Virtuoso Life - July/August 2017 - 108
From left: Four-wheeling at The Farm at Cape Kidnappers, Eagles Nest's premier perch, and tiny-house life in Hobbiton.
V I RT U O S O L I F E
Jessica - a request Benji and Clay began
making after learning about plastic pollution in the oceans while at The Brando resort in French Polynesia.
"I don't know how I can put it into words,"
Benji says of his encounters with New
Zealand's rare endemic species and fragile
habitats. "People need to see it with their
own eyes to understand." Which is precisely the point of the family's focus on sustainable travel - to help safeguard our planet for
LEADING THE WAY
Sustainability with star power in French Polynesia.
The Upchurch family kicked off their year of sustainable travel at The Brando in
French Polynesia for good reason: It may be the most sustainable resort in the world.
Set on the private island of Tetiaroa, the property uses solar and coconut-oil power to meet
100 percent of its energy needs, locally sources
or grows its food in on-site organic gardens,
and supports a conservation program to
protect Tetiaroa Atoll, one of the country's most
spectacular. The Brando even caught the attention of former President Barack Obama, who
recently stayed there. Among the highlights of
his visit was taking the resort's sustainability
tour, where he talked with Tetiaroa Society
staff about topics ranging from climate change
Barack Obama tours
impacts to the baby sea turtles that hatched on
The Brando's ecostation.
the beach in front of his villa.
(BARACK OBAMA) COURTESY OF THE BRANDO, (EAGLES NEST) ANDREA GONZALEZ
Forest"), a giant 2,000-year-old kauri tree
that is sacred to the Maori. At The Farm at
Cape Kidnappers, where the Upchurches
also stayed, guides lead families by flashlight
at night into pitch-dark caves that twinkle
with glowworms like a subterranean city's
skyline. "Nature's Las Vegas Strip!" as a delighted Clay put it.
Perhaps no place showcases the country's
splendor like Minaret Station Alpine Lodge.
Located in a high South Island valley accessible only by helicopter, the four-chalet outpost serves as a luxe base camp for glacier
visits in Mount Aspiring National Park, penguin encounters on the coast, and explorations of fjords where 2,000-foot waterfalls
tumble into the sea.
The Upchurches wrapped up their journey at Matakauri Lodge, situated in a forested grove on Lake Wakatipu ten minutes'
drive from Queenstown - known as the "adventure capital of the world." But it wasn't
the adrenaline-inducing zip lines, bungee
jumps, and jet-boat rides through canyons
that captured their attention. Rather, it was
reflecting on how their sustainable-tourism
holidays are also inspiring the family.
"When we order drinks now, both our
boys say, 'Please, no plastic straws,' " says