Owen River Lodge is New Zealand’s first B Corp certified accommodation provider

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Luxury South Island Fly Fishing Retreat Owen River Lodge is the first hosting provider in New Zealand to be recognized as a Certified B Company, or B Corp.

The rigorous certification process measures social and environmental performance, with organizations being audited to assess their impact on five key areas: workers, customers, governance, environment and community.

Owen River Lodge owner/manager Felix Borenstein said obtaining accreditation was “long and difficult and took months”.

“We have had Qualmark Luxury Lodge accreditation since 2017 and have won some very big industry awards here and abroad, so I felt confident about the B Corp certification. But it was a whole different order of difficulty.

“It’s definitely worth it, though, to prove you’re following the chops.”

Achieving certification puts Owen River Lodge in a select group of just 390 companies in Australia and New Zealand, including local corporate responsibility leaders Kiwibank and Kathmandu.

“We are also the only fishing lodge in the world to have this accreditation,” explains Felix. “So we’re rubbing shoulders with Patagonia and Fishpond, which is pretty mind-blowing.”

The lodge, which caters primarily to an affluent international market, has been hit hard by border closures over the past two years. It is a source of pride for Felix that Owen River Lodge has survived with all the staff still employed.

“There aren’t a lot of job opportunities in a small place like Murchison, so the layoffs would have impacted the whole community,” he says. “And other than that, I just worked on the things that I still had some control over, like the restoration plantings along our river frontage and getting the Lodge Carbon Positive certification with Ekos.

“It turns out that’s exactly the kind of stuff that B Corp certification is about—doing the right thing, basically.”

He says B Corp has gained a lot of ground in recent years and accreditation is becoming an increasingly important marker of corporate social responsibility.

“That’s how business will be in the future,” he says. “And I’m very happy that we jumped on board early.”

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