Help keep New Zealand beautiful by supporting conservation-conscious tourism operators during your visit.

Here are a few notable examples of tourism operators doing their bit for conservation:

New Zealand’s pure, unspoilt environment draws visitors from all over the world. However, many of the country’s unique species are critically endangered, and conservation areas are under pressure from increasing tourist numbers. An awareness of these issues has led many travellers to look for opportunities to minimise the impact of their travel, by spending their tourist dollar with operators who make a positive impact on the environment, or even contribute their own time to conservation efforts.
With 17% of New Zealand’s GDP coming from the land, and 30% of the country designated as conservation areas, it is not surprising that New Zealanders are passionate about their natural environment. This is most evident in the tourism sector, where so many businesses’ livelihoods are dependent on preserving and improving the environment.

Sinbad Sanctuary Project, Southern Discoveries.

SOUTHERN DISCOVERIES are helping preserve Milford Sound’s beauty for future generations with the Sinbad Sanctuary Project. They have donated $330,000 over the past 10 years to see the valley of New Zealand’s most photographed mountain (Sinbad Gully is at the base of Mitre Peak) become a sanctuary for native species. A pest control programme is allowing threatened birds, lizards and invertebrate species such as the Sinbad skink, kiwi, cascade gecko, and whio (blue duck) to increase in number.

Rainbow Springs, Rotorua.

Rotorua’s RAINBOW SPRINGS NATURE PARK is proud to provide visitors with the opportunity to view and learn about New Zealand’s precious wildlife. In addition to their vast array of birds and reptiles (including some of our most endangered species), Rainbow Springs is also home to the world’s largest kiwi hatchery. Their specialist kiwi team have successfully hatched, raised and released over 1750 kiwi back into the wild – there’s no better place to see and learn about New Zealand’s national icon.

Rotorua Canopy Tours.

ROTORUA CANOPY TOURS conservation vision is to return the 500 hectare forest they operate in to a pre-human state, with every ticket sale helping to raise funds for conservation efforts. To date, 280 hectares of the reserve are under predator-control. They have raised over $250,000 since 2013 and were proud to have their efforts recognised as Winners of the Environmental Award at the NZ Tourism Awards 2016.

WAIMANGU VOLCANIC VALLEY voluntarily introduced a predator control scheme in the year 2000 which is funded by contributions from visitor entry fees and donations – they aim to preserve and protect the valley’s unique botany.

Taiaroa Head Lighthouse, Royal Albatross Colony, Otago.

Down in the deep south, the OTAGO PENINSULA TRUST has developed a number of exciting and sustainable attractions for visitors, including Glenfalloch Woodland Gardens, which was saved for everyone to enjoy in 1969. Or visit the Royal Albatross Centre, where albatross, blue penguins and other wildlife are protected and able to be viewed in their natural habitat. The Trust’s mandate is “To Preserve and Enhance Otago Peninsula” which it has been achieving since 1967.

Yellow Eyed Penguins, Elm Wildlife Tours, Otago.

ELM WILDLIFE TOURS have won many awards for their commitment to eco-tourism. They are active in conservation, focusing on the yellow-eyed penguin. Their work aims to protect and extend potential breeding grounds and habitats in the area.

THE OTOROHANGA KIWI HOUSE & NATIVE BIRD PARK is a non-profit conservation and wildlife park with many New Zealand native birds and reptiles – dedicated to protecting Kiwi and other native birds from extinction since 1971. They have bred over 200 Kiwi for release back into the wild, and play a vital role in the survival of Kiwi in NZ.

Encounter Kaikoura.

ENCOUNTER KAIKOURA created their Encounter Foundation in 2009 to support the wildlife in the area of their dolphin and albatross tours. They have completed a number of successful projects over the years including tree planting, recycling in schools programs, Dusky Dolphin protection and ocean clean-ups.

SANCTUARY MOUNTAIN PROJECT began with a dream to protect the diversity of plant and animal species living on Maungatautari. Local iwi, residents, and landowners came together with an aim to restore and protect this precious eco-system, and t 3400 hectares the maunga is by far the largest pest-proof fenced project in the world. At 47km long, it offers a safe haven for many of New Zealand’s most endangered species. Visitors are welcome.

REAL JOURNEYS founder Les Hutchins is also founder of the Leslie Hutchins Conservation Foundation. A $1 passenger levy on Real Journeys Doubtful Sound operations raises $50,000 each year to fund projects that include dolphin research, protection programmes for endangered birds, outdoor education camps and wilding pine eradication. In 2015 the company was awarded a Department of Conservation (DOC) Certificate of Appreciation for its role in clearing the land of vast areas of invasive wilding pines that threaten the Queenstown and Central Otago landscape, and replacing them with native bush and grassland.

ZIPTREK ECOTOURS have been involved in many sustainability and conservation projects around Queenstown Lakes in recent years, from the Wakatipu Reforestation Trust to the Queenstown Trails Trust and Paper 4 Trees. As of this year, they are supporting the Kea Conservation Trust who are tasked with protecting these sociable and highly intelligent, native birds. As part of this initiative, they will be asking guests to donate $2 for each tour bookings and getting guides to monitor the local area, particularly up around Ben Lomond where Kea have previously been spotted.

Auckland Whale and Dolphin Safari.

AUCKLAND WHALE AND DOLPHIN SAFARI make it easy to experience the astonishingly abundant wildlife of the beautiful Hauraki Gulf Marine Park. Working closely with the Department of Conservation and local universities they have established New Zealand’s only research-based marine mammal experience. Far more than just seeing these magnificent creatures, passengers are fully immersed in the important scientific research efforts taking place and enjoy an expert education about whales, dolphins, other marine wildlife and their precious home. Every passenger contributes to these research and conservation efforts, just by coming on board.


Do the basics by ensuring rubbish is put in bins, camping only where you are supposed to, recycling and consuming less landfill waste. Make choices based on sustainability, by choosing to spend your money with operators that are minimising their environmental impact, or like those listed above, are actively working to protect and enhance New Zealand’s natural environment. For those wanting to take the next step, enquire with the tourist operators listed as to whether there is the chance to volunteer in their conservation efforts, or go to which lists opportunities to work as volunteers with the Department of Conservation, Keep New Zealand Beautiful, Landcare Trust, and Forest & Bird.

DISCLOSURE OF INTEREST: Arrival Magazine sponsors Rotorua Canopy Tours forest regeneration programme.

Header Image: Ziptrek Ecotours, Queenstown