Environment: 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.
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 Rod, the owner, will happily take you on en eco-tour of the region. Their attention to conservation attracts 27 bird species to their gardens.
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. 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.
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. They are currently applying for Green Globe certification. 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. On-board naturalists offer a wealth of information about both the wildlife and the local Maori history and culture.
Myths and Legends in the Marlborough Sounds is a very small operation, 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, and since the destruction caused by the introduction of ferry routes to the Sounds, he has founded a very successful environmental watchdog group called the "Guardians of the Sounds". 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. All excursions recommended in our itineraries focus on small groups, lead by operators whose policies respect the environments into which they take visitors, leaving as little impact as possible.
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.
Community: 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. As well as this, it is a centre for Maori cultural performances, and is built next to an area of great thermal activity steeped in Maori myths. Local guides offer an insight into the lives of the local people, their activities and their land.
Smaller operators such as Mitai, who invite visitors to come and experience formal Maori ceremonies followed by feasting and entertainment, support local tribes and allow visitors an insight into these traditions in a more authentic and personal environment. Ruggedy Range Wilderness Experience on Stewart Island is wholly owned and operated by families from Stewart Island, and part of the revenue supports local conservation programmes. They are currently applying for Green Globe certification.
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, a wonderful contrast to the impersonal, international hotel chains.
Environment: Much of the environment in Fiji is fragile, and it is imperative that both the local population and visitors to the islands are aware of the irreparable damage which can be caused to eco-systems such as the reefs. We try wherever possible to recommend guides, activities and accommodation which demonstrate a clear commitment to responsible and sustainable tourism principles.
On the main island of Viti Levu we have suggested Sonaisali Island Resort. This was the first resort in Fiji to become Green Globe Certified, and the management are passionate about minimising the impact of the resort on the island. An example of their efforts is their hydroponic farm which supplies fresh, organic food daily for both guests and staff.
In the Mamanuca Islands we recommend Tokoriki Island Resort, a founding member of the Mamanuca Environment Society, who strive to improve and protect the local environment through awareness and education. MES contributes to the community in a number of different ways, from education programmes in schools to clean-up campaigns in surrounding villages. Tokoriki has also initiated the 'giant clam regeneration project', reintroducing three different species of giant clams which had previously disappeared to the waters around the island.
Community: The management of Sonaisali Island Resort are committed to employing local Fijians throughout the company. On the ground in Fiji we use an excellent, local, family-owned agent who demonstrate care for the environment, preservation of their culture and commitment to the community. As part of an ongoing project they have helped create townships which provide new, cyclone resistant housing with running water where previously there had been inadequate housing. Every visitor is greeted on arrival with a true Fijian welcome, and looked after throughout the duration of their stay in Fiji.