Living In Peace Project Information

Rongo Backpackers & Gallery, Karamea Farm Baches, Karamea Connections and the Global Gypsy Gallery form the financial base of the LiP Project and support the development of the venture by providing income to fund expansion. The eco-tourism businesses incorporate art, permaculture, and volunteerism, into their management structures and strive to be energy efficient, progressive, professional and profitable.


Any business venture has an environmental impact, but the Living In Peace Project strives to minimise the environmental cost of operating the business and is always pursuing means of being more energy efficient.

4th Night Free

Both Rongo Backpackers & Gallery and Karamea Farm Baches offer the fourth night free. There are many reasons for this, firstly, Karamea is not yet a well-known tourist destination and there are a lot of great attractions to see and activities to do here. By offering an incentive for people to stay four nights, it also gives them an opportunity to explore the region and get and appreciation for the quality of the tourist experience on offer here. Fourth night free is also an eco-tourism concept in which we reduce the amount of water, electricity, washing detergent, labour and cleaning products we use by 75% (as oppose to cleaning the rooms and doing the laundry daily for single-night stays) and improve the longevity of the linen, towels and laundry equipment in the process. In addition, the 4th night free policy enables us get past the initial “Who are you?” “Where are you from?” “What do you do?” questions and into conversations of more substance by getting to know our guests over four days…a far more satisfying experience for both guest and accommodation provider.

Solar Hot Water

Rongo Backpackers & Gallery has not used any electricity to heat water since 2005. The water is heated with an Apricus solar system and augmented with a wood-burning water heater and a wetback system on the living room fireplace. This is a significant cost saving in terms of economics and the environment. Karamea Farm Baches also have solar pre-heaters installed to defray the cost of heating the water with electricity and solar systems will be installed to heat the water at the baches in future.

Carbon Sink

A 31-hectare (80-acre) regenerating bush property provides a carbon offset for the emissions associated with the business. We actively encourage people to visit Karamea, a remote town in the remote country of New Zealand. To fly here from Europe, Asia and America and other parts of the world incurs a carbon cost for which we must take responsibility. To offset this, we keep the bush block to balance the carbon emissions we produce in the service of our business. The property doubles as an attraction and we plan to build a simple camp ground there to enable people to enjoy the property and have an experience that is not possible in many parts of the world.

Filming in Regenerating Forest in 2012

Making the Living in Peace Project Video

Permaculture Farm

The project aims to be self-sufficient in the production of food—fruit, vegetables, meat and firewood—in addition, we provide delicious organic meals for our guests. Our meals are made from organic, nutritious and locally produced seasonal fruit, vegetables, venison, beef, lamb, pork, chicken, fish and other seafood grown on our farm, or sourced locally.

Mountain biking on the Heaphy Track

Mountain biking is now permitted on the Heaphy Track from May 1 to September 30. Mountain biking on the Heaphy Track is a boon for Rongo Backpackers & Gallery and Karamea Farm Baches as well as all the other service businesses in Karamea as it irons out the seasonality of our respective businesses by increasing the tourist traffic in the winter months. It also leads to better utilisation of the DOC huts and facilities and provides additional income to maintain and improve the amenities on the Heaphy Track.

Mountain Bike Ride on the Heaphy Track

WestCoast Labour MP Damien O'Connor (second from left) and Friends Enjoy a Mountain Bike Ride on the Heaphy Track

The new Fenian/Oparara Loop Track provides an excellent opportunity to promote the eco-tourism potential of the Karamea region. Mountain bikers can leave Karamea in the morning, cycle the Fenian Track trough to the Oparara Basin and visit the Moria Gate and Oparara arches as well as the Mirror Tarn before cycling back to Karamea ––a round trip of about 60 kilometres and full day of healthy fun, exercise and adventure, but mountain biking is currently not permitted on this track.


The managers at both Karamea Farm Baches and Rongo Backpackers & Gallery are assisted by volunteers and Wwoofers (Willing Workers on Organic Farms). This provides an opportunity to teach travellers from all over the world about organic farming, business management, building maintenance and renovation, the hospitality industry, eco-tourism and sustainability. Wwoofers are invited to stay with us for a minimum of two weeks, most stay much longer as we have an enjoyable, productive, educational and vibrant enterprise that enables travellers to stay a while in one location and to get involved in life in Karamea while they are here in return for help running the businesses and farm…a mutually beneficial arrangement.


International travel is the best form of self-education available. To experience different cultures, fashions, food, architecture, art styles, language, traditions etc. is extremely beneficial for and individual’s personal development and tourism is an important element in the LiP Project business model. Karamea is rapidly becoming a popular destination for both domestic and international travellers and the LiP Project aims to provide travellers to Karamea with a comprehensive, vibrant, educational and memorable travel experience.

LiP Project Membership

The LiP Project is seeking financial support from its members to expand further and to build on the foundation we’ve established. Becoming a LiP Project member enables you to be actively involved in the project and to support an innovative venture that is striving to minimise the environmental impact of the business, maximise energy efficiency and create a socially harmonious environment for people from all walks of life to enjoy.

LiP Project members support the project in an important way. If you are unable to physically come and lend a hand, your financial support is invaluable in helping fund the growth and development of the project, which you can then visit and enjoy. There is significant potential for further growth and your support is greatly appreciated.

Support the LivingInPeace Project by becoming a member. Become a Member


Permaculture is a self-sustaining organic farming system that provides agricultural produce for the LiP Project volunteers and enables us to prepare fresh, locally grown organic meals for our guests. Providing our guests with top quality, healthy food is a focus that also minimises the carbon cost of food production by reducing the amount of food imported to Karamea to feed visitors to the region.


Artistic excellence and creativity is the cornerstone of the LiP Project. Rongo is the result of the collective imaginations of many creative people from all round the world and the entire property is now a work of art, which houses a fabulous and diverse local and international art collection.

The LiP Project also has an Artist-in-Residency programme that began in 2005. We have hosted more than thirty international artists.

Global Gypsy Gallery

Global Gypsy Gallery

Gerar Toye at the Global Gypsy Gallery

In 2006, we purchased the old Karamea Information Centre building, which is in a prime retail location in the main street of Karamea opposite the supermarket. The building is being transformed into a gallery, Internet café, recycled clothing, and organic food shop. In the future, we plan to open a farmer’s market to sell excess farm produce. Gerar Toye a well-known New Zealand photographer and author, and Paul Murray, who is also a photographer, jointly own the building. The shop displays and sells photographs by both artists as well as the work of other local artists.

Karamea Radio

Rongo Backpackers & Gallery houses a community radio station–Karamea Radio 107.5FM. The radio station offers and opportunity for visitors and residents of Karamea to be disc jockeys play their favourite music live on air. The radio station provides a community service, a source of entertainment, education, a means of broadcasting information about local events and civil service emergencies if required. Future possibilities include; boosting the signal strength to increase broadcast range, a recording studio for musicians and online streaming of radio broadcasts.

BellBirds on Karamea Radio

BellBirds Live on Karamea Radio 107.5 FM


We purchased a 10-seater shuttle bus in 2008 that enables us to offer a series of tours around the Karamea region that includes trips to scenic locations like the Oparara Basin, Mt. Stormy, Karamea Gorge etc. as well as enabling us to pass on historical information about the region’s gold-mining, saw-milling, flax-milling industries as well as stories about the development of the dairy and tourism economies, the Karamea Wharf, Murchison Earthquake and the construction of the road linking Karamea with Westport.

Karamea Connections Van

Karamea Connections: Movement of the People
This Website has been registered with the view to providing transport services along the West Coast involving other like-minded organisations and providing transport for travellers interested in exploring other eco-tourism operations on the Coast. This is a future project and will develop as resources become available.


Health and fitness is an important part of the LiP Project. We aim to provide healthy, nutritious, locally grown organic meals for our guests as well as a range of outdoor activities such as hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, mountain climbing, fishing, yoga, sports and leisure programmes that encourage visitors to Karamea to participate in active physical pursuits while they are staying with us.


International tourism provides and excellent opportunity to introduce people from all over the world to the concepts of permaculture, sustainability and organic food production, cooking as well as art, cultural information, green building, recycling, waste minimisation and social harmony. Last year, Rongo guests came from over 50 different countries, which provides for cultural exchange, understanding, education and opportunities for broadening individual world perspectives. Rongo is a centre of international cultural exchange and the volunteer programme lends itself to this particularly well as people from all over the world live and work with each other in the LiP Project.


Tours, permaculture farm, forest campsite, locally grown organic food cafe, language exchange programme as well as yoga, photography, permaculture, meditation, organic food production and healing workshops.