If you want to gain a new perspective on life, try going somewhere that makes you feel dwarfed by nature.

The teams at Sherwood Queenstown and The Great Glenorchy Alpine Base Camp understand this better than most – they’ve made it their mission to share their spectacular backyard with visitors in a way that’s as tailored, eco-conscious and genuine as possible.

No doubt you’re familiar with Queenstown as an alpine getaway – but a 45-minute drive north-west from the tourist mecca, along a lakeside road with world-renowned views, the town of Glenorchy is on the doorstep of one of the country’s most important natural taonga.

Never miss a moment. Make sure you're subscribed to our newsletter today.


Te Wāhipounamu, or the Unesco South West New Zealand World Heritage Area, covers 2.6 million hectares. This is 10 per cent of Aotearoa’s land mass, and over eight times the size of another of the world’s mountainous wonders, the US’s Yosemite National Park.

Doug and Liz Rikard-Bell founded The Base Camp, and they operate it with a small and knowledgeable team who will host you warmly at the actual “camp” in the Glenorchy township, as well as lead you on guided adventures in the wilderness.

Whether you’re a couple, a group of friends, or a family, they can tailor your outing to suit you. Thanks to the knowledge of general manager Jon Tyler, a guide who has worked in Antarctica at least four times, you could explore places you’d never have known were there, and likely couldn’t reach on your own.

The Rikard-Bells had been visiting Glenorchy since 2009, before settling there several years ago. Doug, an eco-minded property developer, says an appreciation for the World Heritage site’s importance “snuck up on him”, and he wondered why Mount Cook Village and Te Anau got more attention as step-off points to the area.

After researching tourism in the immediate vicinity, he decided to create a meaningful accommodation offering that would be both a comfortable and well-designed place to stay, as well as a gateway to the wilderness.

If you’ve got a Queenstown trip planned and want a seamless transfer out to Glenorchy for a couple of nights, you’re in luck: The Base Camp runs a friendly partnership with renowned boutique hotel Sherwood.

The two businesses align in more ways than one. Both have thoughtfully designed fit-outs with every small detail considered, aim to tread lightly on the earth, work with predominantly local suppliers, and foster a community of like-minded patrons.

The relationship grew organically, says Sherwood general manager Hayley Scott. The Rikard-Bells have been Sherwood regulars ever since she started at the hotel in 2016, and Hayley and her husband Chris Scott (Sherwood’s executive chef) went out with their family to experience The Base Camp. “These amazing experiences that they offer [are] something that Sherwood doesn’t do – but we also get asked a lot by guests to recommend experiences and things that they can do while they’re down here in Queenstown.”

The Sherwood team loves being able to tell guests about something with a bit more soul than the traditional Queenstown thrills.

The Base Camp team can create shorter explorations that work as daytrips or overnighters for Sherwood guests, and there are special offers if you book via Sherwood. If you don’t have your own transport, the team can collect you in one of their Land Rover Defenders (complete with heated seats and river-crossing capabilities) so you can focus on the view during the stunning drive to Glenorchy.

Other bookable adventures include mountain hikes of various levels that begin from your helicopter-accessed starting point – or maybe free diving and spearfishing is more your bag. Sleep on stretcher beds in a traditional canvas tent under breathtaking stars, warmed by a hot meal and a wood-burning heater that’s raised off the ground to leave no footprint.

You can also stay at The Base Camp before or after going out on your own missions, such as one of the area’s many famous hikes – the Routeburn, the Greenstone and Caples tracks, or the Rees-Dart track.

The Great Glenorchy Alpine Base Camp’s nearby accommodation peers are luxury lodge Blanket Bay, award-winning wellness retreat Aro Ha, and The Headwaters Eco Lodge. The Base Camp is different to all of these, combining touches of luxe with comforting nostalgia – like the best family holidays you went on as a kid.

It’s formed of 14 huts of various sizes – designed, as the project’s architects RTA Studio describe, in a village arrangement.

The main hall is fronted by a yellow door with poppy-red font and topped with a huge metal falcon sculpture made by local artist Dan Kelly. Inside, you’re greeted by a toasty fire and a large, shared table with the kitchen on one side and wooden booths on the other. It’s a licensed restaurant called Food Over Fire, where all the meals are served family-style and cooked over the flames, hosted by the team with beautiful linens and candles.

People that don’t know each other can sit around and meet over a meal cooked by Liz or host Maddie Schmidt. “Without fail, it erupts,” says Doug, “because everybody’s either just been on an adventure or is about to go on one and is excited.”

After a day’s intrepid adventures, return to base and gather around its huge outdoor metal barbeque and open fire, which is as good for gazing into with a glass of wine as it is for toasting marshmallows – or roasting a whole feast.

The huts are enchanting; made from pale, sustainably-sourced and thermally-treated timber, they’re filled with chic yet pared-back trimmings such as ultra-soft, striped cotton bedding and potbelly wood-burners with enough chopped wood to keep you cosy through the night. The family cabins have double or even triple bunks that would make any kid squeal.

Other nice touches are the super-fast wi-fi, a Scandinavian-style sauna, and Sans Ceuticals products in the bathrooms and showers.

With all that adventuring out of your system, you can be whisked back to Sherwood and continue your journey with chef Chris’s acclaimed woodfired dishes, a glass of natural wine, and warm reflections of an utterly unforgettable South Island experience.