Aotearoa New Zealand’s tourism industry is great at welcoming visitors, teaching them the ropes and guiding them to the best spots.
But it doesn’t stop there.
They’re cooking up hangi, donating school uniforms and passing on their knowledge to those in need. When they’re not teaching people to fly, they’re looking out for our youth’s mental wellbeing.
It’s not just about showing off our backyard but also acting as kaitiaki of the ocean, the land, the stories.
They’re caring about our impact on the environment as much as getting us home on time for Friday fish ‘n chips.
Every day our tourism operators are doing all sorts of incredible things – not just for overseas visitors but for their local communities. Because we love our country as much as you do.
We invite you to join us in celebrating the Aroha of Tourism.
Check out these operator stories
- Sustainable Airways
- Keeping it Clean
- Great Wine Capital of Hawke's Bay
- Otago Trails Marketing Group
- Treble Cone & Cardona ski resorts
- Huka Falls River Cruise, Waikato
- Russell-Orongo Bay Holiday Park
- The Hotel Britomart, Auckland
- Mountain Bike Rotorua
- Kohutapu Lodge, Bay of Plenty
- East by West Ferries, Wellington
- Akaroa Dolphins
- iFLY Queenstown
Chris Sattler is a small tourism operator at the cutting edge of transportation technology. Flying twin engine planes between Auckland and Waiheke or Great Barrier islands, his company Island Aviation has been offsetting its carbon since 2017.
But Chris’ passion goes further than offsetting – he’s pursuing zero emission aircraft.
Last year Chris’ investigations took him to the UK and Europe, where he met a company that makes hydrogen conversion kits for small planes. He also went to the Orkney Islands, where hydrogen is being created from tidal and wind energy for use at its port and airport.
In New Zealand, hydrogen is being investigated by a consortium of airports and airlines including Air NZ. Electricity is another option, and Air NZ plans to put a battery-powered electric cargo plane into service in 2026.
While Chris is keen to switch to hydrogen, he says it won’t work without others coming to the party to build the infrastructure needed.
“It’s no good if we convert our aircraft to hydrogen, but there’s no hydrogen available at airports or refueling procedures.”
However, he notes growing optimism in Europe that it will be possible to fly at least 10-seater planes over short haul distances in the next five years.
If you use a keep cup or sit down for your morning coffee, take a bow. Individually, cafes and restaurants are increasingly looking to sustainable options for coffee cups. But on Aotea Great Barrier Island, they’ve gone one step further. The whole island is on a drive to be free of single-use cups, with many of the island’s hospitality providers and locals getting on board.
On Great Barrier, you sit down and drink it, borrow a mug (donated often from someone down the road) or bring your keep cup. Addressing its waste is particularly important for Aotea because it has to ship away all the waste it can’t compost.
TIA is pleased to have been involved through Tātaki Auckland Unlimited’s sustainability programme, the Taurikura Initiative, which works with island businesses on how to be more sustainable.
Ka pai, Aotea!
Napa, Bordeaux, Porto and ... Hawkes Bay! Did you know that last year Hawke's Bay was officially named a Great Wine Capital of the World, setting it alongside eleven other prestigious wine regions. Joining such select company involved a strict selection process which looked at the Hawkes Bay's winegrowing industry, its history, its wine tourism, educational opportunities, business, and travel. It is expected to bring significant advantages to the region’s $620 million tourism sector.
At Tourism Industry Aotearoa, we celebrate tourism businesses and organisations doing great things. The bid to put Hawkes Bay on the global wine map was led by Hawke’s Bay Tourism, on behalf of a working group including Hawke’s Bay Wine Growers, Hastings District Council, Napier City Council, Hawke’s Bay Airport and EIT/Te Pūkenga.
Cycling is great for sustainability in many ways – it’s zero carbon, encourages people to stay longer and embodies a more contemplative “slow travel” form of tourism. No more so than in Otago, where cycle trails have rocketed in popularity since the Otago Central Rail Trail was opened in 2000.
To lift the experience for visitors and benefit little communities along the way, four regional tourism organisations - Destination Queenstown, Tourism Central Otago, Clutha Development and Enterprise Dunedin – and biking group Queenstown Trails joined forces in 2021 as the Otago Trails Marketing Group. The group’s combined area contains five of the country’s 23 Great Rides plus a string of charming smaller trails.
Ultimately, says Tourism Central Otago’s Anthony Longman, visitors will be able to “fly into Queenstown, jump on a bike and ride to Dunedin”. The last link is the Kawarau Gorge trail between Wanaka and Cromwell, which went under construction late last year.
Otago Trails Marketing Group doesn’t just see its work as promotion; it takes visitor education and assistance seriously. It offers cyclists important practical tips on riding the trails and where to stay and eat, most recently using its new website.
The group also works hard to connect cyclists with local conservation projects along the way, and to fill in surveys that produce valuable data.
By helping people have better experience, the Otago Trails Marketing Group showed a level of collaboration which saw it become a finalist in the New Zealand Tourism Awards 2023.
Otago's Five Great Rides:
- Lake Dunstan Trail
- Otago Central Rail Trail
- Clutha Gold Trail
- Roxburgh Gorge Trail
- Queenstown Trails, 135km of off-road trails around Lake Whakatipu, Arrowtown and Gibbston Valley
- Plus, the new Dunedin loop, Te Aka Otākou
At Treble Cone Ski Area and Cardrona ski resorts, sustainability began with the removal of single-use coffee cups several years ago. Then in 2021, the bins for rubbish to landfill disappeared. “We say we’re like the Department of Conservation. You pack in, you pack out. Whatever you bring with you, you have to take away with you,” says Ewan Mackie, Treble Cone Ski Area Manager and RealNZ Sustainability Lead.
Food at the ski fields’ cafes is now only served out of jars, on washable crockery, or in compostable packaging. Bins are put out for compostable, recyclables and food waste, and because removing waste off the mountain generates emissions, they compost onsite. All of these efforts are not only saving the planet, but good business decisions, Ewan says. To reduce emissions further, free shuttle buses are offered from the base of both ski areas. “Fifty people on a bus is way more efficient than 50 people using private vehicles.”
However, sustainability can hit technological or practical limits and while all efforts must be made, Ewan says it’s conservation where tourism can have an immediate upside. “That’s where the gold is.”
As a result, Treble Cone and Cardrona are planting thousands of native plants and trapping pests in their rohe (areas) in partnership with the Southern Lakes Sanctuary project. They are also involved in a five-year monitoring study of the Kārearea, the New Zealand falcon.
The example tourism businesses set can have an impact far beyond the experiences they offer, Ewan says. “We have 350,000 people come through Cardrona and Treble Cone each year. If every single one of them is influenced in some small way, then that’s the key point.”
Ask tourism businesses what their driving passions are, and the answer might surprise you. While they are naturally focused on providing great experiences, so many are also doing important conservation work. We love the mahi of Dave Kilmister, of Huka Falls River Cruise. As well as giving visitors a close up look at the mighty Waikato, Dave and his small staff have for 22 years acted as guardians of the Aratiatia scenic reserve - weeding it, keeping it tidy and trapping predators. The results of their efforts have been rewarded by visibly more morepork, kereru and whiteheads returning to the river. In his operations, Dave uses clean burning fuel and a hull which minimises his wake. He offsets his carbon emissions and is actively involved in native replanting programmes in the area. The business also has an annual "locals' day" to raise funds for charity. Dave's initiatives are supported by Greening Taupo, DOC and Mercury Energy. He is a great example of the phrase "regenerative tourism" - leaving a place better than it was.
Russell-Orongo Bay Holiday Park takes great care to not only provide a comfortable and enjoyable experience for their human visitors, but also to protect and preserve the local kiwi population.
By watching over and protecting their little piece of ngāhere (forest), the park’s team is ensuring it will be there to enjoy for future generations. And their activities don’t stop at trapping those pesky predators that are endangering our kiwi and other native birds.
They share their knowledge about our nation’s treasured wildlife and encourage campers and local schools to get involved in conservation projects.
Find out how you can get involved in this valuable mahi.
The Hotel Britomart, located in the heart of Auckland, is more than just a place to stay - it's a space where Kiwis can come together to celebrate special occasions and create lasting memories. The award-winning boutique hotel and its classy restaurant, kingi, provide a beautiful setting for us to celebrate everything from weddings and milestone celebrations to family gatherings.
The Hotel Britomart is committed to being a positive force in the community as well as providing a space where locals and visitors alike can come together to create special memories.
Learn more about New Zealand’s only 5 Green Star hotel, where sustainability is embedded into everything they do.
Tak and his team at Mountain Bike Rotorua love giving our visitors a rewarding experience, but they are passionate about introducing the joys of mountain biking to local tamariki.
Their ‘Share the Ride with Whanau’ programme takes families from the community who don’t have the means to buy new bikes and teaches them riding skills and basic bike maintenance. On successful completion of the programme, each child gets a brand-new bike and helmet!
In addition to teaching the kids how to ride, the team teaches the children the importance of respecting nature and how to be responsible trail users.
Community comes first for the team at Kohutapu Lodge in Murupara. Welcoming manuhiri to the region means Nadine and Karl can provide kai and other support to locals who could do with a helping hand – as well as sharing their beautiful place and culture with visitors.
They set out to provide positive change and offer opportunities for the local community, and that vision is at the heart of everything they do. Tourism has helped provide winter school uniforms for local rangitahi and supported educational trips, as well as much-needed jobs.
Kohutapu Lodge has invested more than $500,000 back into their local community thanks to tourism! Discover more about the outstanding difference they are making in their town.
East by West Ferries’ new electric ferry not only reduces its carbon footprint and helps protect the environment but also provides a more comfortable and quieter ride for its passengers. It’s the first fully electric, high speed passenger ferry in the southern hemisphere!
Ika Rere offers frequent and reliable trips between Wellington and the picturesque suburb of Eastbourne. Visitors to our capital city love the opportunity to cruise across the harbour. They can only envy the locals who get to enjoy this journey every day as they head to work and school.
Darcy and the East by West Ferries crew are proud to be doing their bit to protect the environment – as well as getting us home on time for Friday fish ‘n chips.
Marie and the team at Akaroa Dolphins – including the beloved company dogs who are expert dolphin spotters – are committed to protecting the delicate ecosystem of the ocean and the unique creatures that call it home.
Sharing their special place with visitors enables this family-owned and operated business to act as kaitiaki, protecting the ocean for future generations. That’s why they have strict guidelines in place to ensure that they don’t disturb the natural behaviour of the dolphins and other marine life. And a percentage of each passenger's fare goes to the Department of Conservation, to be spent on research and education on marine wildlife.
But that’s not all they do for conservation and their community. Find out more about the incredible work that Akaroa Dolphins do every day.
For Lottie and the team at iFLY Indoor Skydiving Queenstown, it’s not just about teaching people how to fly.
In 2021 iFLY launched the Whakamana Youth Programme to help local primary-aged tamariki to manage the pressures of mental health before their transition to high school.
200 vulnerable children take part in the free programme each year, learning how to understand and manage their emotions, build self-esteem, develop healthy relationships, and care for their wellbeing. The final mental and physical challenge is to conquer iFLY itself!
Spread the Aroha of Tourism
TIA members, get involved. Tell your own stories of the incredible things you are doing – to support your local community, to protect our precious native wildlife, or to care for our environment.
Thanks to our campaign supporters
‘Sharing the Aroha of Tourism’ has been created with support from leading industry organisations.
Our thanks go to investment partners Auckland Airport, Christchurch Airport, Wellington Airport, Queenstown Airport and Holiday Parks New Zealand.