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The Sunny Side of YHA Aoraki Mt Cook

The Sunny Side of YHA Aoraki Mt Cook

YHA New Zealand have shown their commitment to sustainability by becoming the first commercial operator in Aoraki Mt Cook National Park to install solar power.

YHA Aoraki Mt Cook undertook a major environmental and long-term investment with project partner Sunshine Solar by installing a comprehensive system designed to harness renewable energy and increase efficiency within the hostel.

YHA New Zealand Manager, Operations, Simon Cartwright, says, “the installation of a complete sustainable energy solution at YHA Aoraki Mt Cook is extremely gratifying, and entirely appropriate given the hostel’s location in one of New Zealand’s most prominent National Parks. I am delighted that we can add Aoraki Mt Cook to a growing list of YHA New Zealand hostels that are contributing to reducing our carbon footprint in support of our carbon neutral status.”

The system is extensive and goes beyond just installing solar panels. 300 solar evacuated tubes can produce 30kWhp of energy to heat over 835,000 litres of water each year. A dedicated tank reticulates hot water to ensure a plentiful supply, more efficiently heated.

The impressive array on the roof of YHA Aoraki Mt Cook includes 76 photovoltaic panels, complete with optimizers and inverters. These can produce 21.7kWhp of energy, meaning a total of 74MWh of renewable energy generated by the hostel each year. That could save the equivalent CO2 emissions of 25,172kg of coal burned, or 7.7 homes’ electricity use for a year.

These projected emission reductions are mirrored by the results achieved at YHA Franz Josef and YHA Wellington following their solar installations last year. At the Franz Josef hostel, power usage dropped 39% in the first year of using solar power, accompanied by a 21% drop in gas usage. In YHA Wellington’s first six months, they reduced their CO2 emissions by 5.4 tonnes.

Sunshine Solar’s systems also include splash monitoring – a visual display of power usage throughout each property. This helps identify any high-use areas to be examined and encourages guests to reduce their energy consumption.

While the installation of these systems results in long term financial savings for YHA, that isn’t the only motivating factor. YHA’s managed hostels and National Office became carboNZeroCertTM certified in November 2016; in order to maintain the certification, they’ve committed to reducing their emissions each year.

Sustainability advocate and HR Coordinator, Kate Ufton, says, “Our goal is to keep New Zealand in the same or better state than it is today, so future generations can enjoy our beautiful country. We weave sustainability practices into our everyday operations because that’s how it should be.”

The installation of solar power is the latest upgrade to YHA Aoraki Mt Cook and occurred alongside improvements to bathroom facilities at the hostel. The kitchen was refurbished in 2016 which ensures all facilities meet Qualmark’s 4 Star Plus Gold Rating and demonstrates the organisation’s ongoing commitment to quality standards.

About YHA New Zealand

The Youth Hostels Association of New Zealand, (YHA New Zealand) is a not-for-profit association that was established in 1932 in Canterbury. With a network of 40+ hostels in both islands, YHA New Zealand provides high quality budget accommodation to New Zealanders and international travellers. YHA New Zealand is a committed advocate of sustainable practices. Learn more at

About Sunshine Solar
Sunshine Solar has worked hard to help families, trusts, schools, community organisations and businesses find the best solutions to high power consumption for over a decade. Sunshine Solar keeps pace with this emerging and evolving market while also teaming up with the University of Canterbury and Christchurch Polytechnic to work on desalination and alternative energy solutions for third world communities.


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