Sustainability and environmental care
Owen River Lodge is absolutely committed to looking after our environment, our people and our community … and not just because our livelihood depends on it.
Caring about things—other people’s happiness, getting all the details right, helping to make anglers’ dreams come true—is at the heart of everything we do. We don’t believe it’s possible for anyone to talk about caring for guests if at the same time they’re trashing the environment, ill-treating their staff and ignoring their neighbours.
The international tourism industry is rife with “greenwashing” when it comes to sustainability. Owen River Lodge doesn’t do that. We’ve been quietly implementing strategies to reduce the lodge’s environmental footprint for well over a decade and we wholeheartedly support the New Zealand Tourism Sustainability Commitment.
We work hard to maintain our eco-credentials without compromising our luxury offering. That’s why we hold a Gold Sustainable Tourism Business award from New Zealand accreditation agency, Qualmark—its highest recognition. This award is based on a stringent assessment of economic performance, social responsibility, community engagement, environmental care, and the health, safety and wellbeing of staff.
Here’s how we walk the talk of sustainability:
1. Reducing our environmental impact
As an organisation and a member of the community, we encourage team members at Owen River Lodge to play an active part in our commitment to environmental and social sustainability.
This ranges from turning off lights and electrical equipment when they’re not needed or when we leave a room, to monitoring and tracking our energy usage so we can identify ways to reduce our consumption.
- Water supply: The lodge is not connected to a mains supply. We harvest rainwater from the main building roof and supplement this with water from a spring on the property. All water is filtered and treated through a series of non-chemical processes, including a UV system.
- Furthermore, in an effort to cut down on carbon miles and reduce reliance on single-use glass, we’ve elected to produce our own sparkling mineral water. We pump it out of the ground, filter it through the systems mentioned above, carbonate and refrigerate it, and serve it in reusable glass bottles.
- Fresh produce: Garden-to-plate might be all the rage now but it’s been a fundamental element of our service to guests since 2003. The lodge’s large gardens provide a seasonal bounty of fresh vegetables, herbs, berries and other fruit, all grown on organic principles. We use any surplus to make our own jams and preserves. In 2019 we’ve also broken ground on an enormous new picking garden to supply the lodge with fresh flowers and foliage.
- Other produce and products: We try to source these as locally as possible. By doing so, we support the local community and small businesses, increasing employment and reducing food miles. Premium staples including olive oil and honey are produced locally. Our coffee is roasted in Nelson and is certified organic and Fairtrade. We grind and package the beans ourselves. Whenever possible and appropriate, we buy in bulk.
- Minimising plastic: In 2016 we took a huge step in walking the talk of sustainability, and eliminated the use of plastic water bottles, choosing instead to supply guests with stainless steel water bottles which they can take home as a memento of their stay. We also supply goodie bags so guests can take home the bathroom amenities they use, rather than throwing them out. Partially-used soaps are collected and then, at the end of each season, passed on to a charity that re-manufactures them and distributes the soap to New Zealand & overseas based charities.
- Recycling: All glass bottles and jars, metal cans, plastic bottles and cardboard are collected, sorted and recycled. Every guest cottage suite contains labeled recycling facilities. We have an agreement with one of our biggest suppliers to take back their cardboard packaging for re-use.
- Waste water management: Waste water is treated through a three-stage process in an environmentally-friendly, non-chemical septic system. The water is then treated through a UV filter before being fed through an irrigation line to water some of our trees.
- Food waste: We compost all organic food waste or give it to staff for their chickens.
In the lodge building and cottages
- Design: Our guest cottages are constructed from New Zealand plantation-grown timber and recycled Oregon. Some of the windows in the lodge building and cottages are recycled; others are double-glazed to help with temperature control. All carpets are woven from 100% New Zealand-grown wool. We protect our wooden floors with natural wax coatings and use low-emission paints.
- Heating and cooling: The lodge and cottages are heated/cooled using the very latest in split system air conditioning units. These lessen the use of electricity and are the most efficient method available for heating and cooling.
- Hot water: We use instantaneous Natural Gas hot water systems. These consume far less energy than electric or gas storage systems.
- Lighting: We have installed motion sensors, light dimmers and LED lighting where possible.
- Cleaning products: All cleaning products used at the lodge are chosen for their limited use of chemicals and low environmental impact. Most are organic-based and manufactured in New Zealand.
- Laundry: Some of our guests choose to reuse towels and have bed linen changed less often. This helps to conserve water, and uses less detergents and energy.
In the lodge grounds
- Jacuzzi/spa: We keep the water sparkling clean and clear with an ozone generator and UV sterilization, vastly reducing the need for chemicals.
- Revegetation projects: Since establishing the lodge in 2003, we have planted thousands of native trees, shrubs, flaxes and grasses, and we continue to expand these gardens. As a result, you will see a variety of native birds around the lodge buildings. We have also fenced off waterways and wetland areas to keep livestock out.
- Garden waste: We compost leaves and shred tree prunings to be used as mulch onour gardens, reducing the need to water them and suppressing weeds.
In the community
- Employing locals: All our staff live locally and we pay them above the living wage, rather than the minimum wage.
- Supporting local groups: We have supported various local non-profit organisations and events, including the Nelson / Marlborough rescue helicopter service, the Murchison rugby club, the Murchison A&P Show and the school. We donate unwanted goods to local charities and the Salvation Army.
- Casting for Recovery: In 2011, the lodge first opened its doors to Casting for Recovery, a charity offering fly fishing retreats to breast cancer survivors. We have continued to host this event as a major sponsor every year since, providing attendees with a very special luxury experience that includes accommodation and cuisine, access to all lodge amenities, and guided fishing.
2. Managing our impact on the fishery
Our waterways and trout fishery are a national treasure and resource, owned by the New Zealand public. We are very conscious of this and do everything we can to minimise and manage our impact on it. Although there are aspects over which we have no control, we are dedicated to ensuring the fishery remains healthy and sustainable for future generations.
- Catch and release: By adhering to a responsible catch and release protocol, we ensure that the local fishery isn’t depleted—and that those wild browns keep getting bigger and wilier!
- Resting key fishing spots: We don’t guide on the same stretch of water for at least five days.
- Loan gear: Owen River Lodge stocks the largest selection of loan fishing gear in the world, offering premium brands including Simms and Sage. We take responsibility for ensuring everything is properly cleaned after use in order to prevent any contamination, and renew the gear regularly.
- Choice of fisheries: With access to five distinct geographical regions / fisheries ( 29 rivers) within a 90-minute drive, there is no over-reliance on a single river. If adverse weather events affects the fishing in one place, we’ll use one or more of the others while the river clears.
If you’d like more information about our sustainability policies or want to book your next luxury fly fishing experience at our accredited gold-standard, environmentally-responsible lodge, please get in touch!