River Valley, Kiwi Experience and Relationships
On Saturday night, the 12th October, Nicola, Janey, Tom and I went to the Kiwi Experience Birthday party held in Auckland. This party, which was quite a big fun affair, celebrated the 30th birthday of the company that has become New Zealand’s leading hop on, hop off, adventure travel operator. Kiwi Experience primarily deals with younger people that still call themselves “backpackers”, but to a large extent no longer have backpacks, instead big (sometimes very big) wheelie bags.
During that 30 years of operation, 24 years have been spent coming to River Valley. While we are not the destination that Kiwi Experience has been going to longest, I believe that belongs to Basil’s in Westport; River Valley is the longest where there has been no change of ownership.
In an industry such as tourism, this is quite an achievement in itself. Over time, destinations tend to fall in and out of favour. Sometimes this is because their offering is dated or no longer relevant to today’s traveller, while other times it is just fashion. People want the latest fad.
When the buses first started coming to the Lodge in 1995, Janey, who is now the Operations Manager and a Director of River Valley, was still at secondary school. Over the last 24 years, many of the drivers of those buses have become friends and a part of our lives. Catching up with these people, some of whom we had not seen for years, was for me the highlight of the night.
This history brings me to one of the main points of this post.
This main point is relationships.
What made the party so great was feeling a part of the whanau, or family, of Kiwi Experience. And also feeling this reciprocated by many drivers who said they also felt part of the River Valley family. Relationships take time to grow and mature, and it would not be honest to say that at times, there are not a few bumps along the way. To resolve any issues and grow above them is a mark of maturity, and sometimes needs plenty of patience.
However, it would also be untrue to say that Kiwi Experience only continues to come to River Valley because we have a lovely cozy relationship. Both Kiwi Experience and River Valley have had to move with the times.
Moving with the times has involved regularly looking at both refining and improving what we offer. The need to give our customers a great experience never goes away.
With this in mind, it was very heartening to again, on the night, be presented with awards. This year River Valley was presented with the Drivers Choice Award for Best Accommodation, and also, the Drivers Choice Award for Best Activity – in this case, our Grade 5 Rafting trip on the Rangitikei River.
To be presented with any kind of award is always pleasing, and to be honest, a nice stroke for the ego. But to be recognised in this fashion, where you are compared to many of the great experiences that New Zealand has to offer, and recognised as providing some of the best, is especially pleasing.
So thanks Kiwi Experience, and especially a huge thank you to the extended Kiwi Experience whanau.
Nga mihi nui e te whanau Kiwi Experience
In October 1989, the very first Kiwi Experience trip departed Auckland with a full bus to travel New Zealand.