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Kathy’s New Zealand adventures – part three

09 Feb 2023 | Written by By Kathy Feest

The Joy Club member Kathy Feest transports us to the lush landscapes of New Zealand, describing river rides and bird-chirping soundscapes…

You can read the previous instalment of Kathy’s NZ adventures here

It took summer quite a long time to arrive and then stay put in New Zealand this year. No one from here remembers a January quite like this. One cyclone after another drenched everyone and kept us awake at night with its furious winds and lashing rain. Nevertheless, it was still warm and we still managed to put our rain gear on and walk.  



There was a respite over the early part of Christmas for many of us which was most welcome. We travelled south from Auckland, past Lake Taupo and onto Taihapi.  The photo out of the car window of the always snow covered Mount Ruapehu gives you an indication of the weather as we cruised towards our Christmas destination.



My husband is a fly fisherman and we are headed to his favourite fishing river in New Zealand. These fishing expeditions are one of the highlights of my NZ experience and I do not even fish!

We have stayed at this same lodge since we lived and worked in NZ for a year in 2009 and you can see why we return.  

The lodge is perched above the river and the splendid views down to the river and across the gorge soothe and delight. The river nestles below us and we are in splendid isolation.



We do our own cooking and before we travel towards the lodge we shop in the nearest town, Taihapi at the local supermarket, aptly named New World.  

The only sounds we hear at the equally aptly named River Retreat, come from the flowing water below us and the birds in the bush.  There is no wifi. At night, Mr or Mrs. Morpork is a delight for about the first five minutes. I’m grateful when this New Zealand owl finds another tree a few more yards away from our bedroom for their calls! The Maori name for the bird is the ruru. In Maori tradition, the bird was seen as a watchful guardian. Although the call was thought to be a good sign, it also was thought that it could be a forewarning of bad news or events because of its melancholic cry. Hope not!

You can listen to the ruru’s call here.

On Christmas Eve we head down the river accompanied by our capable guide Stephen who knows this river like the back of his hand. The Rangitikei river is a fast flowing, reasonably shallow river, that hurtles us along through the gorge. Stephen mans the oars and ties up the boat at our frequent stops so Terry can wade in the water and fish. When he sets his rod, I break out my notebook and pen.

The beauty around us is stunning.  The trees at the top of the gorge salute us as we pass them by, while waterfalls spout their crystal clearwater to the river far below. We spend two separate days on the river and we don’t pass a house, a power line, or another person. The caught fish are all released back into the river.



The constant flow of water is our music for the day. The natural sound of the river is punctuated only by the chirping of birds. The morporks sleep during the day! These magical moments are embedded in our souls throughout the year .

The last time we were on this stretch of the river everything was brown from the drought! What a difference after all that rain! Luminous green greets us the entire ten or twelve miles on both of our days. During that time on the Rangitikei, I wrote a story that was later broadcast on BBC Radio Bristol. I hope you enjoy the studio sounds their clever engineers added and hopefully, you too will be transported for a moment to a magical place.






Kathy Feest has a wealth of experience with writing, leadership and personal development mentoring. Kathy fulfilled her dream at the age of 41 and earned her first University degree; she went on to complete a PhD in Medical Education. She regularly runs self-development workshops at The Joy Club so keep your eyes on our events calendar for one of her next live sessions.

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