Tyrrell couple promotes ecotourism with Valley Views Glamping

Since Valley Views Glamping opened on a North Otago farm in 2017, it’s gone from strength to strength with the six accommodation geodesic domes experiencing around 80% occupancy year-round. Now owners Amber and Patrick Tyrrell are eyeing up expansion, with plans to add a larger dome to host bigger retreats and weddings.

The pair both hail from rural backgrounds. Amber grew up on a farm nearby, while Patrick, a trained civil engineer, came from a farm on South Africa’s Eastern Cape, which grew citrus, tobacco and vegetables. The pair met in a co-operative agricultural community in the Israeli desert in 1992.

The couple purchased their 40-hectare farm in the Waitaki Valley in 2007 and were farming beef cattle in conjunction with Amber’s mother who lives next door on a 226-hectare farm. But the Tyrrells’ small farm wasn’t big enough to earn an income from so it was just supplementing their day jobs off the farm.

They had experienced glamping in a safari tent on a game farm in South Africa. With a vision to utilise their land to start their own business and create something they could live off, they took a leap of faith and haven’t looked back. Attending an agritourism course with Marijke Dunselman from Agritourism NZ further helped them streamline and improve their business.

Located in the foothills below Mount Domett, the glamping domes offer spectacular valley views. One of the Tyrrells’ main drivers is to help people get back to nature.

There is no Wi-Fi but rather the Milky Way to gaze at, outdoor baths nestled in the forest (one of the domes also has its own private baths) and a seven-hectare forest to explore. There is a shared lodge with cooking facilities for those that want to self-cater or the couple also offers a home-cooked dinner.

“We were nervous when we started but it’s been a huge success. We’re really passionate about it and proud of what we’ve created,” says Amber. “It really is magical with the fire going in the domes, fairy lights on and the moon out. It’s a beautiful experience.”

Since Valley Views Glamping opened in 2017, its six accommodation geodesic domes have experienced around 80% occupancy year-round.

“There’s no shortage of people that want to go glamping.”

Guests are almost an even split of locals and international tourists. The nearby Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail, which opened in 2013, has opened up another market. Amber says people come to escape the pressures of modern life, engage with nature and have a “mental reset.”

The couple has focused on offering a mix of accommodations in terms of size and facilities to cater to a variety of budgets from a dome with its own private outdoor baths and composting toilet to more simple domes which use shared toilet facilities in the lodge. Three domes have their own composting toilets, five domes have their own fire and one dome is wheelchair accessible.

Amber and Patrick have endeavoured to make as little impact on the environment as possible by choosing sustainable materials and eco-products wherever they can. They have a septic tank worm farm and recycle everything they can.

The Tyrrells do virtually all the work themselves apart from staff cleaning the domes and bathrooms and love to be hands-on with their glamping enterprise. Although they’ve chosen to make glamping their full-time business, Amber sees no reason why other farmers couldn’t benefit from diversifying their income into ecotourism on their land.

“It’s a great business,” says Amber, “and there’s no shortage of people that want to go glamping. We really love it. We meet amazing people from all over New Zealand and the world every day.”

© Waterford Press Ltd 2024 – Independent Print Media New Zealand

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