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Updated: Dec 12, 2018

The best way to protect and preserve New Zealand is to

travel with a tour guide who treads lightly.

Queenstown, New Zealand, 21 November 2018 - Recently, New Zealand asked that visitors pledge to protect, preserve and respect the land they’re traveling through, in an effort to raise awareness for conservation and tourism etiquette before the start of its busiest season. The pledge, deemed the “Tiaki Promise,” comes from the Māori principle that everyone who lives and travels in New Zealand is responsible for caring for both people and place. New Zealand Walking Tours, leaders of sustainable adventures into the great Kiwi countryside, take the Tiaki Promise seriously, and have shared some tips on how travelers to New Zealand can tread lightly once they’ve touched down.

1) Be worried about your waste

With 13 national parks boasting over 30,000 square kilometers of native forest, waterways and alpine mountain ranges, it’s no wonder travelers flock to New Zealand for its fresh air and forest bathing. It takes work to keep such a popular place pristine, and it helps to have some experts on your side. New Zealand Walking Tours provides reusable water canisters to its guests upon arrival, to limit the use of plastic bottles. They employ biodegradable waste bags in their vehicle fleet, work with hoteliers who practice composting, and while swimming can be a great way to cool off after a long hike, their tours are careful to keep soaps and detergents out of the lakes and rivers.

Take a low-waste walk with the Timeless North tour.

2) Let someone else take the wheel

With its narrow coastal roadways, varying weather conditions and left-hand traffic system, driving in New Zealand, although a popular way to see the island, is not necessarily the most enjoyable. Traveling in a shared vehicle not only lowers your carbon footprint, but having someone to drive you around cross-country also means getting to witness the wonders of New Zealand without ever having to consult a map. Having a driver can also be handy in the face of jet lag, the country’s ever-changing weather conditions - and naturally, visiting its many vineyards.

Take in the scenery with the Pristine New Zealand tour.

3) Travel with guides who value conservation

Residents and visitors alike all enjoy a special connection to New Zealand’s wilderness, home to an estimated 80,000 endemic species, including penguins, dolphins and fur seals. That also means there’s lots to protect - and for those unfamiliar with the country, it can be helpful to have a guide on hand who knows the land and the creatures who live there. The kea, the world’s only alpine parrot and unique to New Zealand’s mountain ranges, is protected by the Kea Conservation Trust, a conservation and advocacy initiative supported by New Zealand Walking Tours’ parent company, Active Adventures. Guests of New Zealand Walking Tours can practice some citizen science by using the Kea Database App to report sightings, and keep their eyes peeled for Tuhura, a special kea named by team.

Look for Tuhura on the Beautiful South tour.

4) Travel with people who’ve got your back

It’s easy to understand why New Zealand’s otherworldly terrain inspires instant adventure among travelers, but while it may look like an intrepid outdoor playground, the risks that come with going into the wild can be very real. Referring to a New Zealand-specific packing list before you go will ensure you’re ready for all types of weather, and researching the do’s and dont’s of the country’s many parks and mountains is a must for any would-be hikers. Hiring a local guide who knows the land is another way to be prepared for your Aotearoa adventure, as professional guides will be the first to know which routes are most accessible (and least likely to be crowded) at the start of every day. What’s more, a good guide always has a plan, will tell you everything you need to know, and operates under a “Safety Management Plan,” (accredited by OutdoorsMark) that’s designed to keep travelers happy, healthy, and out of trouble.

Travel worry-free on the Elegant South tour.

5) Travel with an open heart, and a thoughtful mind

New Zealand is renowned for its friendly people and rich, multicultural heritage, and a key part of the Tiaki Promise (“Tiaki” means “to guard” in the Māori language) acknowledges the traveler’s role in helping to protect and preserve both. When making your way through the country’s different regions and cultural sites, taking time to understand their customs and histories - as well as patronizing their small businesses - is the best way to bolster the community. Having the guidance of a Kiwi can give you valuable insight on the people and places you’ll come across on your journey, and ensure the money you spend on your trip goes toward locally-owned restaurants, hotels and attractions.

Acquaint yourself with a new culture on the Timeless North tour.

Although New Zealand is an incredible place to visit, it’s also someone’s home, and being a good guest means taking care to leave a place just as you found it. Before traveling to the Land of the Long White Cloud, look into hiring a local guide to help you prepare, show you the ropes, and ensure that your trip is a positive experience for everyone involved.

To find out more about incredible walking itineraries throughout New Zealand, visit their website.

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