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Eco your way around New Zealand

Georgia Muir
Friday, January 16, 2009
Eco your way around New Zealand
Climate change and global warming have raised much concern over the fragility of our precious ecosystems so why not take a break and contribute to a project along the way.
Georgia Muir
It's very easy to eco your way around New Zealand. The flora and fauna are so magnificent you will feel motivated to tread as lightly as possible, transport is accessible and affordable, there are numerous conservation projects to get involved in and countless eco-friendly accommodation options.

Transport
Air travel has the highest environmental impact of any form of transport, so if you can avoid flying domestically you'll be doing the environment a favour. Luckily, all of New Zealand is easily accessible by train; bus, ferry and car so there are plenty of alternatives.

Buses
The hop-on-and-hop-off bus network will allow you the flexibility of jumping on and off the bus as you spot places you'd like to explore.

When it comes to the environment, a bus full of passengers is preferable to 30 individual cars all omitting carbon, so try and jump on a bus when possible.

Trains
The extensive railways are an economical and stress-free way to slowly absorb your surroundings. You can choose from Transcoastal, Transalpine and the Overlander routes, all of which unravel the beauty of New Zealand from the comfort of your seat.

Like buses, trains are a good option when striving to reduce your footprint, because they have the capacity to carry hundreds of passengers.

Car
Logistically sometimes you need a car to reach remote places. There are dozens of car rental companies, but two that stand out with the Green Fleet stamp of approval are Apollo Car Rentals and Ace Rental.

Campervans
Campervans are far from carbon neutral, but there are a few ways you counteract the damage along the way. Buying local produce, recycling your waste and opting to bike ride when you reach your destination all help to reduce your carbon footprint.

Campervan NZ has a strong sustainability policy. One initiative they commit to each year is planting 30,000 trees to offset vehicle emissions.

Tour operators
Group travel helps reduce your footprint if you go for a reputable tourism operator that has a transparent and responsible travel policy. Flying Kiwi and Green Realm are two vastly different companies that don't compromise their sense of fun or luxury but have an ongoing commitment to sustainability.

  • Flying Kiwi
    Flying Kiwi is not catered to the risk adverse, they are catered for adventurous travellers wanting to lap up the escapades New Zealand has on offer. Swimming, sand boarding, cycling, sailing; horse riding and glacier hiking are just a few of the adrenalin-riddled activities on offer.

    Flying Kiwi addresses sustainability by insisting on small groups, exploring local areas predominantly on bike or on foot and by redefining their policy every year to ensure they are always improving the way they do business.

    Approximate cost: short trips start from $220 per person.

  • Green Realm travel
    Green Realm tours are the all-encompassing splurge. Expect salubrious accommodation, decadent wines, luxurious boat cruises and a ride in a limousine.

    Whilst this level of indulgence doesn't suggest carbon neutral travel, Green Realm does uphold an admirable level of responsibility. They work with the principles of "kaitiakitanga" (a Maori phrase that represents guardianship, care and protection.) Kaitiakitanga is practised to ensure all natural resources and cultures they come in contact with are preserved as best as possible.

    Approximate cost: Tours start at $4950 twin-share.

Volunteering
Climate change and global warming have raised much concern over the fragility of our precious ecosystems so why not take a break and contribute to a project along the way. You can do anything from assisting with research to planting trees or starting an organic plantation. Projects last from a day to six months. See the New Zealand Trust for Conservation Volunteers and Global Volunteer Network.

Accommodation
If you're wanting to travel independently it's reassuring to know that many hotels, hostels and B&B's embarked on waste minimisation, reforestation and other sustainable measures long before these issues became drilled into us as even being important. Here are just a few of the many accommodation options that give back to the environment.

Green accommodation: North Island

Magic Cottage, Takou River
Escape urban life at the Magic Cottage, a charming boutique hotel on the banks of the Takou River. Plunge into your own private outdoor bath or clear your head with a slow kayak up the Takou River to observe the biodiverse flora and fauna.

You can kick back and comfortably know the Magic Cottage has installed solar panels, gas powered electricity, rainwater tanks and is meticulous about separating waste.

Approximate cost: two night mid-week season specials from $440 a couple.

The Green House on the Hill
Free of pretence and meat, The Green House on the Hill is a bohemian vegetarian bed and breakfast, a stones-throw from the hub of Art Deco, Napier.

The Green Hotel on the Hill reduces its footprint by switching off all appliances where possible, only using clothes dryers in an emergency and only changing guests towels on request.

Approximate cost: from $130 per couple per night.

Green accommodation: South Island

Resurgence
If your mouth waters at the idea of nibbling on fresh berries, drinking delicious Nelson wines and dipping olive oil with fresh local organic breads then this foodie heaven is for you.

Resurgence gives back to the local environment by planting a tree for every couple that stay. In addition, Resurgence sources water from a local deep spring, Takaka Hill, and they purchase local organic food where possible.

Approximate cost: from $345 a couple per night.

Tui Nature Reserve
Voted by BBC Wildlife Magazine as one of the top eco destinations in the world, Tui Nature Reserve is well worth a visit. On an isolated peninsula of Marlborough Island Tui Nature Reserve can only be accessed by boat, water taxi or seaplane and if that doesn't stir up enough adventure then the eco-tours around the reserve sure will.

The Tui Nature Reserve has embarked on many conservation projects to protect the biodiversity of the local flora and fauna. These include breeding programmes for green geckos and skinks and fencing the reserve to project the wildlife from wild pigs.

Approximate cost: from $110 a night per couple.

Have your say: how do you travel 'green'?

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