Down a long winding road through green rolling hills that characterise New Zealand’s North Island, is the remote backpacker lodge called River Valley. The place is a hub for white water rafting and horse trekking using traditional methods.
Both of which I didn’t do due to funds running out dangerously quickly – something that can easily happen when you travel with the Kiwi Experience bus with all the amazing New Zealand activities to sign up to.
Despite missing out on the activities at River Valley, it was actually just a really cool place to stay and hang out with some new-found Kiwi Experience friends. The first thing that got everyone all excited was the so-called ‘Spooning Rooms’ we could sleep in. This was a massive bunk bed in what can only be described as a barn. All the mattresses were pushed up together, hence the spooning.
The photo makes the room look a lot warmer than it was. I am just glad I had my thermals to sleep in.
When we were not all spooning, we hung out downstairs in the common area. Centralised with a huge fireplace and with sensational mulled wine going at the bar, it was a cosy and warm atmosphere. The combination of giant Jenga, drinks, snug sofas, and our driver had brought some knock-off game of Uno, meant this stay at River Valley was a real bonding session for our Kiwi Experience bus. When old boring adults used to tell us as children that board games are good for character building and bonding, or whatever, we never believed them, right? Finally, a situation has occurred where, indeed, this is true!
One of the highlights of River Valley is this dodgy “bridge”, which is actually a plank of wood attached to a bit of rope to pull yourself across the river. This is supposed to lead you to a walk up the valley. For once, I did not do the walk but just partook in the ultimate adrenalin activity which was getting across the water without falling in. It was fun.
With no cell phone service, River Valley is the place for old fashioned fun. The kitchen was a little small but this didn’t mean you could make a quick dinner. The bar offered some delicious-looking meals otherwise. If you are looking for outdoorsy experiences, then River Valley is ideal. I’d love to visit in summer – maybe next time I’ll do white water rafting.