Over the last two decades Toni-Anne Glover and her husband John have transformed historic Kinloch Lodge into a slice of paradise far away from the hustle and bustle and closer to nature.
How would you describe the place? Tell us a bit about Kinloch Wilderness Retreat and what makes it special.
Kinloch is ‘just beautiful’, set beside the lake and the river Dart surrounded by bush and mountains' it is truly a magical place. Just one hour from Queenstown yet a wonderful nurturing Wilderness experience where the place and nature help cure the ails of modern life. Kinloch has a long history as a meeting place for Maori who used the rivers as a way of getting to and meeting other tribes to the early European settlers who came to the area for forestry, farming and gold. Kinloch was an early tourism spot where people used to arrive by horse and cart to climb, botanise and paint.
How does the surrounding landscape, the people, and the culture of Glenorchy inform the way you run your business? Does it make you more conscious or concerned about your environmental impact?
Back in 2000 when we arrived we were thrilled to be part of the Glenorchy vision plan final stages. Glenorchy was one of the first towns in New Zealand to have a vision plan encompassing the values of the people and the long term development of the area.
Glenorchy has grown into its identity as an environmentally and wellness focused community. It's rich in forward-thinking initiatives like dark sky sanctuaries, native nursery, community facilities such as a swimming pool and early childhood centre as well as creating new cycle trails connecting the Glenorchy area.
Our own values sit well alongside those of Glenorchy and link to the International SDG goals. We have always been very environmentally focused. Our survival as a business in the area depends on it, as climate change and that horrid word 'resilience' become a necessity and not just a nice to have.
What have you been doing to reduce your environmental impact? Tell us about the challenges you’ve taken on to make Kinloch Wilderness Retreat sustainable.
The main challenge in reducing our carbon impact has been convincing the beancounters. Our accountant was concerned when we purchased a Tesla and sceptical of the value of PV and batteries. At the time Tesla offered free lifelong supercharging so we haven’t had to pay to top-up at Tesla superchargers for tens of thousands of kilometres.
Kinloch Wilderness Retreat is located 74 km from Queenstown, and the carbon saved from guest transfers was the first area we could make a difference. Using the Tesla for these trips showed our customers the value of electric transport and saved us money.
We took this commitment further in an application for a government backed loan to convert our Glenorchy Lake House to more environmentally-friendly accommodation saving $150,000 over five years through energy efficiency, but had difficulties getting this approved during COVID. Since then we’ve been able to access Business Green Loans to finance sustainability projects.
We’ve installed heat pumps, heat pump hot water, changed to LEDs from halogen, and added more insulation, PV solar panels and batteries to continually reduce our reliance on energy from the grid.
Our first experience applying for Business Green Loans relied on outdated criteria to assess client eligibility. We reckon there should be more pragmatic and strategic measures for these assessments.
What are your top tips for others to help save on energy costs and reduce your carbon footprint?
It helps to take a long term view when assessing the benefits of environmental upgrades. As an individual it may not stack up to install solar panels and batteries in the same way as a business until you start looking at the opportunity costs of disasters and not having electricity if the grid goes out due to a climate disaster. This is something we’re becoming increasingly aware of.
The current residential environmental loans of up to $80,000 at just 1% interest, are a great way to kickstart a sustainability journey.
A good solar provider can estimate your power savings and grid exports.
With a Tesla power wall, and the Octopus Energy plan the system does everything to charge the power wall batteries at low rates when needed e.g. when there’s a storm warning we can top up with cheap electricity overnight so there’s power available for first thing in the morning if the weather is bad.
Whether you are looking for business or personal, extrapolate the costs over at least a five year period to gain a true cost/benefit analysis.
What do you hope for the future of the region and for Kinloch Wilderness Retreat?
The Glenorchy and Kinloch region face unique climate mitigation challenges. I would hope that resource consents are made available for environmental initiatives to adapt to sustainable energy generation like wind and hydro alongside solar.
The consenting process is currently very expensive, making it difficult to develop alternatives to solar for when the sun isn’t shining.
There are even more futuristic technologies that could make a difference in a remote region like ours. Electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (EVTOL)¹ drones and electric ferries could transport goods and people with zero carbon impact.
We're excited about the Candela electric foiling ferry proposed for long distance travel on Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown. We are also eager to see future infrastructure developments e.g. landing pads for helicopters now can become EVTOL facilities in the future, a jetty for barges with vehicles and an electric ferry.
The way transportation develops in remote locations could look similar to the regional network of hubs that worked so well in our pioneering past.
We look forward to benefiting from Virtual Power Plants (VPPs) linking multiple batteries like Telsa PowerWalls using Octopus Energy’s innovative tariffs and software.
Embracing the future and not being scared of it is the way forward for all of us.
Be in to win a trip for two, staying in a passive 'low energy' EcoScape at Kinloch Wilderness Retreat. To enter, simply like our Facebook page and tell us your best hack to beat your power bill and stay cosy over winter. Enter here.
Entries close 11:59 pm Thursday 1 June. One lucky customer will be drawn from the comments on Tuesday 6 June. Ts & Cs apply.
Published on 24th May 2023