Glenorchy, at the head of Lake Wakatipu is the gateway to stunning wilderness areas and the 44 kilometre drive from Queenstown is arguably one of the most scenic routes in New Zealand.
While the town is the jumping off point for great walks and adventure activities it is also home to the Headwaters, which is the umbrella for a diverse range of environmentally sustainable tourism accommodation and retail services.
The Headwaters includes a redeveloped general store known as Mrs Woollys and Camp Glenorchy, which is made up of individual cabins, bunk huts, camping, glamping and campervan sites, an activities booking centre and a community hall and is making its mark as New Zealand’s first net zero energy visitor destination.
Five years ago, American investors, Debbie and Paul Brainerd, purchased the Glenorchy general store and campsite and their vision was to invest in the site and the community and develop an environmentally and financially sustainable business.
There has been a strong response to the innovative Headwaters facilities from both New Zealanders and international visitors.
“Visitors to New Zealand are increasingly discovering the natural charms of rural New Zealand as people look beyond Queenstown to the range of things to do in the region,” says Headwaters managing director, Kieran Frost.
He says Mrs Woolly’s has become a significant drawcard for visitors to the head of the lake.
“There has been a general store in Glenorchy since the 1880s. The existing store opened in the 1950s selling ice cream, chips and fishing licenses alongside the camping ground providing a perfect holiday spot in a spectacular setting with easy access to outdoor adventures.”
Today Mrs Woollys sells a selection of fresh and healthy food made on site with a focus on local organic produce, as well as beautiful and unique gifts, clothing and homewares. True to its name the general store also stocks a range of daily necessities.
Camp Glenorchy is much more than just a camp ground, providing regular yoga classes, other events and several community initiatives throughout the year.
Queenstown residents are increasingly using the facilities for weekend retreats and Kieran says Camp Glenorchy hosts weddings, family reunions and corporate events with catering options available from wholesome picnic hampers to lavish dinner parties.
He says one of the attractions of the Headwaters is that peoplecan contemplate the wonder of nature while helping take better care of it.
“We are incorporating energy saving designs to maximise the potential of the energy saved and produced on site. We are using the Living Building Challenge, which is the world’s most rigorous green building standard, as the framework to guide our focus on sustainability at Camp Glenorchy.”
The Headwaters has established the Glenorchy Community Trust as a means of giving back to the community. An independent trust administers the profits from the collective businesses, and grants support initiatives which enhance the Glenorchy area.