Strategic Projects

Tourism & Conservation

A partnership agreement between TIA and the Department of Conservation supports sustainable tourism and enhances conservation. DOC manages a third of New Zealand’s total land area and hundreds of tourism operators rely on access to public conservation areas. Our natural landscapes are the number one reason why international visitors come to New Zealand.

Tourism working with conservation

New Zealand’s public conservation estate is vital to our tourism offering. International visitors and domestic travellers are eager to enjoy New Zealand's spectacular landscapes and natural environment.

The Department of Conservation manages a third of New Zealand’s total land area and is a highly valued participant in the tourism industry. Hundreds of tourism operators rely on access to public conservation land in order to operate their businesses. DOC also provides tourism experiences like the Great Walks and infrastructure used by visitors such as huts and tracks.

Tourism businesses working on public conservation land have commitments in their concession agreements to protect the environment, and many of them go above and beyond these to grow conservation. The annual Conservation Award, sponsored by the Department of Conservation as part of the New Zealand Tourism Awards, recognises an environmentally sustainable tourism business that embrace kaitiakitanga.  

As the tourism industry pursues its New Zealand Tourism Sustainability Commitment and its Tourism 2025 goal of increasing annual total tourism revenue to $41 billion, we want to work closely with DOC to manage growth ensure conservation is strengthened and the visitor experience is enhanced.


The DOC/TIA relationship

In July 2015, TIA and DOC signed a formal partnership agreement benefiting both tourism and conservation. 

A key action within the partnership agreement is Project Groundswell which aims for nationally consistent and effective DOC commercial processes and decision making, and support for business practices that exemplify kaitiakitanga (guardianship).

"It's great for DOC to be working together with TIA and concessionaires in a partnership that is positive, enduring and I firmly believe will provide a win/win for tourism and conservation," Lou Sanson, Director General, DOC  

TIA DOC toolkit

TIA's DOC toolkit has links to useful resources and information, including the concessionaire application process and key DOC contacts, Park Management Plans, safety alerts and weather updates, how to get involved and support conservation, including free staff training.


TIA advocacy

In addition to Project Groundswell, TIA is engaging with DOC on a wide range of other initiatives.  We strongly advocate for a more coordinated approach from DOC to tourism. We are pleased that DOC has established a dedicated tourism team within their Policy & Visitors Group, and that a priority for the team is to implement a DOC visitor strategy.

TIA has four advocacy priorities for our work with DOC

1.  A DOC visitor strategy that articulates and leads the DOC approach to the tourism industry

TIA wants to engage closely with DOC’s Recreation, Tourism & Heritage  team and its Tourism Policy team as they develop the DOC visitor strategy.

We want the strategy to:

  • articulate the tourism/conservation priorities
  • outline how DOC will approach visitor interaction on public conservation land at a nationwide level to ensure the visitor experience is maximised and the environment is protected
  • work within the New Zealand Tourism Sustainability Commitment and the Tourism 2025 framework
  • give life to the principles that underpin the DOC/TIA partnership

2.  Improved access and opportunities to public conservation land for tourism operators

TIA supports a review of the Conservation Act (1987) and National Parks Act (1980). While the intent of the two Acts remains sound, the detail no longer enables the best management of our public conservation land.

DOC can also play a strong role in achieving greater regional dispersal of visitors. There are opportunities in regional New Zealand to improve or create new attractions and activities on public conservation land; working well with tourism operators will help realise these opportunities. 

We submit on relevant park plan reviews and are working on solving current access issues such as snow and glacier landings.  


3.  Consistency and transparency in concession application processes and costs

Tourism operators want consistent information on concession applications, and clear requirements and reasonable processes for engagement with DOC and iwi. Concession costs and cost review systems need to be transparent, predictable and sustainable.

4.  A review of DOC funding models

This requires urgent attention. A robust review of both public and non-government funding models is needed to ensure DOC remains a significant contributor and enabler of the visitor experience without compromising its core role of growing conservation. DOC is currently reviewing their non-government funding models.