Rongo Backpackers & Gallery




Hostelz.com's Review

Rongo Backpackers is placed in the wonderful setting of the Westcoast. Karamea can be reached from Westport by bus or car or by walking the Heaphy Track. Rongo Backpackers is basically run by volunteers and this adds to the atmosphere. It truly is a very special place and not only a backpacker but also an artist retreat. So there is a high chance to meet local or even international artists of all kinds.

The building used to be a maternal hospital and has been painted in the colours of the rainbow. A beautiful garden surrounds the building. A firebath is situated in the garden -- it can be used free of charge. Inside there are plenty of artworks, paintings, sculptures, and photographs. The common area is spacious and coy and invites travelers to meet fellow travelers. There is no television but they do have a large book selection, games, chess board, piano, broadband internet, and a card phone. The fees are donation-based.

The kitchen is very well equipped, including a bread-baking machine. Tea and coffee are provided. The building is partly run by solar panel energy. There are two showers and three toilets -- bathroom facilities are generally clean. Washing machine and dryer can be used. The hostel has one dorm with four bunk beds, one shared mixed dorm with twelve bunk beds, and three twin rooms. Pillows and bedsheets are provided but no duvets.

The hostel has its own community radio station and guests are welcome to do their own radio show. They offer off-street parking and pickup from the Heaphy Track. A supermarket and post office are only five hundred meters away.
by Daniela Oltersdorf
Hostelz.com Staff Reviewer
March 2007


(Location is approximate. You may need to pan/move to find "Rongo Backpackers & Gallery" at 130 Waverley Street.)


130 Waverley Street, Karamea, New Zealand
-41.247996, 172.113393
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Hostelz.com Guest Reviews

Beware staying or volunteering!
Of all my travels around the world volunteering, this was the only place I felt compelled to report to the authorities. Indeed there is a strange atmosphere here and the rainbow paint-job hides a business so greedy for money that it's disgusting. As a volunteer, we had to work up to 10 hours per day on the farm, in the hostel, in the gardens for just a bed. Any food came as scraps from the veggie garden (veggies they couldn't sell locally). They offer some sort of exchange program but the sweet guy I met had been there for 1 year, with very little English and he was worked like a slave. Paul, the owner, is indeed obnoxious and rude. The smile in every photo you see him in hides a ruthless businessman. Slave labour and still charges guests $30 a night. Stay clear.
Age 38, USA
Very special and inspiring place
My partner and I journeyed to karamea to check out rongo and paul's (the owner) larger project, the Living in Peace project. What we found was a dedicated team of workers and volunteers, passionate and inspired about sustainability, art, permaculture.
I was disappointed with my stay at Rongo after finishing the Heaphy track. The only thing I was looking forward to was a hot shower to relax and unwind but unfortunately the showers were cold and the rooms were dark and dingy. The owner Paul was rude, obnoxious and the place didn't even feel as clean as the huts we had stayed at on the track. Overall I was extremely disappointed in the quality of the accommodation for the price. Karamea is a lovely place and there are other accommodation options in town which would be a better option.
Kirsten Wallace
(New Zealand)
  Rongo is a very special and peaceful place that really epitomises everything good about travel and meeting new friends. The laid back and inviting attitude of the staff sums up this place in the sun. The open attitude of all i met there allowed me to relax after a long tramp and release the aches and pain that had built up on the Heaphy trail. The fire tub is not to be missed.
Simon Croson

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