A global leader by 2025
New Zealand is green. The obvious reason for this is its unique vegetation. But New Zealand wants to become even greener. It has set itself the goal of becoming the global leader in sustainable tourism by 2025, and is already making good progress towards this. Alternative fuels play as much of a role here as creativity and innovative ideas – something visitors can pick up on before they’ve even arrived here. Air New Zealand, the national airline, completed the world’s first commercial flight using biofuel from the jatropha curcas plant and initiated ‘Project Green’, which has already diverted 890,000kg of inflight waste from landfill. The cups for the eight million coffees the airline serves annually are now made from plant-based materials too – and are fully edible. All of this made us curious to find out more about the other sustainability highlights you can encounter in this most beautiful of countries.
Sustainable dolphin tourism in the Bay of Islands
Swimming with dolphins is something that features on many people’s bucket list. In New Zealand, this experience regrettably poses a threat to the dolphin population. On the recommendation of the New Zealand Conservation Authority, the government announced in July 2019 that only watching dolphins from a boat would now be permitted. Swimming with the bottle-nosed dolphins is no longer allowed. This should help the dolphin population in the unique Bay of Islands, in the northernmost part of New Zealand’s North Island, to slowly recover from a dramatic reduction in numbers it has suffered in recent years. These fascinating mammals can still be observed on scheduled boat trips, while at the same time respecting and protecting their habitat.
Is this the world’s best eco hotel?
We stay in the fascinating Bay of Islands region to visit Donkey Bay Inn, close to the old seaport of Russell. This architectural masterpiece is a hidden paradise. Antonio Pasquale, winemaker and owner of the Donkey Bay Inn, had a vision for a house that would merge with the landscape – and offer a breathtaking view over the Bay of Islands from every angle. More than anything else, however, the Donkey Bay Inn is designed with complete sustainability in mind.
Hidden under a green hill is the largest living roof in the southern hemisphere, a flax plantation growing from 300 tons of earth. It provides pleasant coolness in this sprawling luxury retreat. The property also has its own vineyard with naturally cultivated wines, an olive grove, beehives and an organic kitchen garden. It also provides all of its own water and electricity, making it almost a self-contained luxury ecosystem. No wonder the inn is able to use the coveted title of ‘the world’s best eco hotel’.
The crystal-clear waters of New Zealand’s springs
In the Te Waikoropupu conservation area, on the northern tip of the South Island, we visit the planet’s mightiest and most fascinating springs. They are the source of the clearest water in the world – 14,000 litres per second gush into the Te Waikoropupu Springs Scenic Reserve. Its white sand floor reflects all the colours of the plants to fascinating effect. The temptation to dive into this crystal clear water is huge. However, all forms of contact with the water are prohibited in order to protect the sacred sites of the Maori and the purity of the springs. But the view alone is worth a visit. It’s an unforgettable visual feast.
Sustainable Maori principles
A successful translation of Maori traditions that succeeded in being both poetic and imaginative
When it comes to protecting its nature and culture, New Zealand follows a unique sustainability principle. It’s based on the traditional Maori concepts of manaakitanga (extending love and compassion) and kaitiakitanga (offering guardianship). The Kopupaka Reserve, an exceptional project that translates the Maori traditions in a sustainable way, won the title of World Landscape of the Year 2016 at the World Architecture Festival. It shows how flooding can be contained in an ecological way in the future using traditional ‘woven’ wooden structures and wetlands. The technique, which is as simple as it is ingenious, creates habitats for flora and fauna that can move and change with nature.
This story is part of the 25 Years of Porsche Travel Experience anniversary series. We take you on a virtual world tour around the globe – with a new, fascinating episode each week. Click here to read all stories.