6 Ways to Travel New Zealand Sustainably: Tips and Tricks

New Zealand is a country that’s on many people’s bucket lists—and for good reason. 

For one, it’s a nature lover’s paradise—featuring a dizzying array of mountains, lakes, and glaciers that can leave one in awe. 

It’s also brimming with cultural sites that showcase a long and rich history of the Maori tribe, an indigenous Polynesian people that have forged this island nation into what it is today.

With all the sights New Zealand has to offer, it’s the task of any responsible traveller to preserve its natural and cultural beauty.

If you have a ticket bound for this country any time soon, here are six tips on travelling to this unique nation with as little negative impact as possible.

1) Opt For Sustainable Transportation

While the carbon footprint from flying to New Zealand is inevitable, there are ways you can lessen your environmental impact when in the country.

One great way is by carpooling or sharing rides with other travellers. Going this route not only reduces your carbon emissions, but it also alleviates road congestion—leading to less vehicle exhaust overall.

You can usually find travellers who are open to ridesharing in tourist hotspots or hostels. In fact, some hostels even offer guided tour programs which you can make use of too. 

These programs are also a great way to meet new people while still lessening your environmental impact. If your tour provider has multiple options, be sure to pick a car that emits the least amount of fossil fuels too to greatly reduce your impact.

Make sure you rent your car from a sustainable company like Enterprise Car Rentals who are committed to offering sustainable solutions allowing you to minimise your carbon impact and travel New Zealand sustainably. 

2) Use Sustainable Items

Another simple yet effective way to travel sustainably in New Zealand—and everywhere else, as a matter of fact—is to pack and make use of sustainable items.

Single-use items like plastic bags can and should be replaced with eco-friendly alternatives like tote or bamboo bags. Plan to take out food from a restaurant? Bring your own lockable food tins and do away with styrofoam containers.

In New Zealand, the tap water is also clean and safe to consume. You don’t need to buy water bottles from supermarkets and add more waste to the local dump site.

Besides reusable items, if you use sustainable items back at home, bring these items to your trip too, whether they’re vegan shoes, bamboo toothbrushes, or eco-friendly hygienic products. Plan to go out often? Use a high-quality sunscreen brand that won’t damage corals and natural deodorant.

As minuscule as these actions may seem, every little effort counts in making New Zealand more habitable and enjoyable for years to come.

3) Travel Slowly

New Zealand’s home to many wonderful sites and attractions, and it may seem tempting to rush from place to place to see them all.

But if sustainable living means anything to you, then you may have to take a step back and reevaluate your jam-packed itinerary.

Moving around often comes with the indirect consequence of producing more waste and emissions. After all, you’ll be outside more often and likely be driving or riding a vehicle for miles on end.

Instead of rushing through your itinerary, try to be more mindful about your pace. Slow down and think of only a few major spots that you’d like to visit. 

This way, you’ll travel more intentionally, enjoy the spots more intimately, and produce less waste along the way.

Photo by Jil Beckmann on Unsplash

4) Support Local Businesses

Patronising local businesses—from artisan shops, restaurants, and vendors, to tour guides—is one way to travel and experience New Zealand sustainably. 

For one, it allows you to support the economy of traditional crafts and trinkets. It also helps you conserve and maintain cultural heritage since you’re giving money directly to these individuals.

Another reason why this is a sustainable option is because you’re doing away with long-distance logistics. Imported goods can come from all over the world, and by supporting locally-sourced produce and food, you’re reducing your carbon footprint greatly.

5) Protect Wildlife and Nature

If you intend to hike or explore New Zealand’s countless nature trails and beaches, it’s crucial to respect and protect the natural wilderness and the animals that call the place its home.

This not only means refraining from getting into close contact with these creatures, but it also means minimising their exposure to outside resources like human food and waste products.

Furthermore, it’s also essential to keep your distance from these animals. While many would scurry away at the sight of humans, some could get aggressive. 

Getting too close to wild animals can cause avoidable harm to both you and the animal—so it’s best to tread lightly whenever you come across these creatures.

Besides animals, it’s important to not disturb and pluck the flora of this island nation. 

This country is home to many native plants like silver ferns and southern beech that can only be found in New Zealand, so it’s important to conserve and avoid damaging these plants by staying in the designated trail and following the seven LNT principles.

Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash

6) Choose Hotels with a High ETIC Score

Choosing the right hotel is also something to be conscious about if you want to do your part in travelling sustainably.

While a lot of hotels and chains claim to be environmentally friendly, the best way to truly evaluate their dedication to the cause is by looking into unbiased, third-party ratings and certifications.

Hotels with a high ETIC score are dedicated to promoting a sustainable lifestyle to their guests and promoting other environmental conservation efforts. 

Hotels in this category put conscious effort into ensuring that their carbon footprint is low and that they’re not producing trash recklessly. 

The ETIC green score system—for those unaware—measures environmental, cultural, and social sustainability. It also accounts for site protection and proper management practices. The higher the score, the more aligned a hotel is with the values of the ETIC project.

These hotels employ practices such as waste reduction, energy efficiency, water conservation, and active involvement in community initiatives, making them a responsible choice for eco-conscious travellers.

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