How to be a more sustainable traveller

18 October 2019

We all want to protect our beautiful planet and its inspiring natural environments and species for future generations, but what actions can we take when travelling to make a difference? Here’s a few tips we have to help you become a more responsible visitor in New Zealand.

1. Choose tour operators that are committed to sustainability and conservation 

Qualmark and other accreditations 

When choosing a tour operator, the Qualmark accreditation is a key sustainability indicator to look out for – it’s New Zealand’s official mark of quality. Qualmark Gold endorsed businesses represent best practice in terms of environmental and host community sustainability, as well as visitor experience and satisfaction.

Southern Discoveries is not only Qualmark Gold endorsed, but we are also a finalist for the 2019 New Zealand Tourism Awards for the Auckland Airport Sustainability Business Excellence Award.

In addition, we are signatory to the Tourism Industry Aotearoa’s Sustainability Commitment, which is striving towards New Zealand becoming the world leader in sustainable tourism by 2025. 

Conservation commitments 

The best tourism operators know that to continue sharing our beautiful country with the world, we need to conserve it. For more than 10 years, Southern Discoveries has been the principal sponsor of the Sinbad Sanctuary Project in Milford Sound. The project is a joint conservation partnership between the Fiordland Conservation Trust, the Department of Conservation and us, with a goal of making Sinbad Gully in Milford Sound a sanctuary for native wildlife. Since the project began, we have seen significant growth in numbers of rare native birds in the gully, including whio and kiwis.  

2. Come prepared to be a more sustainable traveller 

But what can individuals do to tread lightly and reduce their footprint on our pristine environments? There are a few simple things that you can do to make a big difference while visiting New Zealand:

Take the Tiaki promise 

“Tiaki” is a Māori word that means to care for people and place. This initiative puts the responsibility on everyone to individually do their part by;

  • Caring for the land, sea and nature, treading lightly and leaving no trace
  • Travel safely showing care and consideration for all
  • Respect culture, travelling with an open heart and mind

By taking the Tiaki Promise you’ll join thousands of other travellers who are taking it upon themselves to leave no trace and care for our people and place. The Tiaki Promise is the first step to becoming more sustainable. 

Bring a reusable coffee cup 

Coffee cups create huge amounts of waste. In New Zealand, coffee shops will let you use reusable cups such as KeepCups for your coffee, and many will even give you a discount for doing so. This reduces waste and could also save you money!

Bring a reusable water bottle 

In New Zealand, we have safe drinking water from our taps. That means there’s simply no need for single-use plastic water bottles. Bring along your reusable bottle and help us keep New Zealand beautiful by filling it up from the tap!

Bring a reusable shopping bag 

Single-use plastic bags are banned in New Zealand so you’re going to need an alternative. A fold-away reusable shopping bag that fits in your handbag or backpack is perfect for carrying your groceries, souvenirs and other purchases back to your accommodation.

Consider taking the bus instead of your car 

Using public transport or taking a coach to visitor attractions means there are fewer vehicles on the road letting off carbon emissions. Our coaches to Milford Sound can fit up to 50 people on board, which is equivalent to the capacity of more than 12 cars! Also, by travelling with us to Milford Sound from Queenstown in one of our new, low-emission coaches, your carbon footprint will reduce by around 75% compared with if you drove there in an average-sized rental car.

Why every bit counts 

Some people may think that their sustainable behaviour won’t make an impact, but the truth is that every bit helps!  It’s the small changes that everyone in the world can make that will have the biggest difference.

Every time you choose a sustainable tour operator or refuse a plastic bag or bottle, you’re joining millions of people around the world who care about being sustainable. As the saying goes “it’s just one plastic straw – said 7 billion people.” 

New Zealand is a beautiful country, but we need your help to keep it that way! We hope that all visitors to New Zealand take the Tiaki Promise and help us care for our homeland!

For more information about our sustainability commitments or to book a tour with a sustainable tour operator in either Queenstown or Milford Sound, be sure to check out our website

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