The Headwaters, Glenorchy

Beautiful South, Pristine New Zealand

wooden cabin interior, large double bed, breakfast tray on bed

As you may be aware by now, New Zealand Walking Tours is a relatively new innovation from the guys behind Active Adventures. And as we’re sure you can imagine, when designing four brand new trips travelling to new locations, there are a lot of important logistical decisions to be made along the way. Decisions such as maximum group size (12 guests per trip, by the way), which restaurants we’ll eat in, which trails we’ll walk, and what time, roughly, each important event of the day will take place.

Arguably the most important of these decisions is which accommodations we’ll stay in on each of our four trips, in order to make the experience as unique and special as possible. We’ve picked the accommodations for New Zealand Walking Tours based on their location and quality – and often they’ll be places we stayed as a family when we were growing up, or where we like to escape to for a long weekend. Everywhere we’ll stay is unique and beautiful, and we’ll usually stay in each place for two nights.

So now that the accommodations are chosen we (the folks in the marketing team) get the exciting job – we get to visit these beautiful places, and meet the teams we’ll be working with in order to make your trip the trip of a lifetime. Our first stop, only around 40 minutes’ drive from our Queenstown HQ, was Camp Glenorchy, where we’ll stay on our ‘Pristine New Zealand’ and ‘Beautiful South’ trips.

Camp Glenorchy is the only brand new accommodation we’ve chosen for New Zealand Walking Tours, and so we were really looking forward to seeing the place in its final stages of construction. We arrived at the beautiful wooden shopfront of Mrs Woolly’s General Store, and were greeted by Katherine, The Headwaters’ Marketing Manager, Peter, Camp Glenorchy’s General Manager, and Fiona, Camp Glenorchy’s Sales Manager.

The Headwaters is the brand which encompasses the beautifully quaint Mrs Woolly’s General Store – where you can buy souvenirs, hiking essentials, snacks, and fresh, healthy treats – Mrs Woolly’s Campground, and Camp Glenorchy, where we’ll stay on our trip.

Over the course of the afternoon we were introduced to the philosophy of The Headwaters, and the incredible design and engineering that has gone into creating Camp Glenorchy in a small town only a matter of miles from a place that really is called Paradise.

Perched at the head of Lake Wakatipu, and surrounded on three sides by stunning mountains which include the high peak of Mt Earnslaw (2830m/9249ft), sits the town of Glenorchy – a peaceful haven away from the relative tumult of Queenstown. The sleepy town is at the end of arguably New Zealand’s most beautiful driving journey, along the shores of Lake Wakatipu from Queenstown. Glenorchy is on the border of Fiordland and Mount Aspiring National Parks, and so building an accommodation which compliments the beauty of the natural surroundings is no small feat.

The cabins of Camp Glenorchy are the most impressive buildings we’ve ever seen. Outside, the stone mosaic of the outdoor seating area blends in perfectly with the breath taking landscape of the surroundings. And within, the fine woollen blankets on the king sized beds, the heated floor warm to the touch, the stressed copper bathroom fittings, and the local artwork on the walls mean these cabins are beautifully appointed. Add to all that a level of soundproofing that must be heard to be believed, and you’ve got a truly unique experience in overnighting in one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

Sustainability, Responsibility, and the Local Community

One of the reasons we chose The Headwaters to be part of our New Zealand Walking Tours experience is its commitment to sustainability. In your cabin at Camp Glenorchy, for example you’ll have:

  • Composting toilets that don’t flush or smell! These toilets will produce nutrient rich compost for the gardens.
  • Water that fell as recent rain, which is naturally treated, and then heated by being continuously pumped deep into the ground and returned to the surface.
  • Low energy, motion sensitive lighting.
  • Ground sourced underfloor heating.
  • Skylights which disperse and amplify natural light.

As you explore the Campground area, you’ll also see three artificially built wetland areas responsible for cleaning the waste water produced by the guests, and a field of photovoltaic (solar) cells, which account for nearly all of the site’s electricity production. In the gardens you’ll find only native plants that can tolerate a wide spectrum of conditions, right up to drought, to reduce the requirement for watering.

As you explore the communal areas such as the large Homestead Building, you’ll see giant wooden beams that were recovered from buildings destroyed by the Christchurch earthquakes. You’ll also find lots of information about Camp Glenorchy’s commitment to Net Zero energy, and using 50% less water and energy than similar accommodations. As we were shown around by Katherine and Peter, our minds were blown by all the ways this impressive team has reduced the footprint of what is a sizeable project in a stunning part of the world.

In our opinion though, what is most impressive about Mrs Woolly’s General Store, and The Headwaters more broadly, is that it is a charity. All of the profits from this beautiful and unique accommodation will go directly to benefit their host town of Glenorchy, via the Glenorchy Community Trust, and we think that is very special.

Glenorchy has seen visitor numbers rise, year on year, and is the gateway to the world famous Routeburn Track, as well as the Rees/Dart, and Greenstone/Caples tracks. Glenorchy requires investment in order to continue supplying visitors with the infrastructure required to enjoy a stop in such a beautiful part of the world, and The Headwaters is doing its bit to see that the town continues to be one of New Zealand’s most spectacular destinations.

Which Trips Include a stay at Camp Glenorchy?

Beautiful South – 10 days, Queenstown to Queenstown.
Pristine New Zealand – 13 days, Auckland to Queenstown.

For more information about the Headwaters in Glenorchy, and to find out when we stay here on our New Zealand Walking Tours, simply request a free travel brochure below – or follow the link above to view our trips.

marble top wash basin with copper fittings below large mirror
Simple, elegant wash basin of Camp Glenorchy’s cabin bathrooms.
sofa and cushions inside wooden cabin
Relax on the sofa in your cabin bedroom.
cabin bedroom with breakfast tray on bed
Breakfast is served! Camp Glenorchy cabin bedroom interior.
stone mosaic on ground beside cabin entrance
The stone mosaic of the private outdoor seating area is a beautiful touch.

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