The Lockdown Series - Off-grid Venue Little Wilderness

A series featuring talented wedding vendors with incredible values collated during the Lockdown. Created to inspire, intrigue and showcase how truly amazing New Zealand small businesses and their founders are. (Make sure you read to the bottom to see the Lockdown checklist making us all giggle).


Next up is George Vodanovich from Little Wilderness - an off grid wedding and events venue with eco principles in stunning Huapai, Auckland.


Was there a moment when you realised this is what you wanted to do and what was your inspiration?

Our wedding seven years ago was DIY and after the marquee, portaloos and other required add-ons it got quite expensive. We were interested to see if we could create a venue that had basic facilities and yet could provide a beautiful and functional setting for other couples for their special day. Our whole ethos for planting and resource management is loosely based on principles of permaculture so the venue had to follow suit. 


Photo Credit Charlotte Christian Weddings


After research into alternative energy and international examples we realised we could create an off-grid events business that worked in harmony with our ongoing planting and restorative work and Little Wilderness started to form. This eco-led focus turned out to be one of our strongest points of difference from other venues. 


We realised we could create an off-grid events business that worked in harmony with our ongoing planting and restorative work...

Photo Credit Little Wilderness


Our Head of Landscape Design who is also my dear mum, Charmaine, has a knack for gathering inspiration from around the world and weaving them into the curated spaces you see, both grown, gathered and built. From Australian architects that champion corrugated iron to the eccentric gardens of Prince Charles, you can see traces throughout Wilderness. I am constantly learning from her. 

My other source of inspiration is my wife Katie who has a sound business mind, the voice of reason. Katie somehow manages to have bandwidth to do our social media, meet and liaise with other business owners all while raising our three daughters (three under 3!)


From Australian architects that champion corrugated iron to the eccentric gardens of Prince Charles, you can see traces throughout Wilderness.

Photo Credit Little Wilderness


Why are you passionate about what you do?

It’s that golden hour when the sun is going down, music is playing and people are dotted around the site laughing and chatting. That’s the pay-off for me and what keeps me passionate about what I do.


Photo Credit Little Wilderness


A large chunk of event revenue goes back into planting and maintenance of the property so we love the fact that people hosting events with Little Wilderness generally leave the place better than when they arrived. 


What are the biggest challenges you face in your business when trying to be sustainable?

Coming from a high waste industry like events it’s an ongoing learning curve to minimize waste without sacrificing the event experience. We learn a lot as we go from other like minded people in the industry.


How can people be more mindful when choosing options with venues?

By reminding themselves that a wedding is one day (a very important day) and instead of buying everything brand new try renting, reusing, repurposing and recycling - there are some great forums online for inspiration.


Any tips on having a more eco friendly wedding?

Yes we do - check out our page here for 5 tips on reducing the carbon footprint of your next event.


Are you taking bookings at the moment?

Yes. We start tours again this Saturday 16th May and getting back to enquiries from past weeks.


When you're not working, you're….

Hanging with my wife and kids on some sort of adventure or enjoying music and/or wine with friends and family. We have a newborn as of last month so currently lots of one hand typing while she dozes on me.


What have you learnt along the way

There’s a really strong local community of people in the sustainable events industry doing amazing things. We meet more with every event.


There’s a really strong local community of people in the sustainable events industry doing amazing things.

Where to from here and how are you going to navigate the next few months.

In the next few months we will be in planting mode, ongoing restorative work whilst hosting a few events and keeping our fingers crossed so we can get past these batshit crazy times of lockdowns. 


In the future we are really excited to launch the more experiential side of our events. We are exploring options of hosting retreats and developing our gardens into either a dedicated food forest or a mix of wild herbal and floral plantings for clients to harvest. Like everyone else I think the goal in these times is to stay nimble and just give it a go. 


Thanks so much George.

A stunning venue making a positive impact. I've seen Little Wilderness - it has an incredible atmosphere you have to experience for yourself. Remember when you're there for a site visit to look at the rocky outcrop and the orchard (and George's dance moves).


See below for the Lockdown Checklist - how many have you done??

(Amazingly, George and Katie also welcomed a little one into the world during Lockdown.)



If you'd like to see more or contact Little Wilderness:


Little Wilderness Instagram

Little Wilderness Facebook

Little Wilderness Website

Email - info@littlewilderness.co.nz


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Renee Harris - One Poppy Wedding Flowers info@onepoppyweddingflowers.co.nz 0212685644

 

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