For businesses, one enduring memory of the Covid pandemic will be the questions asked around “what now” and “what does the future look like”.

Here at River Valley, we have asked ourselves these questions and come up with some answers that involve taking our business in a new direction. I have outlined some of that thinking in previous blog posts. Still, primarily, it involves concentrating on delivering quality experiences to our guests, whether on an adventure, through the food we provide, connecting guests with nature, or the workshops we are starting to offer.

In this new direction, we have realised that we do not want to go back to hordes of people arriving daily. Our new approach is most probably not possible with too many people on-site at one time.

Now some might say, with a fair bit of truth, that hordes of people arriving daily, particularly those from overseas, is not likely to be a problem for another couple of years, if ever again at all. They may be right.

However, whenever changes in direction are required, some tough decisions are often needed for a business or life. We have had to make some such decisions.

For the last 26 years, since 1995, we have enjoyed a great relationship with the adventure travel network, Kiwi Experience. Primarily carrying young overseas backpackers, their daily arrival at River Valley over summer, and less often in winter, was our business mainstay. In response to the growth of Kiwi Experience, we have built a range of facilities. Those facilities will stand us in good stead going into the future.

River Valley would not be what it is now if that relationship had not stood the test of time. It is something we will treasure always, and to be honest, it was often a lot of fun. Many of the drivers, in particular, have become life long friends.

However, we have concluded after much soul searching that even if sometime in the future the big green buses are again part of the New Zealand tourism landscape, River Valley will not be on the main route. This is not to say that we are totally abandoning our relationship with Kiwi Experience. Instead, we hope to continue this relationship by hosting much smaller niche groups. River Valley will still have much to offer younger adventurous travellers.

It has not been easy coming to this decision—the end of a quarter of a century of doing things a certain way.

So in saying all the above, we wish to say thank you to the owners and management of Kiwi Experience for supporting and valuing River Valley as a part of the network. Thank you to all the drivers who brought those thousands of adventurous young people to our doors and who believed in us and shared their love of the place with their passengers.

And thank you to all those people on all those buses who shared their love of River Valley with others. We hope to see you revisit us one day.

Finally, a shout out to all those who worked at River Valley over the years, particularly those who added so much to the experience those young backpackers, and others, received during their stays with us. Thanks to you all.

Nga Mihi Nui

Brian and Nicola Megaw, Janey and Tom Harrison, and the River Valley family

Thanks to Felicity Jean Photography for some photos of Kiwi Experience at the lodge

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