Wānaka Businesses Making Waves in a Sustainable Way

Two people in a hot tub at Cross Hill in Lake Hawea.

Wānaka is the home base for a bunch of game-changing businesses, with offerings as diverse as the terrain that surrounds them. Beneath the surface, however, there are commonalities that go beyond their root environment. They are committed to sustainability, prioritising the land, locals and longevity of the planet.

Words by: Izzie Thompson

By acting as extensions of the communities that they inhabit and making deliberate choices to work with, not against, the environment, these businesses are doing what they can to ensure that the future is a healthy and thriving place to be in. From everyday objects and groceries, slow fashion, energy-efficient structures and beers for good, we’ve rounded up some of our favourite Wānaka businesses consciously and sustainably making waves.

Revology - Retail

Fashion key icon.

28 Helwick Street, Wānaka

Circular design and mindful living are at the heart of Revology Concept Store & Tea House. With a curated selection of quality, lifetime objects, it’s a space dedicated to education in what and how we buy. Everything on Revology’s shelves is made to last, evolve and be repaired, and there’s a strong focus on ethical production and sourcing. Each item has been thoughtfully designed from sustainable materials by a maker who shares this ethos, and the result is a studio where everything has a purpose and a story to tell. Revology also creates tea blends on-site from organic ingredients, consciously sold in refillable jars.

Wastebusters - Community

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Ballantyne Road, Wānaka

Making communities resourceful, affordable and fun places to live in is one of the main goals of Wastebusters, a stalwart Wānaka local. Wastebusters stays true to its name by working for zero waste through reduction, reuse and recycling, but is so much more than a giant opshop. It’s a community enterprise with not-for-profit charitable status. It’s a hub that gives the community a place to connect, learn and take action for the environment. It supports sustainability in the district's schools with its Enviroschools programme, reclaims resources and minimises waste with its recycling services and consultancy for businesses and events around Central Otago, and is an advocate for waste minimisation throughout the country. The alternative to a disposable society, Wastebusters is on a repair revolution.

Freshlink Grocer - Kai / Food

Goods key icon.

82 Anderson Road, Wānaka

Pull the pin on the one-way dialogue of single-use plastic-wrapped supermarket products and head to Freshlink Grocer to fill your basket with essential goods, minus the packaging. A local grocer on paper, the space offers more than just fresh produce and bulk household items. Freshlink puts its community and the environment first by carefully considering any product before stocking it, with an emphasis on local and whole goods. Facilitators of whole-food conversations, Freshlink is a hub of knowledge and strives to bring consumers and makers closer. You’ll find minimally packaged items on the shelves; glass bottles are returned to suppliers for refilling, glass jars are reused and recycled, and you can bring in your own containers to refill. You might walk away with more weight by the scales but you’ll feel far lighter, knowing that you’re supporting local farmers and producers, nourishing your body with whole foods and doing good for the environment by minimising waste.

Muttonbird - Seasonal Restaurant

Bars key icon. Restaurants key icon.

33 Ardmore Street, Wānaka

With a menu that changes daily, few things at Muttonbird are constant. By opting to use only local and seasonal fresh goods (and thus regularly designing new dishes to showcase the latest harvest), Muttonbird is entirely dependent on local producers’ inventories and market availability. This approach is rooted in sustainability and supports and champions local farmers and producers. The eatery itself is relaxed, casual and funky, and no perturbed thoughts of the freshness or carbon travel footprint of ingredients on your plate need to take place under its roof. Consistency is found in the delicious, innovative and fresh creations Muttonbird presents. No two dining experiences will be the same, but they’ll always carry a taste of Otago.

Two bikes standing next to an outdoor hot tub set against a hilly backdrop at sunset.

LandEscape - Tourism

Local family business LandEscape has a bold goal to become a template for renewable energy usage and local-for-local food production. Set on 300 acres of secluded rural heaven, LandEscape is the place to experience gentle adventure and serene relaxation centred around renewable energy systems and technologies. Cruise around their vast network of trails on an e-bike, admiring the spectacular scenery, then watch the sunset paint the sky, followed by the stars' gradual appearance, from a spring-fed wood-fired hot tub.

The (owner-operator) Deaton family has an arsenal of knowledge on renewable energy systems and is committed to providing an enjoyable and informative experience; LandEscape is a vehicle to incorporate, demonstrate and, ultimately, educate visitors on the fundamentals and potential of renewable energy and energy efficiency in the built environment.

Photo supplied by LandEscape. 

Bike Glendhu - Biking

Stay and explore key icon.

42 Motatapu Road, Glendhu Bay

Years of research, concepts and environmental impact analyses were the earliest chapters in Bike Glendhu’s story. A purpose-built mountain bike park, the trails are pedal-only and designed to complement the natural topography of the environment - the rolling hills of Glendhu Bay - utilising the land in a way that respects and preserves it and its character. Central to the business ethos and day-to-day operations is regenerative tourism. Bike Glendhu is continually working to build systems and processes that realise its vision of a healthy, self-sustaining cycle, giving back more than it takes through sustainability initiatives like the off-grid solar approach (of the central base building and café) and a promise to plant 30,000 natives at the park by 2030. This story is continued by the visitors: making the conscious choice to support the cause betters both their well-being and the environment.

A beautifully decorated table with food and drinks.

Cross Hill Lodge and Domes - Accommodation

Nestled in the foothills of a high-country station, on the shore of Lake Hāwea, Cross Hill Lodge and Domes is a boutique accommodation destination with sustainability at its core. Owner-operator Sarah Burdon has a degree in eco-tourism and worked closely with the architects and landscapers throughout Cross Hill’s establishment to ensure that they were creating a sustainable business, both economically and environmentally. The signature domes were chosen for their aesthetics and efficiency - Buckminster Fuller's invention of geodesic domes is one of the lightest, strongest and most cost-effective structures out there, from the ease of construction to the inherent energy efficiency of the geometry. To do more with less is to be kind to our fragile planet.

Photo supplied by Cross Hill. 

A woman sitting at the beach on a sunny day with her back to the camera.

Monday Journal - Fashion

Dearly encouraging mindful shopping and lounging in comfort, Monday Journal is the creator of a very small collection of clothing, knitwear and knitting patterns. All of their pieces are lovingly made by hand from natural fibres, like 100% NZ wool, merino and mohair, at their Wānaka studio. Tying in with their ethos that “it’s cool to care” when it comes to slow fashion and consumption, everything is made to order and thus the fit of many of their garments can be customised. A contributing factor to the longevity of a garment, along with careful crafting and quality natural materials, is the comfort that comes from (both materiality and) fit. Monday Journal celebrates doing things slowly, in a considered fashion.

Photo supplied by Monday Journal. 

b.effect - Beer

Bars key icon. Cafes key icon. Restaurants key icon.

60 Anderson Road, Wānaka

It doesn’t take too many eating-out experiences in Wānaka before you start to notice a swirly pastel design on bar taps and wrapped around cans in hands everywhere, denoting beverages made by local Wānaka brewery b.effect. Edward Lorenz’s Butterfly Effect, the idea that small changes can cause great effects, is the inspiration behind not only b.effect’s name but also its mission to brew better beverages for the greater good. Otago isn’t a region known for its hop-growing, but that’s no deterrence to b.effect who is actively working to create a local, sustainable source of hops—for the brewing industry, of course, but also to help local farmers by adding another high-value use for their farmland. A locally grown product creates resilience in the supply chain, which in turn benefits the industry and the local community.

A bearded man presenting to a group of people outside in front of a lake.

Wao - Community / Education

The Māori kupu for forest, Wao is a for-purpose, not-for-profit organisation run by a group of passionate volunteers. Much as a forest is made up of many different ecosystems, interlinked and reliant on remarkable coexistence, Wao’s focus is on educating and enabling the health and connections of the different systems in our communities; from building, youth, and tourism, to food and fibre, and everything in between. Unprecedented sustainability transitions in work, governance and behaviour are taking place and Wao is here to help. They’re dedicated to inspiring, educating and enabling communities to move towards a thriving, low-emissions future, finding opportunities in the most unlikely of places. Wao is helping to shape a future where we give back more than we take. 

Photo supplied by Wao. 

Neat Wānaka Places

Bike Glendhu

Cycling over grass at sunset.
Place Wānaka
Stay and explore key icon.

Biking in a naturally beautiful setting.

Muttonbird

Enclosed balcony dining area at Muttonbird, Wānaka.
Place Wānaka
Bars key icon. Restaurants key icon.

It’s a seabird you can eat that smells like fish and tastes like mutton.

The Green Room

The interior of The Green Room flower and plant store with light pink counters.
Place Wānaka
Goods key icon.

A smart, fresh and colourful botanical store, The Green Room is the place to come for beautiful plants or a big bouquet for someone special.

hello RANGER

A plate of lamb koftas, flatbreads and tzatziki on a table at hello RANGER with a pint of beer and other plates in the background.
Place Wānaka
Restaurants key icon.

Just like any good park ranger, hello RANGER is the heart of its community, there to take care of adventurous people before and after their journeys.