Who Works at River Valley?
I often get asked, well almost told that most of our staff would be transitory backpackers, wouldn’t they be?
The person making the query is most surprised when I tell them, that no, other than the occasional wwoofer, (we call them cuzzies), all the staff are paid employees, and most are New Zealanders, with only a handful of foreigners. Well over half the staff are seasonal, often heading to the northern hemisphere in the offseason.
I thought in this post I would give a quick summary of who you may meet if you were to visit River Valley this season.
The Lodge Crew
Let’s start with management.
In theory, I (Brian) am still in charge, with daughter Janey being the Operations Manager, though she acts more like the boss each day.
Miranda, who has worked at River Valley for nearly 8 years, is the Head Chef and also oversees the Bar. The second chef is Jordan, who hails from the UK. This year is his second season. Jordan’s claim to fame was being honoured as Britain’s pie minister after winning a national pie-making competition a couple of years ago. Joining the chefs in the kitchen and working as kitchen hands can be locals Catherine, sister in law Coke or daughter Melissa.
Daughter Melissa and I have the (most important) job in the whole place, and that is keeping a good flow of vegetables from the gardens to the Lodge kitchen.
Coke & Miranda
The mainstay of looking after the Bar is Taihape raised, Ollie. He has been with us almost a couple of years now and will be sorely missed when he heads off to study in February next year. Ollie’s evenings off are covered by either nephew Max, Melissa, or river guide Kirk.
Amongst all the roles at River Valley, one of the least glamorous, but totally critical, would have to be housekeeping. Sister in law Coke is the Head Housekeeper. Her small hard-working team includes another Ollie (who we call Mickey to ease the confusion) and Hannah. Both Mickey and Hannah are from the UK.
If there is something I have noticed over the years, that is if there are ever any booking stuff-ups, then you blame reception. This finger-pointing can be tough for whoever is on reception as they not only have a very responsible role, but they are also expected, both by other staff and customers, to be the font of all knowledge. Sitting in the hot seat for a second season is Kat, with her days off being covered by either Janey, Miranda or Dani.
Talking of Dani, she is also, in addition to regularly covering reception, our Digital Media Manager and is highly likely to be the person who responds to your enquiries. Dani is also from the UK, but after working at River Valley for four years does not want ever to leave us, so is in the process of getting New Zealand residency.
With a business such as River Valley, there are a great many moving parts. There is the maintenance jobs, driving shuttles for rafting or horse trekking, picking up stores in Taihape and so on. Roger is the main man in these roles. Roger is a Kiwi but lived in New Caledonia for quite some time. He is also one of our go-to translators.
Roger & Dani
The Stables Team
My wife Nicola is the Operations Manager for River Valley Stables. Working with her, and just as passionate about horses are South Island girl, Autumn (Auty) now into her third season, and Australian, Ayla. This year is Ayla’s first season working in New Zealand.
The River Guides
Many river guides believe they are the centre of the universe and companies such as River Valley only exist to highlight this fact. The people at the centre of this River Valley rafting universe are French Canadian Derek, now into his 14th season (We think. Even he isn’t sure, but it’s been a very long time…) at River Valley, American Kirk, now into his 6th season, Kiwi-born Eddie, now in his 4th season, Issac in his second season, and nephew Max, also in his second season. Zac, from the UK has recently joined the team after having worked for some time on the Tongariro River. Jona is this seasons trainee.
Rounding out the rafting team is son in law Tom and daughter Janey. Tom has worked at River Valley longer than any other non-birth family member. He is a capable guide and also looks after other projects around the lodge and grounds, plus on occasion spends some time helping out the neighbours when they are short of farming help. I still raft guide on occasion.
That’s us! The reality is that you can find any one of us, on occasion, helping out somewhere where help is required. It is a great team, both professional, helpful and friendly.
I feel very proud to work with them.