Introducing New Zealand’s most sustainably-designed accommodation

Ali Coulton

Forget roughing it by candlelight in a tent, the eco-friendly folk over at Camp Glenorchy have come up with a much easier way to choose sustainable accommodation.

Located about 40 minutes from Queenstown by car, Camp Glenorchy is the first ever guest accommodation and meeting venue designed according to the Living Building Challenge (LBC) – the most rigorous sustainability standards in the world.

Think of it as Camp Glenorchy, not campING Glenorchy,” Lisa Nilsen, the campgrounds Director of Marketing and Communications said during a press conference at CINZ’s MEETINGS trade show last week. 

“We’re New Zealand’s first net-zero energy range of guest and visitor accommodation. In fact, we think we’re probably the world’s first overnight accommodation property that has been built to the Living Building Challenge standard.”

“It’s a little bit like Green Star standard but on steroids.”

The LBC requires seven “petals” of sustainability discipline including energy, water, materials and beauty and asks, “What if every single act of design and construction made the world a better place?”


Camp Glenorchy has seven multi-bedroom ensuite cabins, two bunkhouses, seven powered RV/campervan sites, gathering spaces for guests in the artist-designed Scheelite Campfire Shelter and Homestead Building with shared kitchen, dining, and relaxing spaces, as well as dedicated conference, retreat and meeting rooms.

We’ve used recycled timbers and materials wherever we can, we’ve taken a lot of material from earthquake recovery from Christchurch, from woolsheds in the area that’ve been dismantled, from old buildings on site, and those have been built back into the environment where we can,” said Nilsen.

“Part of the living building challenge looks at being a biophilic or a natural environment and at Camp Glenorchy, we’re bringing the outside in.”

“We’ve got native plantings that are outside the cabins, and elements of those are brought into the cabins as well. We’ve got braided stone river walkways that come from outside through into the cabin and the meeting venues, so we’re trying to make it feel very natural in its environment.”

The campsite also offers a range of beautifully-appointed and resource-efficient meeting spaces and guest accommodation, seeking to inspire and share learnings about new standards in sustainable tourism.

Camp Glenorchy Mountain Flax cabin mid res[1] copy

Camp Glenorchy is part of The Headwaters, a unique triple-bottom-line model for visitor accommodation, hospitality and retail focused on environmental, financial and community sustainability.

Buildings are connected to the guest booking system, allowing rooms to be heated only when needed and the right amount of hot water to be stored for the number of people in each room.

State-of-the-art composting toilets are expected to save about 300,000 litres of water per year, and LED lighting used is so efficient that the lighting load for each three-bedroom cabin is equivalent to a single 200-watt light bulb.

An innovative heating system which uses ground-source heat pumps, deep heat bores and solar thermal collectors means Camp Glenorchy gets almost $4 worth of energy for every $1 spent running it.

All profits from Camp Glenorchy also go to the Glenorchy Community Trust, directed by leaders of the local community to support initiatives that enhance the livability and vibrancy of Glenorchy.