Camp Glenorchy Eco Retreat

New Zealand's first Zero Energy visitor accommodation.

Setting a new standard in sustainable tourism, Camp Glenorchy Eco Retreat is aiming to become the world’s first Net-positive Energy visitor accommodation site. Built as an exemplar demonstration project in alignment with the principles of the Living Building Challenge, Camp Glenorchy hopes to inspire guests from all over the world to kick-start sustainability transformations in their own homes and communities.

Unlike other Living Building Challenge Petal projects, Camp Glenorchy’s users change every few nights and have high expectations inherent to the hospitality sector. What makes the project even more unique is that the active participation of those staying at Camp Glenorchy is essential to achieving the site’s energy and water goals.  Forgoing traditional amenities such as TVs, guests are instead given the chance to reconnect with nature, enjoy the beauty of their surroundings, and have the option to discover how they can be part of a more sustainable future.

Located at the head of Lake Wakatipu, just a 45 minute drive from Queenstown, Camp Glenorchy blends seamlessly with its neighbours. While the buildings may look rustic on the outside, behind the scenes high-quality construction and innovative water- and energy-saving technologies are helping achieve Camp Glenorchy’s goal of reducing energy and water use by 50% when compared to similar facilities. More than 1600 meters and sensors installed across the site keep track of how these valuable resources are used. Energy is generated onsite via solar panels, which produce enough energy in a year to power 27 typical New Zealand homes.

Camp Glenorchy aims to create a warm, welcoming place that inspires visitors. To achieve this, buildings have been constructed with materials that are healthy for people and the environment, and have been designed to integrate with the surrounding environment. Artwork created by local and international artists can be found across the site, sometimes in the most unexpected places. Braided rivers made of riverbed stone representing the streambeds that form the headwaters of Lake Wakatipu, for example, cut through the Homestead building and blend with the landscaping. Native plants aim to attract birds and insects and reintroduce local flora into the township.

With inspiration & education being one of the goals of Camp Glenorchy, the site offers multiple learning opportunities that are communicated on many levels, from in-cabin tablets providing information that could influence a family’s everyday actions while staying in the rooms, to providing a living and working example of how the tourism sector could operate more sustainably. All this is done with the hope that visitors will develop a deeper understanding  of sustainability and take the lessons learnt during their stay back to their homes, workplaces, and communities and embark on their own journeys towards a more sustainable future.

Camp Glenorchy’s desire for widespread transformation starts in their own backyard, with all profits from the operation going to the locally administered Glenorchy Community Trust, which supports  the vibrancy and resilience of the town and its natural environment.

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