Green Globe 21: Several of the properties and excursions mentioned in this itinerary are members of Green Globe 21, the worldwide benchmarking and certification programme which facilitates sustainable travel and tourism for consumers, companies and communities. It is based on Agenda 21 and Principles for Sustainable Development endorsed by 182 governments at the United Nations Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit in 1992.
Accommodation: In general, New Zealand is a very environmentally friendly country, but certain properties have excelled in their eco-friendly approach. The Summer House in Kerikeri is the first B&B in the world to be Green Globe 21 benchmarked and their attention to conservation attracts 27 bird species to their gardens.The Heritage Hotel in Rotorua has also achieved Green Globe accreditation.
Wilderness Lodge in Arthur's Pass was specifically set up to show that ecotourism can contribute to the economy and also protect the environment through nature conservation. Lodge owner Dr Gerry McSweeney is currently the National President of the National Forest and Bird Protection Society, and he and his naturalist guides can take you on guided tours of the farm, the mountains and the forest.
New Zealand excels in its small, family-run bed and breakfast properties, where visitors experience true kiwi hospitality as well as often learning more about the area they are staying in and meeting the people who live there. This itinerary includes a variety of such properties, many of which are buildings of historic interest and are in stunning locations.
Excursions: No trip to New Zealand is complete without observing the fantastic array of wildlife which is found in every region. By carefully choosing which operators we recommend, visitors to New Zealand can get up close to the wildlife in its natural environment without causing any disturbance. Many of these excursions are small, family-run businesses with a real focus on the environment and giving the visitor a truly unique experience with minimum impact on the environment.
For example, Kiwi Dundee Adventures is owned and managed by Doug and Jan Johansen, both of whom have independently received Queen's medals for their contribution to nature, New Zealand Tourism and education; Ruggedy Range Wilderness Experience on Stewart Island is wholly owned and operated by familes from Stewart Island, and part of the revenue supports local conservation programmes; Myths and Legends in the Marlborough Sounds is run by a local family from their 75 year old Kauri planked launch. Pete's family have lived in the Marlborough Sounds for six generations. His wife, Takutai, is Maori, and together with Tane, their son, they run their ecotours to suit the preferences of the small groups they take on board.
Whale Watch Kaikoura is a Maori-owned enterprise, hugely proud of their commitment to education and their affiliations with international organisations involved in the research of marine life in the Kaikoura Trench. Along with keeping an eye out for sperm whales, seals, dolphins and off-shore birds, on-board naturalists offer a wealth of information about both the wildlife and the local Maori history and culture.
Local Culture: The Maori heritage is an inherent part of New Zealand life, and there are countless opportunities to experience Maori traditions, crafts, food and dance. Te Puia in Rotorua is an excellent place to learn more about all facets of Maori life. It is a working Arts and Crafts Institute, founded by the government in recognition of the real threat to the indigenous race of New Zealand and the need to encourage, foster, train students, exhibit works and restore the Maori culture and Maori arts and crafts. Again, local guides offer an insight into the lives of the local people, their activities and their land.