When I recently visited Queentown I made a trip to Glenorchy to see the recently opened, Camp Glenorchy. For those of you not familiar with Glenorchy, it’s at the northern most tip of Lake Wakatipu, about an hour out of Queenstown. It’s remote and surrounded by spectacular mountains giving it a real wilderness feel.
It’s the first accommodation in New Zealand to be 100 percent self-sufficient and consume zero energy off the electricity grid. The solar garden provides all the power and composting toilets significantly reducing water usage, making it a first for New Zealand.
It all came about with the help of Seattle philanthropists, Paul and Debbi Brainerd. They discovered Glenorchy on holiday a decade ago and are now semi- retired and love coming to this far away corner of the earth.
Four years ago, Debbi noticed a “for sale” sign on the neglected Glenorchy camping ground and with huge work, the community getting behind the project and determination and the rest is history.
The old camping ground has been completely transformed with new buildings and luxury modular type of cabin accomodations. Cabins can accommodate a family or can be reduced in size simply by the closing of a door. In addition, there are also impressive communal facilities, much of them made from recyled material including much timber from destroyed buildings from the 2013 Christchurch earthquake. Thermal wraps keep the building airtight and i-pads in each room control the temperature and length of the showers.
I couldn’t leave without using the lavatory, because I’m just too curious! For many the experience of a composting toilet is a DOC ‘long drop’ in the bush, but believe me this was different. The toilet looked and felt just like any other toilet yet it is waterless, odourless and chemical free. After about a year the natural, organic compost is ready to be added to the soil as a fertiliser.
With i-pads controlling the temperature and length of showers and thermal wraps to keep the buildings airtight, its camping in luxury. But not really camping. It’s far too swish for that. It’s ground breaking and a facility to be proud of. Next time you are down that way, stay at the Glenorchy Camp. I’m sure you will be nothing, but impressed.