New Zealand North: River Valley

NZ: Day 18

Chilling Out

Kia Ora! We left Taupo early in the morning. The two day stint in Taupo was a great way to meet back up with people from the bus behind and there were a couple of passenger swaps with some people waiting behind another day to catch up with mates and vice versa.

We made our way South on a two/ three hour journey through the heart of New Zealand, most of which I have to confess to being asleep; I guess the skydive, Tongariro exerts and mass amount of drinking had finally caught up on me!

After stopping off for another grocery haul, we descended into the completely rural valley. We would spend the next day or so at River Valley Lodge ($30) without any internet or phone signals in a small farm hut, where a couple of tractors whizzed people to and fro around the valley. In all honesty it was just what needed after a crazy few days and provided a chance for people to bond even further and kick back and relax in the summer sun.

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After we were introduced to all of the staff, we all sat next to the river, eventually building up enough courage to jump off the rocks into the river. There’s nothing quite like a refreshing dip to cure a hangover!

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We would dry out in the sun, drink beer, play cards and then jump back in again, repeating this process through to dusk. Bliss.

There was the opportunity to do some kayaking down the river, for which it is famed for. However, the river levels were extraordinary low and we were told that what would have been grade 5 rapids were grade 3 at best and required a lot of walking across dry river creeks. Having already kayaked in Paihia, we turned down the activity in favour of drinking beer and chilling out.

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By nightfall, a guitar was whacked out and, in that generic travelling image, people sat around a log fire ‘singing’. This was quickly abandoned as the sandflies started really coming out and biting EVERYONE!

Instead, we retreated indoors and spent the rest of the night playing a few games in the hut, mostly Jenga. The Jenga bricks had all been scratched into and tagged, ‘gemma woz ere, 2003’, ‘KiwiE 1997’, it was pretty mad knowing that people 20 years ago were doing the exact same as we were now!

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Sleeping was a lot of fun too, although again this mostly depends on how well you get on with your group- fortunately for us everyone got on a storm! The rooms were basically divided into two giant bunk beds- it was basically a huge sleepover. All in all a great day and night and just what was needed. Tomorrow we’ll spend another chilled day out in the sun then head to Wellington!

River Valley Lodge: $30/£15 p/n     ****

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