Big adventures, small footprints
New Zealand’s rugged natural beauty might be a flight away, but there are many ways in which your clients can tread lightly when they visit.
New Zealanders feel a special connection with the land, and many tourism operators are helping preserve and enrich the environment through conservation and sustainability projects.
Visitors can contribute too – whether it’s by volunteering, staying in an energy efficient hotel, or going on tour with a company that protects the area and wildlife on show.
From electric campervans to luxury lodges, many New Zealand accommodation providers are putting the environment first.
Camp Glenorchy Eco Retreat, Queenstown
Warm, welcoming and smart, Camp Glenorchy is built to a world-first sustainability code and features energy-efficient buildings, smart lighting, composting toilets and a solar garden. The owners hope to inspire guests to embrace sustainability in their own homes.
The Hotel Britomart, Auckland
Opening mid-2020, Hotel Britomart will be New Zealand's first 5-star Green Star Hotel. The rigorous commitment to sustainability extends to the fit out and operations of the 99-room/5-suite hotel that occupies a heritage site and is constructed in handmade bricks. Amenities will include custom guides to running and cycling routes.
Mahu Whenua, Wanaka
2019 marked a decade since New Zealand’s largest conservation project began on Mahu Whenua's vast private high-country farming estate, and the results are already beginning to show. With 1.5 million trees and grasses planted and pest-proof fencing to protect wildlife, the landscape is blooming once again, allowing native birds and bee populations to increase. There are special weekends when guests in the luxury lodge can be involved in conservation work on the land, helping with planting or bird conservation.
The Landing offers four spectacular private residences in the Bay of Islands that stand on some of New Zealand's most historically significant land. The luxury property's wetlands restoration and development of bird sanctuaries has encouraged the return of many rare and endangered bird species, including kiwi, pateke (brown teal), paradise ducks, pukeko and oystercatchers.
For visitors wanting to roll up their sleeves, there are lots of opportunities to take part during a tourism activity or volunteer for conservation projects.
Napier Māori Tours – plant a tree
A family-run Māori cultural tour in Hawke’s Bay offers insights into the significance and beauty of two of Napier’s special landscapes - the Ahuriri Estuary and historic Ōtātara Pā, once the site of a major fortified village. Visitors on the tours can share their passion by planting a native tree seedling, then watching it grow via geo-coordinates.
Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre, Masterton – be a ranger for a day
Join a ranger for the day on a hands-on conservation experience in the wildlife centre that pioneered captive breeding techniques for some of New Zealand’s most threatened bird species. Start the day before everyone else, shadow the team on daily duties which may include weighing kiwi, feeding bush birds, and cleaning inside aviaries.
Explore Marlborough – help regenerate native forest whilst sipping on Sauvignon Blanc
Recently Zero Carbon-certified, Explore Marlborough runs guided and self-guided biking and driving wine tours of the sunny Marlborough region. With most wineries within a 3 km radius and flat, easy trails, trips are suitable for all fitness levels. Cycling is a low-carbon activity and any emissions from the company’s driving tours are offset through supporting the regeneration of indigenous rainforest on New Zealand’s South Island.
Around the world, diners are demanding more in terms of locally sourced, ethical options. New Zealand is no different, with new ethical eateries popping up all the time. Here are just a few options in the main cities.
In New Zealand’s largest city, conscious eaters are spoiled for choice. Take Orphan’s Kitchen, which uses local, organic produce and whose manifesto even respects New Zealand’s weather conditions – if produce can't be sourced locally in season, it won't be on the menu. Many hotel restaurants are following suit, with vegan-friendly Hectors at the Heritage sourcing all ingredients within a 50-km radius. No shortcuts are taken at Pasture, whose core ethos is “nature-inspired” eating, with as much as possible made from scratch. The menu is led by what’s in season and many ingredients are foraged for.
The capital offers some of the best ethical eating around. After winning a swag of awards in 2019, Hiakai is making a splash on New Zealand’s food scene by blending fine dining with traditional Māori cooking techniques and ingredients. Wellington’s charming Rita is housed in an old cottage and the produce is local, sustainable, and the set menu changes constantly. Another way to get to know Wellington’s artisan food scene is by joining a Zest food tour, which showcases passionate producers with tastings of locally produced chocolate, coffee, gelato and more.
Christchurch’s dining scene is as dynamic as its changing cityscape. A mainstay on every best restaurant list, Twenty Seven Steps is situated upstairs on picturesque New Regent Street. It serves hearty meals made from locally-sourced and seasonal ingredients. Another tasty classic is C1 Espresso, which grows ingredients for its kitchen in its urban organic gardens and has a vineyard in the forecourt. The old post office building it operates out of is heated using waste energy from the coffee roastery and kitchen. For an innovative plant-based menu, suggest your clients book at table at Gatherings, which celebrates Canterbury food producers and encourages mindful eating.