll be steep hills, groves of native bush, rocky plateaus, sweeping views of Mt Ruapehu 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 back at the stables after a glorious day in the saddle. There will be time to freshen up in your rooms before enjoying another hearty dinner served in the restaurant at the lodge where you’ll be able to once again enjoy the classic Kiwi hospitality of your hosts.
Waking up to the sound of the river rushing past the lodge, you’ll fill up on breakfast before heading out to enjoy another full day in the saddle. 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 atop local landmark Pukeoahu (Hill of the Hawk) 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.
After a final breakfast at the lodge, you’re free to depart at your leisure or linger a while longer.
We highly recommend sticking around a little longer and trying one of our rafting trips if you have the time.
What we provide
- 2 Nights in deluxe ensuite accommodation at River Valley Lodge
- 2 Full days of riding, and half a day of riding on the day of arrival.
- Three hearty home prepared and cooked meals are provided each day. Included is lunch on the first day and breakfast on the day of departure, unless you are travelling home on the evening of the last day.
- All equipment – Riding Boots, helmet, short chaps, and long oilskin riding coats for changeable weather.
What Is Not Included:
- Transport to/from River Valley Lodge
- Travel insurance
- Additional accommodation, meals or activities at River Valley before or after the trip
- Alcohol (due to our bar license we can’t allow BYO)
The lodge is situated in a picturesque setting beside the Rangitikei River with a restaurant and bar on site.