Designed to stand the test of time, Te Waonui’s durable, New Zealand building design blends in with its stunning natural setting. Management and staff at Te Waonui actively support community-based projects to preserve our outstanding natural heritage in Franz Josef Glacier Town.

Site Ecology:

Design decisions made have preserved specimen trees and maximised the amount of existing native bush retained on Hotel property. The Rain Forest Courtyard is a specially designed feature allowing all guest bedrooms an aspect into preserved native bush. Hard asphalt areas have been minimised with permeable gravel and swales allowing for rainwater collection and dispersal. Our soft timbered feel and colour scheme sits comfortably with tones of native bush on site.

Passive Design:

Overhanging roofs, slatted screens and sun shading elements filter the impact of sun, wind and rain on the building, just as the tree canopy does to the forest floor. Guest room insulation is substantially better than any relevant building codes. Windows are double-glazed. Our foyer, bar and restaurant are naturally ventilated eliminating air-conditions and ensuring significant energy-savings. Sophisticated automatically controlled windows and fans provide a natural air environment at Te Waonui.


New Zealand products and materials are used wherever possible reducing Te Waonui’s Carbon Footprint. During construction, high-energy content materials such as steel were minimised with real emphasis on fully renewable materials such as timber. Timbers are specified from an appropriate environmental certified source ensuring that responsible, renewable and non-rainforest sources are used. Concrete was manufactured just a few hundred metres down the road and hard fill aggregates locally sourced from Waiho River. Te Waonui bedrooms boast natural wool fabrics and carpets. Local industry is supported by the use of possum skins for cushioning throughout. The possum is a pest in New Zealand and extremely destructive of our native bush.

Energy Efficiency:

Natural lighting is used extensively throughout the property reducing artificial lighting energy loads. Artificial light is deployed in an energy efficient manner through halogen lamps and through a lighting control system in Bar, Lobby and Restaurant. An electrical load shedder limits maximum electrical demand on site. Localised electric water heating per block reduces pipe runs and resultant energy losses, unfortunately owing to the wet and sometimes cloudy climate solar hot-water systems were discounted as an option. A building management system allows for refined control of mechanical systems throughout the building.

Water Efficiency:

Despite water being an abundant resource we still aim to reduce water use through certified tap ware, showerheads and certified low water use guest room toilets.

Waste Minimisation:

Recycled hardwood telegraph poles support the main entry and loading dock canopies. Recycled railway sleepers form lighting bollards throughout site. Carpet under-lays manufactured from recycled content. Each guest room has a custom-recycling centre enabling separation of waste at source.

Rowi Kiwi:

Rowi are New Zealand’s rarest kiwi, with only 400 remaining. They are managed intensively by the Department of Conservation at the rowi kiwi sanctuary on the West Coast at Okarito, only 10km from Franz Josef. BNZ Operation Nest Egg is used to ensure that as many chicks as possible survive – and it’s working! The population is growing from its record low of about 150-200 birds in the 90’s, but with so few birds, they remain very vulnerable.

Te Waonui Forest Retreat actively supports the Rowi project by donating funds to Kiwis for Kiwi, a national charity that raises funds for Kiwi conservation projects across New Zealand. Thanks to the hard work of thousands of caring New Zealanders, the Kiwi’s future looks bright. We are slowing the decline, and where we are actively managing Kiwi (like the Rowi), their numbers are increasing.
For more information about Rowi, the work to protect Kiwi, and other ways you can support, please visit

Punga Relocation:

We hold an Punga Tree Planting Day every year which is has been extremely successful over the last two years. The service staff at Te Waonui now own the legacy of having planted around 40 trees on our property over the past 2 seasons.