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"To us, trips feel like we're out doing the things we love with a group of good friends and that's exactly how it is at Hidden Valleys."
- Grant South (Southy)

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Golden Oldies

Yearly Reunion Rafting trips in New Zealand

Several years ago Southy put together a Clarence trip with a few of the local farmers and others that had helped him out over the years. The group has grown year after year, river after river, into a hard case bunch of lifelong friends with diverse backgrounds. From the first Golden Oldies trip over ten years ago, we have gone on to raft nearly all the commercially run, multi-day rivers in New Zealand.

Peel Forest is the home of artist and passionate mountaineer Austin Deans. Friend Ed Cotter is one of New Zealand’s most celebrated mountaineering pioneers. Together with other local celebrities and personalities, the trips are a celebration of the values and benefits that living alongside nature has to offer.

The group, many in their 70s, 80s and even 90s, seem to get keener year by year and as we struggle to find new rivers for them to conquer, we’re thinking we may have to head off shore!

The campfire stories are worth the wait, as many edited parts of their interesting lives are recounted around the fire, aided by a drop or two of their preferred tipple. It’s inspirational, as well as a privilege, for us to spend time in New Zealand’s back country with people whose values embrace and appreciate the best qualities of New Zealand’s land and its mountains. Long may these trips continue!

I have accompanied Southy on several of his Golden Oldies’ rafting trips, when he takes a group of local identities on rivers such as the Waiau, Landsborough, Waiototo and Karamea, to name but a few. Most of the rafting group are aged between 60 and 90 years of age and it’s fabulous for the group to still be able to access the back country that has been, and still is, such a big part of their lives. One of the major advantages is that the group never has to carry heavy packs or sweat up steep hill sides – a bonus on any trip! From the comfort of their rafts, the group enjoys the magnificent surroundings of whichever river they happen to be rafting. Stops are made for delicious lunches with billy tea. Evening meals often include venison and trout caught along the way and cooked over a campfire. Long sessions of storytelling of the day’s trip, or previous trips, continue into the night. These trips are an amazing way for me to spend time with some of New Zealand’s older outdoor identities and visit spectacular back country, often inaccessible by any other means. Thanks for asking me along Southy.

Syd Woods