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We can't wait to share paradise with you.
Mountains and Lake in Glenorchy

"Our goal is to connect our guests with the beauty of the land and the people of the area, all while renewing the body, mind and spirit."

aip founder debbi Brainerd

dventures in Paradise was born out of our passion for active travel, a love of the great outdoors, and the lifelong memories of the people we meet along the way. Glenorchy has been attracting visitors since the first European settlers arrived in 1861 and people continue to be drawn to this magical place today. Surrounded by towering mountains, braided rivers, deep-blue lakes and lush beech forests, we feel Glenorchy is a rare bit of paradise.

Run as a triple-bottom-line business, we make our choices based on what's best for people, planet and profits-- all of which flow back into the community through the Glenorchy Community Trust to benefit the vibrancy and resilience of this small village at the head of the lake. From providing for school children to restoring the environment to strengthening support for the needs of the community, you can feel good about choosing Adventures in Paradise as something that's good for you, as well as the greater good.

The Headwaters Eco Lodge

In 2018, Adventures in Paradise founders Debbi and Paul Brainerd created New Zealand’s only net positive energy accommodation, known today as The Headwaters Eco Lodge, at Camp Glenorchy. Adventures in Paradise is the next step in their journey towards inspiring, educating and delighting visitors with small, intimate travel journeys that invite you to fully discover this beautiful landscape.

Our Adventures in Paradise experiences will help you explore the best of a special place, connect you to the Glenorchy community and inspire you to make time to connect yourself to the breathtaking natural world around you. This is unlike group adventure travel as you know it!

Unique Experiences

Inspiring Evening Programs
Inspiring Evening Programs

Tailored to you and your interests, these programs are hosted by local legends keen to share their experiences with you. Topics include Glenorchy cultural history, art by NZ artists, the wonders of nature nearby, photography, sustainability, food, wine - you name it!

A Chance to Give Back
A Chance to Give Back

The grounds at The Headwaters Eco Lodge have been extensively landscaped with native plants to invite the return of native birds to the township. You too will have the option to leave a bit of yourself behind while giving back to the Glenorchy community by planting your very own native tree or shrub at a landscape restoration project nearby.

Treats for the Body & Soul
Treats for the Body & Soul

While you're with us, you can opt to participate in gentle morning yoga classes before you start your day, or choose an optional soothing afternoon massage after your day's adventures. Your heart will thank you for making the time to decompress a bit and breathe a little deeper in Glenorchy's fresh mountain air.

Meet your Team

The talented individuals dedicated to making your Adventure in Paradise an experience you'll cherish forever.

"Our location opens your eyes to the beauty of our natural world and provides space for more of those internal ‘aha’ moments."

Debbi Brainerd
Founder of Adventures in Paradise & The Headwaters

Debbi is a creative thinker, project manager and community volunteer from Seattle, who fell in love with the beauty of the land and the people of New Zealand over 20 years ago.

Debbi’s background includes degrees in both Clothing Textile Design and Molecular Biology, as well as a dozen years working in events and wardrobe consulting at Nordstrom’s Seattle flagship store.

Prior to co-founding The Headwaters, Debbi founded IslandWood, a 255-acre overnight environmental education centre set deep in the woods that provides hands-on outdoor learning for children and their teachers from primary school classrooms. Built to LEED Gold sustainability standards, it now serves over 10,000 students each year. When she’s not working, she loves hiking, experimenting in the kitchen, creating mixed media art, and mustering sheep (whenever local farmers let her come along).

“I've seen first-hand how healthy eating, a commitment to self-care, and time in nature can feed both the soul and the physical body.”

Shaun Shallish
Head Guide

Born in Oamaru, Shaun has always had a passion for the outdoors. After studying Physical Education Sport and Exercise Sciences at university, he then went on to spend six seasons guiding on the Milford and Routeburn Tracks. Shaun has experienced the tracks in sunshine, rain, snow, thunder, lightning, earthquakes, flooding, pandemic, state of emergency evacuations… he’s seen it all! So there’s no better person to be looking after you on your Adventure in Paradise.

Shaun loves getting to meet all kinds of people from many different backgrounds while guiding.

“My must-visit spots in Glenorchy are Mt. Alfred summit to enjoy the view of Lake Wakatipu, Earnslaw Glacier and the Dart River.”

Simon Judt
Camp Glenorchy Senior Host

Simon has been with The Headwaters Lodge since it first opened in 2018. Originally from Germany, he has a Master’s Degree in Sports Tourism and Recreation Management making him the ideal person to coordinate all the activities, programs and events at Camp Glenorchy. With a love of crafting an outstanding guest experience, Simon will be one of the smiling faces to welcome you upon arrival.

A fan of the great outdoors and an avid hiker and surfer, since living in Glenorchy, he has also developed a skill for darts and cricket.

“Creativity is a fundamental part of who we are and why we are here. Tapping into it is great fun!”

Carolyn Dakin
Resident Artist

Carolyn has a lifelong love of photography and the visual arts and is an accomplished digital artist. Her artwork integrates themes of joy, beauty, and delight, often with humorous or transformational aspects of playful painterly wit. She is a member of the internationally acclaimed group of digital artists, the Awake group, based in North America. 

She has been published in international magazines, won prizes in internationally juried competitions, and been exhibited and sold in New Zealand and Australia. Carolyn is also trained in Mindfulness Meditation and Creativity Coaching. 

Before becoming a full-time artist, Carolyn spent several decades working as a highly trained, specialised medical professional, running workshops, teaching, lecturing, counselling, and mentoring others within the healthcare system.

"We have lived here together longer than anywhere else, season to season, embedded in the mountains. This is our home"

Christine Kelly
MountainHut Host

On skis from a young age at Coronet Peak, Christine competed on the International Ski Racing circuit in the 80's. Never far from a mountain and the backcountry she has also worked in the snow industry, tourism, film and conservation and gained qualifications in avalanche safety, administration and safety management. She is the co-founder of The Invincibles and  and over the last 30 years has raised a family in Glenorchy and made sure that they can all ski and enjoy the backcountry safely.

"We have lived here together longer than anywhere else, season to season, embedded in the mountains. This is our home"

Dan Kelly
MountainHut Host

Dan has over 30 years experience in ski touring in the NZ backcountry initially qualifying and operating as a snow safety officer in the Canterbury Club fields throughout the 80's. A Glenorchy resident since the 90's he first foundered and operated the Invincible Snow fields before discovering that the snow slopes of Mt Larkins and Mt Alaska were ideal for ski touring. Dan is now the owner operator of offering adventure activities of heli hiking and biking and snow activities all year around in Whakaari Conservation area Glenorchy. When not hosting guests in the mountains you will find Dan in his sculpture workshop creating works of art:

"For me, the power of nature in this place -the majesty of the mountains and lakes, and the magic of the beech forest - never tires in helping me connect with myself."

Dr Tonya Cruikshank
Time Out Curator and Mindfulness Instructor

Tonya is a highly experienced  and approachable specialist General Practitioner (doctor), Educator, Leader, Speaker and Health Coach whose approach focuses on mind-body whole-person healthcare. Her practice bridges traditional western medicine with a more holistic approach via functional medicine, gut health and nutrition, mindfulness and emotional awareness.

She joins our carefully curated team to bring her much sought-after style and knowledge on nutrition and holistic health, sharing techniques for soothing and resetting the nervous system using mindfulness, breathing and body awareness. She brings her love of nature, desire for exploration, movement, creativity and her passion for connecting to others.

“I feel so lucky to share Glenorchy with guests from NZ, Australia and around the world. I love being part of this amazing community.”

Gabriela Diaz
Getaway Specialist

Originally from Argentina, Gabby has travelled around the world but always dreamt of living surrounded by the mountains and lakes of the beautiful South Island of New Zealand. Upon arriving in the country four years ago, she was lucky enough to almost immediately find her dream job at The Headwaters Lodge.
With an extensive career in customer service and reservations, Gabby loves to see the smiles of delighted guests staying with us and really enjoys finding opportunities to go the extra mile and providing personalised, first-class hospitality experiences.

In her free time Gabby thrives on hiking and mountain biking on the gorgeous trails around Glenorchy. On cold and rainy days that keep her indoors, she loves discovering exciting and nourishing recipes to cook, playing music instruments, and singing.

"The mountains and scenery will make you breathless. You will squeal with delight and skip down the trail. It's a little like being in love!"

Ingrid Temple
Customer Experience Planner

Ingrid has over 30 years’ experience managing events and working inside the tourism industry in NZ and Australia. She has overseen corporate and private conferences, trade shows and her skills have helped businesses increase performance by assessing roles and responsibilities and processes and procedures.

Her enjoyment of wine and delivering great customer experiences has seen her as judge for the Central Otago Wine Tourism Awards. Until recently she was the Managing Director of her own business, operating a transport and tour company.

Ingrid loves getting out in the mountains and is passionate about walking in the local environment and about the communities in which we work, play and do business.

“My hot tips are - the must-see view from the top of Mt Alfred and a jet boat trip up the Dart River into Mt Aspiring National Park & Te Waipounamu World Heritage area”.

Katherine Cahill
Sales & Events Manager

Katherine’s love of the mountains stems from growing up in Mackenzie country in the shadow of Aoraki/ Mt Cook, skiing at Ohau, Roundhill, & Mt Dobson. She chose to study at Canterbury University rather than Otago due to the proximity of the mountains & ski fields.

After 5 years living in London, the mountains lured her back to Queenstown where she worked for Ngai Tahu Tourism for 14 years as Conference Sales Manager showcasing the Shotover & Dart River & Hollyford Track to conference delegates.

Katherine is a self-confessed book nerd & dog lover. She enjoys skiing, tramping, mountain biking. Her “life sentence” block with 2 chickens, pigs & sheep and her husband’s craft brewery keeps her busy.

“My home at the head of Lake Wakatipu truly is paradise and my vision is to introduce fellow photographers to the many breath-taking locations we have on offer.”

Laurence Belcher
Photography Coach

Retired television director Laurence lives in “paradise” and wants to share it with others.

Laurence is passionate about photography. His professional training in hospitality enabled him to channel his interests into food photography and television, whilst with Television New Zealand he contributed to several high profile books and directed many lifestyle and food programmes’.

His aim is to share his knowledge with other photographers who are keen to learn. No matter your level of experience, Laurence is able to guide people through the various elements of photography.  Not only will you walk away feeling that you have gained from his guidance, but that you have genuinely 'experienced paradise.'

“I drive from Queenstown to Glenorchy often, and I never fail to be deeply inspired by the majesty of the landscape of Glenorchy and the deep beauty that surrounds us here.”

Michelle Trapski
Founding Director, The Headwaters

Michelle has an extensive track record in fulfilling vision through a commercial, strategic, and creative ethos that has at its heart: what if every act of design and construction made the world a better place.

A previous Chief Executive of AJ Hackett Bungy and Managing Director of Active Adventures, Michelle has also held board roles on Ruapehu Alpine Lifts and Snow Sports NZ. She is currently an executive director for MtCardrona Station and is a director/board member of Start Up Queenstown Lakes, the Active Hearts Foundation and Impact 100.

With an intuitive connection to nature, Michelle skis, hikes and swims, loves a great Pinot Noir, and all the great dining and food experiences the region has to offer.

“Growing herbs, fruits and vegetables to prepare them in your own kitchen is every chef’s dream! This is an incredibly exciting project, a total delight to be involved with the team here.”

Pete Gawron
Executive Chef

Pete Gawron oversees the Adventures in Paradise food experience with our fabulous kitchen team. As the former founder, owner, and head chef at Saffron Restaurant in Arrowtown for 17 years, he earned recognition as one of Condé Nast Traveler’s “Top 100 Tables” of the world’s most exciting restaurants. Pete has staged at world-renowned and Michelin-star restaurants throughout Europe and Asia. His beautiful cookbook, “The Taste of Central Otago” offer hints of the inventive seasonal deliciousness that awaits you as part of your Adventures in Paradise dining experience.

Pete is inspired by the new organic garden and sustainable glass house taking shape onsite behind Mrs Woolly’s General Store, and loves the idea of freshly prepared garden-to-table meals that feature just-picked organic veggies and fruit from our own gardens.

When he’s not working, Pete enjoys the people and lively culture of this region, and continually learning alongside the best growers, vintners and producers of Central Otago.

“I've seen first-hand how healthy eating, a commitment to self-care, and time in nature can feed both the soul and the physical body.”

Sian Leigh
Holistic Health Coach

Sian has been living and breathing holistic medicine since her children were born with colic and allergies 15 years ago. After finding a holistic health coach, she was able to heal both her children and herself from continual sinus infections, migraines, eczema and insomnia. As a result, she decided to study holistic health, nutrition and yoga, which complemented to her previous work in abnormal psychology and neuroscience.  

As a holistic health practitioner, Sian also teaches yoga and leads retreats around the world that are focused on educating others about healing foods and improving health by building stronger more resilient immune systems.

Her online healthy eating program encapsulates all aspects of her healing protocols, and she believes her personal journey has given her a passion for helping others live a more optimal life.

People gathering at Camp Glenorchy for an Adventure in Paradise

From the creators of The Headwaters Eco Lodge at Camp Glenorchy comes Adventures in Paradise. Join us on an all-inclusive, handcrafted getaway showcasing the best of the most beautiful place in the country.