Many know New Zealand for its clean, green image – especially since the country’s tourism campaigns are centred on this sustainable notion. But in order to keep the country’s landscapes beautiful and pristine, everyone has to do their part. If you’ve got your sights on these shores, here’s how you can make an eco-friendly difference during your travels.
Prioritise public transport
A car might be a necessary evil if you’re trying to get to remote parts of the country, but most of New Zealand is well-serviced when it comes to inter-city transport. Buses are the norm for this kind of travel – some companies like Intercity even offer flexible hop-on, hop-off passes if you want to explore lots of different places.
Be on the lookout for eco-friendly tours
Depending on where you’re going, it won’t be too hard to find tour operators whose funds go straight back into environmental projects and wildlife conservation. Milford Sound, Akaroa, the Bay of Islands and the Otago Peninsula are key destinations for eco-tours – the latter in particular is famous for being home to the world’s only mainland royal albatross colony at Taiaroa Head.
Check your accommodation’s sustainability credentials
Qualmark is Tourism New Zealand’s official quality surveying body, assessing all accommodation providers and tour operators according to their environmental friendliness, health and safety protocols, among other benchmarks that prove their credibility. Businesses are given Enviro Gold, Silver and Bronze awards if their sustainable practices and policies are up to a high standard. Sustainable New Zealand is another good resource for those trying to find out if a company is eco-friendly.
From luxury ecolodges to exemplary eco-friendly hotels, New Zealand makes it easy for tourists to travel green.
Do some conservation volunteering
The Department of Conservation organises several volunteering events across the nation, ranging from tree planting days to the laying out of pest traps in areas where there are threatened wildlife species. If you’re spending some extended time in a single town or city, also keep an eye out for community conservation projects – you can usually find these on event listings at a local council’s website, through social media or even through the traditional community notices and newspapers.
Make the most of the national parks, multi-day hikes, campsites and nature reserves that have earned New Zealand its green reputation. You’ll need to be quick to secure your spot for the huts on some of the Great Walks due to their popularity, especially during the high summer season. Otherwise, just do your homework about the various walks and natural getaways you’ll have access to (again, the Department of Conservation website is a good resource for this) and plan your off-grid adventures accordingly.
Hop on a bike
Maybe you’re an active soul who prefers to explore New Zealand on two wheels. In that case, there are a number of multi-day cycling routes you can try. Examples include the South Island’s Otago Rail Trail and the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail; for North Island alternatives, try the Timber Trail or the Waikato River Trails for size.
Most towns and cities will have their very own farmers’ markets, where local growers and producers come together to sell their goodies. The Otago Farmers’ Market is among the country’s most famous and is one of a few in the South Island to operate year-round. If you’re in the North Island, make sure to check out La Cigale in Auckland, the Hawke’s Bay Farmers’ Market in Hastings and the Harbourside Market in Wellington – all of these have become quite iconic in their respective communities.
Avoid plastic at all costs
Plastic waste has become a hot-button issue around the world – and in New Zealand, it’s no different. It’s hard to give up plastic completely, but every little measure counts. You could invest in a metal drink bottle that you fill up during the day; you could bring your own cup to a café whenever you’re wanting some takeaway coffee; you could buy a reusable bag for your groceries; and if you’re not cooking your own meals, you could prioritise dining in.
Respect your surroundings
Every so often, backpackers and freedom campers get negative press locally for not cleaning up after themselves – and we’re not just talking about food scraps here. Don’t be that person: if you’re going to be camping on public grounds, don’t make a mess, and take any rubbish you can’t readily dispose with you. Common sense reminders aside, try to recycle whenever you can – many public places will have separate bins for general waste and recyclable materials.
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Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
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