Fire pit and Cabin

Riverside Retreat: Relaxation in Northern Manawatu

emilysintransitJanuary 8, 2022

You hear the river running nearby, and a morepork hoots in the distance. Your body is submerged in a warm bath as the cool night air brushes your face. Candlelight illuminates your surroundings, and the flames dance as they reflect in the water. You look up, and all you can see is the silhouette of trees and a blanket of stars. You’re alone with the universe, the world is yours, and there is nothing left to do but relax.

This feeling of peace and calm is what awaits you when you stay at the Riverside Retreat in Northern Manawatu. The cabin is owned and operated by the Makoura Lodge and is the perfect spot for an idyllic summer getaway. Beautiful walks, amazing river to swim in, fire pit. This place has it all.

Outdoor bath at the Riverside Retreat

Getting to the Riverside Retreat Cabin

The Riverside Retreat Cabin is about 40 minutes from Fielding if you’re driving from the south and one hour from Taihape if you’re coming from the North. We drove up from Wellington, and it took about 3 hours which included stopping for supplies and sitting in some summer traffic.

Once you arrive, you park in the main car park, and one of the wonderful staff members will drive you and all your stuff down to the cabin in a 4WD. The road is steep and uneven, so it is definitely not something a regular car can handle.

Due to the isolated nature of the cabin, it’s a good idea to have everything you need with you when you arrive, including food and drinks. It is possible to walk back up to your car, but it will take about 20 minutes, and then the nearest supermarket is in Fielding, 40 minutes away. Even though the isolation isn’t the most convenient, it does make this the perfect spot to discount and focus on yourself for a few days.

The Riverside Retreat Cabin

Staying at the Riverside Retreat Cabin

The Riverside Retreat Cabin is located right next to the river, with nothing around but the beauty of nature. The cabin has a small bench with a sink, outdoor BBQ for cooking, a bathroom with a shower and toilet, an extremely comfortable bed and an outdoor bath.

The cabin is completely off the grid, so there is no indoor power but plenty of candles, torches, and lanterns. The hot water runs off an infinity gas cylinder, so you will never have to worry about it running out. 

Bed Riverside Retreat

It was a beautiful summer’s day when we arrived, so we immediately headed down to the river to cool off. There are outdoor bean bags provided, so once you’ve finished swimming, you can dry off relaxing by the water’s edge.

We had a simple BBQ for dinner. There’s no fridge, so you need to BYO chilly bin to keep your food and drinks nice and cold, but everything else you need to cook is provided.

After dinner, we popped some bubbles, ran the outdoor bath and then relaxed as the sunset, the sky turned a beautiful shade of pink and purple. Once the stars came out, we lit the outdoor fire and watched the night sky while roasting the marshmallows that waited for us in the cabin.

Outdoor bath at night

Things to do at the  Riverside Retreat Cabin 

When you stay somewhere like the Riverside Retreat, the main goal is to sit back, relax and detach from it all. This is made a lot easier because there is no Wifi or cell service.

Start your day with coffee in the bath, wander down to the river for a swim or read a book in the hammock. However, if you feel like being a bit more adventurous, you can do a few things in the area.

Farm walk

There’s a loop track on the property that takes about an hour to complete. First, you will have to walk up to the lodge just to let the staff know you’re going on the walk (for safety), and then you’re off. The track takes you past some beautiful limestone cliffs, the onsite 4WD course, and there’s even a waterfall.

Rangiwahia Scenic Reserve

If you’re looking for some more walks, then the Rangiwahia Scenic Reserve is about a 30 minute drive away. The Reserve is filled with old rimu trees and has a short one-hour loop track, or you can opt for the longer three-hour lookout track.

Limestone Creek Reserve Glow Worm Caves

If the heat of summer is too much, then you might want to try visiting Limestone Creek Reserve Glow Worm Caves because it’s best to go at night. The caves are a 30 minute drive away, and the walk itself is only 600m. Take a torch, be prepared to get wet feet, and see some spectacular glow worms.

Onsite Activities

The main lodge also offers a range of activities such as archery, axe throwing and a 4WD safari. These have an additional cost and require 48 hours notices if you want to book one. You’re also welcome to have a drink in the beautiful lodge garden and play with the giant Jenga set.

Sunset at the Riverside Retreat

Where to eat

It is best to bring all the food you want to eat with you; however, if you aren’t keen on cooking, the lodge offers a meal deal. We decided to get the meal deal for one night of our three-night stay.

The staff will deliver the meal package directly to the cabin, and it included

  • A platter of meats, cheese and snacks
  • Bottle of bubbles
  • Main course
  • Dessert
  • Breakfast
  • Fruit

The deal was more than enough for us both, and we ended up having the leftover casserole and potatoes from the main course for lunch the next day. All the food was delicious and a nice change from the BBQ meals we had been making.

If you’re keen to go further afield, there are taverns in the nearby towns of Āpiti and Cheltenham, but they run on small-town hours, so they might not always be open.  

Bubbles and snack from the meal deal

Final thoughts on the Riverside Retreat

If you like feeling like you have the whole world to yourself, then the Riverside Retreat is the perfect spot for you. The isolated nature of the cabin allows you just to relax. So while you will be going without some comforts of home (like light switches), the lack of modern-day convenience will be made up for with the stunning scenery and feelings of freedom just to do whatever you feel like.

Fire pit and Cabin

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