Go green! New Zealand’s best eco retreats

By Lachlan Probyn,

When it comes to accommodation types, luxury and eco have not always been friends. One is glam, usually flanked with savvy mod cons, flashy lighting, and an entire series of bathroom amenities. The other is humbler, building a long and trusting relationship with mother nature, and keeping sustainability in full sight. Here in New Zealand, however, these two types have decided to be friends.

With everyone’s growing interest in green travel, it only seems natural that New Zealand would be at the forefront of the eco-hotel scene. From hideaway cottages to fully-fledged eco retreats, we’ve rounded up some of our favourite eco-friendly haunts certain to give you all the benefits of a luxurious hotel, guilt free.

The Resurgence Luxury Eco Lodge – Nelson

If you’re craving something quite literally off the beaten track, the posh Resurgence Luxury Eco Lodge makes for your perfect holiday hideaway. Cossetted between the Abel Tasman and Kahurangi national parks, Resurgence has been recognised by National Geographic as one of the world’s best eco lodges. With a backdrop of native bushland and a careful focus on water, resource, and waste management, it’s easy to why.

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Resurgence comprises of six bush suites and four lodge rooms, which all seamlessly pair an eco-focus with luxury features and amenities. Rooms in the lodge boast elegant furnishings made from recycled timber, as well as local wool carpets and fabrics to guarantee a toasty night in. Appreciate a colour palette of earthy, natural tones, and make use of the flat-screen TVs and iPod docking stations.

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If you’d prefer a one-to-one experience with nature, you can’t surpass the independent tranquility of the bush suites. They boast an open plan to promote natural air flow, and all feature floor heating and a dreamy massage shower to unwind in. If you’ve packed the bubbly, settle in on the private deck overlooking Kahurangi National Park and literally breathe in the serenity.

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The lodge also has its own water treatment plant, meaning all waste water is re-distributed into the land by an irrigation system. Within easy reach of Golden Bay, various walking tracks, and art and wine cycling trails, a stay at Resurgence is all about experiencing the outdoors at its best.


SiloStay – Canterbury

Ever thought you could blend industrial-chic and eco-friendly accommodation? SiloStay proves this combination can exist, and pretty well in fact!  Situated in remote Little River, SiloStay is ideal for those seeking a holiday of inner-peace, distraction-free. If silence kills, fret not, as SiloStay is situated a quick 50-minute drive from Christchurch. It is also right on the doorstep of the Little River – Christchurch trail for all those bush walking junkies.

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Unlike the usual eco-friendly favourites, like hideaway cabins and tree houses, SiloStay quite literally offers accommodation in converted grain silos. The brainchild of local artists, Stuart and Angela Wright-Stow, the two-level silos come with free WiFi, mounted flat-screen TVs, and a kitchenette – perfect for some at home organic cooking!

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The gleeful recipient of several design awards and accolades, SiloStay ingeniously blends sustainability with practicality to create a fulfilling experience for any eco-loving traveller. LED lighting is used throughout, reducing its electricity consumption. Insulation comes in the form of locally sourced wool, and a pellet boiler system results in piping hot water in the bathrooms.

So if you’re ready to do things a little differently for your next eco-inspired trip, a stay at SiloStay is guaranteed to leave a green stamp of approval on your accommodation venture.


Peppers Awaroa Lodge – Abdel Tasman National Park

Ever pictured yourself spending a night in a hideaway eco cabin, surrounded by a lush rainforest? Peppers Awaroa Lodge turns this fantasy into a tangible reality, treating guests to an eco-experience alongside all the essential luxuries. Situated in the heart of the Abdel Tasman National Park with no road access – just air and boat – Peppers puts nature at the forefront of the guest experience.

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The eco lodge offers a rustic design, with natural exposed timbers and neutral tones featured throughout. Contemporary furnishings adorn the space, and the private decks ensure spectacular scenic views of the bush surrounds.

When it comes to eco accommodation, Peppera Awaroa Lodge is at the helm of the scene. As part of its yearly plan, it aims to reduce landfill, water usage, and overall fuel consumption. The glass conservatory also houses Harakeke restaurant, which provides a creative menu using herbs and vegetables sourced from the onsite organic garden.

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If you’re looking to venture out and explore some of the region’s natural beauty, various activities are also on offer including sea kayaking and penguin and fur seal viewings.


Lochmara Lodge, Wildlife Recovery and Arts Centre – Picton

When it comes to appreciating nature, do you love the water? Does your preferred pastime involve a stroll beside a bay, with water lapping against your feet? If yes, then Lochmara Lodge is unquestionably for you. Situated on the shores of scenic Lochmara Bay in Malborough Sounds, this place puts eco travel at the forefront of the guest experience.

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Whether you decide to make use of the free kayaks or whether you unexpectedly meet eyes with native Kakariki parakeets, you’re certain to come away from Lochmara Lodge feeling more at one with nature.

Unit and chalet accommodation is available, with all offering queen-sized beds, free WiFi, and views of Lochmara Bay. If relaxation is key, head to the neighbouring woods and recline in one of the 40 hammocks scattered throughout. Otherwise, book an indulgent spa treatment at the onsite Bathhouse to find your inner zen.

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The region also boasts a range of self-guided nature walks around Lochmara Bay, where you can appreciate local bird life, fur seals, and breathtaking panoramic views. To protect Lochmara’s beauty, The Wildlife Recovery Centre has also been running a predator control program for the last 12 years, preserving native bird life and creating nesting boxes for local blue penguins.  If you’re lucky you might even spot these little guys as they return each night after dusk.


Mount Tutu Eco-Sanctuary – Tauranga

As the name would suggest, Mount Tutu Eco-Sanctuary is an idyllic haven located in the Bay of Plenty between Tauranga and Rotorua. Situated within a bird sanctuary, amidst draping ferns and a lush rainforest, Mount Tutu is ideal for all those travellers craving an escape from the city.

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Considered one of the ten best eco lodges in New Zealand, and endorsed as Kiwi Green Certified, these four hideaway wood cabins offer both double and twin accommodation as well as sun terraces quite literally on nature’s doorstep.

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Hosts Tim, Debbie, and their family give guests a full accommodation experience from start to finish, providing breakfast provisions and a communal dining space with books and games. As night falls, venture into the woods and partake in a glow worms tour.


Hapuku Lodge & Tree Houses – Kaikoura

If eco travel is your number one priority when venturing to a new destination, a visit to Kaikoura should definitely be pencilled in your itinerary. Thanks to the area’s rich native flora and fauna, Kaikoura was the first community in New Zealand to meet the Green Globe benchmark status.

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Blessed with natural beauty and several scenic walking tracks, Kaikoura warrants so much more than a fleeting day trip. The solution? A night at Hapuku Lodge and Tree Houses of course! In keeping with the region’s eco focus, Hapuku treats guests to a range of environmentally-friendly accommodation options.

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For an up-close and personal experience with nature, you can’t go past Hapuku’s tree houses. The five luxurious cabins are set ten metres above ground in a lush canopy of native Manuka groves and come with all the indulgent essentials. Think a complimentary mini-bar, an iPod docking station, and an inviting spa overlooking the landscape.

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For some organic tucker, you’ll be pleased to know Hapuku’s restaurant in the lodge serves a mix of seasonal dishes using ingredients sourced from the hotel’s very own herb and vegetable garden. Chef Fiona and her team creatively work at the helm, producing everything themselves – jams, peanut butter, and even some super delicious organic plum ice cream!

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And the best bit about Hapuku? You can splurge on quality accommodation knowing you’re doing your bit for the environment – the team plants a tree for every guest!

Ready to get more of an eco fix? Check out the top eco retreats in Queensland or even the world