Camp Glenorchy Case Study

Philanthropists Paul and Deborah Brainerd were granted consent in 2014 to buy the Glenorchy holiday park and general store.

Describing their restoration and development of the property as their ‘gift’ to the community, the couple from the United States have spent $40 million to build new accommodation and to upgrade the existing facilities. Camp Glenorchy is described as an ‘eco-retreat’ located about 45 minutes from Queenstown, a beautiful drive along the scenic Lake Wakitipu.

Some in the community were initially sceptical, believing that overseas investors were looking to maximise profit at the expense of a community. However, it soon became clear that the Brainerd’s simply wanted to create a warm, friendly and sustainable gathering place for both locals and tourists that provided accommodation and meeting spaces.

Collectively known as “The Headwaters”, the project has seen the redevelopment of the campground facilities, development of the new eco-retreat cabins and the refurbishment of the general store. One goal of the project is to give back to the community and a community trust was established to receive the future profits of the project. Grants are now being distributed by local trustees to the community, supporting education, environment and sustainably focused special projects.

Sustainability is at the centre of Camp Glenorchy’s architectural design. The buildings are ‘living buildings;’ they are water and energy positive. The investment has also included a boost to the community’s employment opportunities and technological infrastructure – high speed internet was installed which not only supported the business’s development, but also benefitted the wider community and local school.

Approved by the Overseas Investment Office, this investment not only builds a place that enriches the community, it has integrated the work of local artists and craftspeople, and now provides high quality accommodation in Glenorchy and jobs to local community members.