What Makes Fiordland Eco-Retreat An ‘Eco’-Retreat?

This webpage outlines the measures taken at the physical Eco-Retreat; if you wish to see our ‘eco’ credentials and discover what initiatives we are taking on a business level, please see our Sustainability Initiatives page.


  • Solar panels power the accommodation and heat the hot tub. The steep roof pitch allows the sun’s rays to optimally reach the solar panels, based on Te Anau’s latitude.
  • The day’s energy is stored in a Tesla solar battery, for use at night / during a power cut.
  • We export excess solar energy to the grid; anything drawn from the power grid will always be renewable energy, through Ecotricity. Last year, the Eco-Retreat used net zero power from the grid, effectively making it off-grid.


  • All water on-site is Fiordland rainwater, collected from the property’s roof and stored in three large 27,000 litre rainwater tanks at the rear of the property. This water passes through multiple filters and a UV light prior to use, making it completely safe to drink.
  • The shower head is extremely water efficient. Taps and and the washing machine are also very water-efficient. Toilets all have dual flush options.


  • All wastewater is managed on-site, using a wormery and dispersal field. The waste is split into grey and black water, with all black water being directed to a large chamber filled with tiger worms, which break up any matter. This then passes through two further filtration chambers, which purify the water until it is able to dispersed over the hillside in front of the house (next to the front gates). Any grey water from the house (shower / laundry) only passes through the final two chambers.


  • Anything placed in the guests’ compost bin will make its way into our home composting system. Recycling is separated out.
  • Only plant-based cleaning products are used (please note: we have carefully selected products that have been scientifically proven to be effective against Covid-19).


  • Sustainability underpins every decision that we make as a business, and we will always carefully consider the lifecycle of anything that we purchase. We follow our own sustainable supply chain and sustainable procurement policies.
  • Toiletries are provided in large pump bottles, which are sanitised between bookings. We hate single-use plastic!
  • Locally-roasted coffee beans are used in the espresso coffee machine.
  • Milk comes fresh from a local farm, in reusable glass bottles (subject to availability).
  • The electric hot tub (sourced locally in Wanaka) is powered by the sun.
  • The central heating within the house is created via an air-source heat pump, which is powered by solar electricity / Tesla solar battery. This heat pump heats up water pipes within the concrete pad, and was the most efficient heating option available at the time of building (digging down into the ground to enable geothermal heating was too cost-prohibitive).
  • Both the washing machine and tumble dryer are extremely efficient in both water and energy use. The tumble dryer was the most efficient available at the time of purchase (a heat-pump dryer). Plant-based washing powders are used, which is always available to guests free of charge whenever they wish to wash their belongings.

House Construction

  • The house is designed to blend in with its natural surroundings.
  • It is timber-framed, with its walls consisting of thick NZ wool insulation and ‘natural’ paint. This ensures that walls are breathable (hygroscopic) so that rooms naturally remain at optimal humidity for human occupants (and don’t become too dry or too humid).
  • Passive solar gain (resulting from the sun shining onto its polished concrete floors in northerly-facing rooms) means that warmth from the pad is slowly released during the day. The concrete came from the local cement works, less than 5km away.
  • Solar shading reduces the amount of sun that enters the house at the height of summer, so the concrete pad remains cooler and actually helps to maintain lower temperatures during the summer months.
  • Double-glazed windows are filled with argon gas, and are thermally-broken wherever possible.
  • The hallway has a solar tube, reducing the need for any electric lighting during the day.
  • Carpets are 100% wool.
  • Only local builders were used.

Native Plants & Reforestation Project

  • All landscaping on the property is native NZ plants, except for our fruit tree orchard and our gum trees, which we use for firewood.
  • We run our own Reforestation Project, also known as a ‘Native Forest Restoration Programme’, for which we plant a native tree on our land for every booking that we receive. We anticipate that reforesting the 2 hectare section back to (what we believe to have been) its original state will require approximately 4,000 native plants. We’re almost halfway there. We’re also throwing some native plants into the mix that may not have originally grown here, but which are great for the birds and the bees!
  • We do not use any herbicides. If we do need to use a weed-killer, we use an organic pine oil.
  • Many of our power tools, including our chainsaw and scrub-bar are electric, rather than diesel / petrol powered.

Predator Trapping

We currently have 1 possum trap and 6 stoat traps here at the Eco-Retreat, which we monitor regularly. Our young son, Harrison is fully embracing the need to trap pests to protect our environment, and often encourages other young guests to “come and see the traps!”. Glen may then demonstrate how they work, if they’re interested. All of the traps have safety fittings to ensure that they will not harm children and / or dogs.

We will probably look to increase the number of traps that we have over the next few years.