the kaka - unique to New Zealand wildlife. A large parrot belonging to the nestorinae family. Ecotours New Zealand nature and wildlife tours with expert guides

Ecotours New Zealand

What is Ecotourism?

"Ecotourism" covers a wide range of interests, activities, products, age-groups and services - all based on the concept of the sustainable use of  natural resources.
Ecotours New Zealand has defined Ecotourism as:

"The observation of living organisms within their natural environment where the operation does not degrade and may enhance the environment so that it can continue to be enjoyed by future generations. There is an educational element to the operation. The participants will learn from expert guides and hopefully gain an increased respect and love for the environment."

We recommend...

1. Bush and Beyond Guided Walks

2. Banks Peninsula Track

3. Catlins Wildlife Trackers

4. Bush & Beach 2004 Limited

5. Otorohanga Kiwi House & Native Bird Park

6. Nature Guides Otago

7. Nature Quest New Zealand Ltd

8. Brian Parkinson Nature Tours

Tourism working with Conservation

The following article is contributed by Maryann Ewers and Bill Rooke of Bush & Beyond Guided Treks. They are based at the top of the South Island, and operate guided hikes in New Zealand's second largest and most diverse park - Kahurangi

Tourism is now a major foreign revenue earner for New Zealand. It is one of the fastest growing industries world-wide. The projected forecast for NZ is huge. This may be good for the economy, but has a down side as well. NZ has an extremely fragile natural environment. A great deal of the emphasis placed on attracting tourists to NZ is on adventure activities such as rafting, kayaking, bunji jumping, skiing and scenery. None of the things are unique to NZ - what is unique is our endemic flora and fauna, and sadly it isn't in good shape. This uniqueness has been expressed perfectly by eminent American biologist Jared Diamond "New Zealand is the closest we can come to studying evolution on another planet." NZ was the last major landmass on earth to feel the brunt of human occupation. Man first arrived here only 800 to 1000 years ago (in contrast Australia had its first immigrants 60,000 years ago).

In this short period we have lost almost of our bush cover. Only 5% of our lowland forests and wetlands are intact. Most of our conservation estate is on land that would be deemed useless for anything else. We are a world leader in endangered species. It could be argued that nowhere on earth have so few people caused so much environmental destruction in such a short time, as here in NZ. Part of the reason that after 80 million years of isolation, NZ had evolved into one of the most remarkable and fragile environments on earth. A land of amazing birds and a unique endemic flora. The destruction caused by man in the past shouldn't be harped on if we are to move on, but we shouldn't be afraid to tell the true story. At the turn of the 21st century, many New Zealanders are still unaware of the true state of our natural environment, and the effort being made to save what's left, falls short of what is necessary.

We endeavour to leave our clients with a greater understanding of the need to protect what we have left of our wilderness and to encourage people to support conservation projects. Bush & Beyond was instrumental in forming the 'Friends of Flora' conservation group now trapping stoats in the Mount Arthur area. Many of Bush & Beyond clients have contributed financially to the project. Education is the key to exposing the myths associated with New Zealand's so called 'Clean Green' image. Bush & Beyond has a philosophy of not being afraid to speak the truth, but at the same time, showing people what a very special place Kahurangi National Park is.

Bush & Beyond Guided Treks
35 School Rd RD3
New Zealand
Ph/Fax: +64 3 528 9054

[Top of Page]

Who are the New Zealand Ecotour Operators?

Ecotourism operations are typically small and run by sole owner operators. Employees are often family members and are employed only on a part time or seasonal basis.

Most ecotourism businesses are based on relatively undisturbed natural resources, such as national parks or coastal areas.

New Zealand ecotourism operators are committed to passing on their depth of knowledge to tourists so that tourists can gain an in-depth understanding and appreciation of the nature of New Zealand.

[Top of Page]

Who is interested in ecotourism?

OurPoor Knights giant weta - yeeech! research tells us that ecotourism appeals to discerning visitors who want a first-hand experience of the natural environment and local communities. It caters for travellers with special interests who prefer to be part of the real environment of a place and want to learn more about the authentic natural, cultural and historical aspects of the locality they are visiting.

They may be free independent travellers, often from Germany, or over 50s who have time to pursue their own interests now that the children are off their hands.

These visitors want to forget the tinted windscreens, air-conditioning and diesel-belching buses. They want to get their hands dirty. They want to get out there amongst it. Of course they want to have fun in the process.

[Top of Page]

There is a limit...

There are physical and social limits to what a particular environment can endure year after year from use before its suitability for that use is degraded.

"Given eco-tourism's dependence on the country's natural-resource base and on a co-operative host community, its need for an infrastructure and for regional, national and international marketing, an integrated management approach is required. Only this will ensure eco-tourism's long-term viability"

(Julie A Warren - 'Developing Ecotourism in New Zealand' 1994)

[Top of Page]

What  can you do in New Zealand?

This is just a small selection of New Zealand ecotourism opportunities.
  • whale watching in Kaikoura
  • bush walking in the Waitakere ranges, Auckland
  • sea-kayaking at Abel Tasman National Park
  • visiting the albatross colony and penguins at Taiaroa Head on Otago Peninsula
  • looking a dolphin in the eye before playing swimming tag at Bay of Islands
  • walking on a totally deserted beach in the height of summer
  • doing the Waipoua Forest walk in Northland
  • seal-watching at Kaikoura
  • diving to the Rainbow Warrior wreck in Matauri Bay
  • exploring coastal wildlife and rain forest of the Catlins area
  • observing penguins at Nugget Point
  • enjoying a "Natural experience" in Fiordland National Park
  • joining an ecological tour with a scientific or educational component in Te Anau/Fiordland
  • watching rare and endangered birds in Auckland
  • observing marine mammals (seals & dolphins) in Westland

[Top of Page]