Easy being green

We want you to experience some of the best tours without feeling guilty, so we’ve picked out the best eco-friendly adventures in NZ

If climate scientists, elected members of the Greens party and anyone who ever owned a hacky sack during University are to be believed, we humans are all bastards! Our insatiable lust for energy, food and fuel is cooking the planet, destroying the ozone and extinguishing all manner of animal species left, right and centre. These are indisputable facts, but some people refuse to believe them. These nay-sayers are the sorts of people who would rather listen to that Keeping these guys happy and healthy googley-eyed, beak nosed, cretinous twat Lord Monckton crap on about “natural heating cycles” then admit that they are a part of the problem, not the solution. 

These people are not many, but they walk among us. Their folly might not be obvious to them now, but one day it will be. But hopefully not to our costs. But just as surely as our every day habits are negatively affecting the environment, so too is the way in which we holiday and travel. That’s where the eco-adventure tour has started to come in. 

We’ve made a selection eco-friendly adventures that fully deliver on all the things you’d expect of a holiday without damaging the beautiful, and at times, fragile ecosystems that they rely on for their businesses. Ecosystems that you and I so often take advantage of. Whether you’re looking for thrills and adventure or rest and relaxation we have a little bit of everything, and you can rest easy – they’re all green!

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  • WAIMANGU VOLCANIC VALLEY

    Wandering through a valley of hot springs and bubbling mud baths is something reminiscent of ‘middle earth’, and that’s what you will find at this spectacular geothermal destination. Only 20 minutes south of New Zealand’s thermal centre, Rotorua, visitors can walk through one of the world’s youngest eco-systems to marvel craters, hot lakes, unusual thermal plants and wildlife. Explore the magnificent valley with a self-guided walk or join one of the guided eco tours. Waimangu Volcanic Valley was created as a direct result of the Tarawera volcanic eruption in 1886, and is the only geo-thermal system in the world that can be pinpointed to an exact time and event. This remarkable ‘must-see’ attraction has won multiple eco-tourism awards for conservation and sustainability. AR Cost: $34.50. Where: 20 mins south of Rotorua

  • ELM WILDLIFE TOURS

    oin the enthusiastic and expert guides on the wildlife experience of a lifetime. This multi award winning tour offers absolutely unrivalled sustainable nature and wildlife experiences, visiting some of the most spectacular wildlife spots in New Zealand. The family owned and operated business, ranked #1 on Trip Advisor, pride themself on their conversation and sustainable nature and wildlife experiences. Visitors can choose from several tours of Otago Peninsula and the southeast Coast, with the promise of close encounters with nature in areas inaccessible to others. Tours are timed to coincide with the daily peak of animal activity; blue penguins, New Zealand fur seals, sea lions and rare yellow-eyed penguins are just a few. Elm Wildlife Tours are specifically planned to combine tourism and conservation without creating negative environmental impact. AR Cost: $99. Where: Dunedin

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  • GREEN GLOW ECO-ADVENTURES

    A kilometre long cave stretch with seven entrances awaits you on the west side of Waitomo caves. There is something for people of all experience levels at Green Glow, including caving, abseiling, rock climbing and photography. Create your own unique tour consisting of your guide and whoever you bring with you! The maximum size is six people, and you can set your own pace. One of the many highlights of exploring the Waitomo caves is getting to stop and check out the glowworms when you turn out your light! This is a “dry” adventure, meaning you wear comfortable clothes and generally stay out of the water, as opposed to Black Water Rafting when you wear a wetsuit and sit in a tube up to your waist in cold water! RM Cost: from $190. Where: Waitomo

  • ROTURUA CANOPY TOURS

    You will give Tarzan a run for his money zipping through this magical, untouched New Zealand forest. Roturua Canopy Tours is the only native forest zip-line canopy tour in New Zealand. The guided three-hour adventure will see you travelling a 1.2 kilometre network of zip-lines, swing-bridges and treetop platforms, 40 metres above the forest floor. The thrill of flying through breathtaking, peaceful, forested valleys, is unlike any other. The magnificent forest is also home to giant ancient trees and unique bird species. Roturua Canopy Tours is built on a reserve owned by the New Zealand Department of Conservation. Their inspirational conservation project aims to return the forest to a complete prehuman state for all New Zealanders and international visitors to enjoy. Since they started their conservation project and rat trapping in August 2012, a rare bird, the North Island Robin, has returned and visitors to the tour have been able to hear it. AR Cost: $129. Where: Rotorua

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  • ECO-RAFTING

    For the ultimate extreme adventure, which won’t have a negative impact on the environment, you can’t go past ecorafting. These white water rafting adventure specialists offer unique experiences into the wilderness of New Zealand. The passionate team have chosen the West Coast for its wild beauty and number and quality of rivers that are available. Visitors can try everything from peaceful, gentle scenic floats, to the most full-on class-five white water rafting. There are full and half day tours available, all of which cover comprehensive water and rafting safety training. Eco-rafting follow strict environmental guidelines and work closely with the Department of Conversation to ensure the rivers are kept in pristine condition. They are proud to say, “we can drink the water from every river that we raft and we want it to stay that way”. AR Cost: $90. Where: West Coast NZ

  • WILSON’S ABEL TASMAN- SEA KAYAKING

    Want to explore the beauty of a protected marine reserve? Wilson’s Abel Tasman Sea Kayaking tours can help. These guys offer a range of packages, from three hours to five days. You have the freedom to create custom itineraries, add walking tours and overnight stays by the water. The Wilson family are one of few to hold a Tonga Island Marine Mammal Watching Permit, so get ready to see some local animals! The team at Wilson’s are also so committed to preservation of the environment that they were the first to be awarded the Qualmark Enviro Gold. To receive this they had to ensure the company demonstrated effectiveness in energy efficiency, waste management and water conservation, also the inclusion of social and environmental impacts on local communities. RM Cost: from $90. Where: Abel Tasman National Park

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  • NOMAD SAFARIS

    With 20 years experience, Nomad Safaris know exactly how to look after you. There are endless small group, tailored tour options to choose from. These include the exploration of historic gold mining areas and even a visit to filming locations from The Lord of the Rings movies! Take an invigorating 4WD adventure to Skippers Canyon, or perhaps a quad bike trail to Queenstown Hill, where you will get to experience 360 degree views. There are also options that include jet boat riding, and wilderness guided walks. For those of you who want even more of a personalised memory, there are private bookings available too. The team are Green Globe certified and do their bit by using natural cleaning materials and taking initiative to ensure that only clean water and natural products are put down the drains through waste water diversion. RM Cost: varies depending on tour. Where: 20 mins south of Rotorua

  • FRANZ JOSEF GLACIER GUIDES

    The Franz Josef Glacier Guides are caring, informative and very committed to keeping the region you explore preserved. Their constant recycling of old equipment, visitor’s rubbish, compost and use of biodegradable cleaning products have gotten them a Silver Enviro Award Rating through Qualmark NZ. Ever seen Blue Ice? A major highlight of these glacier trips is the chance to witness this rarity. Try an Ice Explorer tour, which after a small heli-hop, takes you through a maze of ice leading to the incredible Hot Glacier Pools. There are also options for a glacier heli-hike, valley walk or the adrenalin filled heli-ice climb! To top it off, they throw in a goody bag and DVD on some tours, so you can cherish the memories for years to come. Full tuition and safety equipment is provided, so you can relax as you take in this natural wonder. RM Cost: $69 Where: Franz Josef, 5 hours from Queenstown 

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  • HIKING NEW ZEALAND ECO TOURS

    Hiking New Zealand are a small team of active hikers and bikers offering adventures up to 27 days long! The best part? They operate throughout the whole of New Zealand. From river canoes to skiing, prepare to see volcanoes, rivers, rainforests, canyons and a huge variety of flora and fauna. These eco-tours are approved by the Department of Conservation, proving they have passed all necessary environmental and safety standards that are set to keep the area preserved. The concession fees also go towards the management of natural and historic resources. Hiking NZ also run a great program called ‘Trees For Trampers’ where they will plant a tree on your behalf so everyone can do their bit for the environment, regardless of how busy you are! This encourages bird life and new plants to grow so future generations can see what you do. RM Cost: Prices vary. Where: All around NZ