How to Travel More Sustainably in New Zealand: Tips for an Eco-Friendly Trip
New Zealand is home to some of the most stunning natural landscapes in the world. If you’re not already environmentally conscious, then you certainly will be after you’ve seen some of the amazing landscapes and wildlife that are well worth protecting. New Zealand certainly has a way of awakening the inner eco-warrior. Get a headstart on treating New Zealand and the planet with a little more care by following our tips for travelling more sustainably in New Zealand.
Sustainable Destination and Planning Tips
1. Travel in the Low Season to Prevent Overtourism
The low season offers a sustainable, cheaper and uncrowded travel experience in New Zealand. Book your trip in June, July and August to save money and help preserve New Zealand. Check out more benefits of travelling in the low season in our 13 Reasons to Travel in the Shoulder and Off-Season in New Zealand.
2. Spend Less Time or Avoid Overly Touristic Spots
Many tourist hotspots in New Zealand are only served by small neighbouring towns or settlements. Avoid spending too long in those small towns to reduce the strain on their infrastructure. Check out some lesser-visited yet awesome destinations in the 10 Most Secret Places in New Zealand.
3. Stay Longer to Make the Most of Your Carbon Footprint
It is no secret that your flight to New Zealand will have the largest carbon impact on your trip. Consider extending your stay in New Zealand (or waiting until you can) to make up for the heavy environmental cost of your flight. Plan a longer trip with the help of our New Zealand in 3 Weeks: Road Trip Itinerary and New Zealand in a Month: Road Trip Itinerary. Travellers aged 18 to 30 can even enjoy a year here on a working holiday visa.
Low-Waste Packing Tips
4. Pack Reusable Items
Resuseables, such as metal straws, water bottles and tote bags, can help save dozens of plastic from going into landfills. By packing your own (and making sure you use them), you’ll help reduce the need for single-use items in your trip and keep your waste to a minimum.
5. Use Shampoo Bars Instead of Your Hotel’s Shampoo Bottles
Shampoo bars are both a great way to save money on haircare and reduce the amount of plastic used. Plus, this will also help you avoid the use of mini-toiletries in your accommodations that are extremely plastic-inefficient.
6. Take Your Rubbish with You
When hiking in New Zealand, avoid littering by packing a small bag to take your rubbish with you. For the rest of your trip, know that aerosol sprays and batteries, for example, are not properly recycled in New Zealand, so take them back home where you are more likely to recycle them properly.
7. Pass On or Return Brochures, Guides and Maps
Travel pamphlets and brochures are everywhere in New Zealand and many of them are super useful. On departure, what about leaving them behind in your accommodation’s lobby, for example, so they are used a second time?
Sustainable Transportation Tips
8. Fly Less; Use Bus, Car or Train
Once in New Zealand, consider avoiding flights so you can make the most of the scenery and reduce your carbon footprint. Plus, New Zealand is a country made for road trips with thousands of hidden gems to discover by car, or better, by bus! Check out our full guides on How to Travel Around New Zealand in an Electric Car and How to Travel by Bus in New Zealand.
9. Offset the Carbon Cost of Your Flight
Pretty much every airline offers options to offset the carbon footprint of your flight. It’s only a few dollars but can do miracles! If you are after a more comprehensive carbon offsetting solution, however, look into myclimate.org or flygrn.com that offer great options.
10. Use Shuttles or Buses Instead of Taxis
Not only will using shuttles or buses save you money, but it will reduce the amount of gas used per passenger. Most airport shuttles offer quick door-to-door services while most airport buses will get you to the city centre. Learn more about your airport transfer options in the Cheapest Airport Transfer Options for Auckland Airport.
11. Non-Stop Flights are More Eco-Friendly
It is no secret that flying direct can save you a lot of time. But did you know that it also results in a lower carbon footprint? Making your total flight time shorter reduces the carbon footprint of your trip and we’re all better for it. Check out where you can take direct flights to New Zealand from in A Beginner’s Guide to Getting to New Zealand.
Eco-Friendly Tips for Staying in New Zealand Accommodations
12. Pick Eco-Accommodations
Many New Zealand accommodations make a significant effort to offer their clientele a more sustainable stay. By picking accommodations that positively impact their surroundings, you’ll turn your trip into something good for you and the planet.
13. Take Showers Instead of a Baths
New Zealand’s resources are stretched thin especially during the busy (and drier) summer season. By switching from bath to shower, you’ll use up to two-thirds less water and reduce the strain on our limited resources.
14. Hang-Dry Your Towel to Save on Hotel Laundries
Hotel laundries are notoriously heavy on chemical detergent and water usage, so consider keeping your towel for a couple of days. All you’ve got to do is to hang your towel to dry instead of leaving it on the floor; the housekeeping staff will get the message.
15. Turn Off the Light, TV and A/C in Your Hotel Room
Hotel rooms can be heated or cooled down in a matter of minutes so there’s no need to let the air-con work all day. Before heading out, do a quick check around your room and turn off all the appliances to help decrease the power consumption of your stay.
16. Close Your Windows When Using the A/C in Your Hotel
Air-conditioning machines have to work extra hard when set in larger spaces… And there is no larger space than the New Zealand outdoors! Make sure to keep your doors and windows closed when cranking up the A/C in your hotel room. It will significantly reduce your power usage.
17. Use Your Room’s “Do Not Disturb” Sign
Avoid unnecessary cleaning and chemicals by placing the “Do Not Disturb” sign on your room’s door. This way, it will not be cleaned daily. Some hotels even offer rewards for guests doing this, such as breakfast discounts, for example.
18. Bring Your Own Soap and Travel Soapbox
Instead of using mini-toiletries in hotels that are extremely plastic-inefficient, use your own soap (and reusable soapbox for easy travel)! Not only will it reduce waste, but it means that you can stick to your loved and trusted brand and avoid any nasty surprises.
19. If Using Hotel Amenities, Take Any Leftovers with You
If you choose to use the mini-toiletries included in your hotel room, take them with you when you leave. No matter how much of it you have used, it will be discarded by the housekeeping staff and that’d be a shame.
20. Try Backpacker Hostels
It is no secret that having more people in one room creates less of an environmental impact, so what about giving a shot to hostels? You can even book a full room for your whole party and have a holiday style stay. Plus, you’ll be able to use the communal facilities to cook an epic meal. Find out more about hostels in A Beginner’s Guide to Backpacker Hostels.
21. Use the Free Food Shelf in Your Accommodation
If you are choosing to stay in hostels, holiday parks or holiday homes when travelling, you can help reduce waste and get a free meal at the same time. Leave your leftover ingredients behind and help yourself to half-full packs of pasta, rice or bread in exchange. Good for your wallet; good for the planet!
Ecotourism Activities in New Zealand
22. Choose Eco-Tours
Many New Zealand operators make a significant effort to offer travellers a more sustainable experience. By picking tour operators that positively impact their surroundings, you’ll turn your trip into something good for you and the planet.
23. Avoid Exploitative Animal Experiences
If you too believe that wildlife should not be for sale, choose one of New Zealand’s many ethical wildlife experiences rather than a zoo. New Zealand has a fantastic array of wildlife that can be seen from a respectful distance in their natural habitat. Check out some recommendations in 10 Best Wildlife Activities in New Zealand.
24. Think About the Impact of Your Souvenirs
Many souvenirs found in New Zealand are not local and have been shipped from all over the world to be packed and transported back into your country. Pick locally made souvenirs and sustainable gifts rather than, well, plastic tatt.
25. Take in the Scenery
Going on a hike and relaxing by the beach are not just some of the most memorable experiences in New Zealand, but they are also some of the most sustainable. The scenery in New Zealand is, arguably, the country’s biggest selling point so why not enjoy it without the fluff of, say, a helicopter tour?
26. Explore a Destination by Bike
How about taking in the stunning New Zealand scenery by cycling for a day? It will help you stay fit, enjoy the pure New Zealand air, and lower your carbon footprint. It’s a simple yet memorable way to sightsee that will make your trip even greener. Get inspired by the 10 Best Bike Trails on the North Island and 10 Best Bike Trails on the South Island.
27. If You See Some Litter, Pick It Up
Not all travellers and locals are mindful and some even carelessly litter along the remotest tracks of New Zealand’s pristine national parks. If you see some litter, pick it up and dispose of it properly. This will help keep New Zealand green and potentially save some curious wildlife from choking. For more ways to travel more sustainably while in the New Zealand wilderness, check out the 10 Ways to Protect New Zealand’s Forests.
28. Stick to the Marked Trails and Paths
When exploring New Zealand’s national parks, it is important to stick to the trails to protect rare and fragile ecosystems that thrive off the path. For example, some large tree species have shallow root systems that can easily be damaged. A simple step in the wrong spot can take years to repair.
Sustainability Tips in New Zealand for Food and Eating Out
29. Do Not Be Afraid to Say “No” to Plastic in Cafes
Many cafes and eateries in New Zealand still use plastic straws and utensils. Don’t be afraid to say no to them and use your own reusable alternative (or, you know, simply drink from the cup). Our team does this regularly and we never receive as much as a bad look.
30. Eat Local
When travelling, there’s no need to have the same imported treats from home. Try something local! Fresh locally sourced ingredients are better for the planet. Plus, you’ll hardly regret trying some of the local delicacies. We guarantee it! Check out some local eats in the 25 Foods You Have to Try in New Zealand.
31. Try New Zealand’s Vegetarian or Vegan Food
Travelling is a great opportunity to try new things. You may have heard that plant-based food is easier on the planet, so why not give a shot at a vegetarian meal or two during your trip? You may discover something new and delicious. Plus, it will help reduce your impact in a multitude of ways.
More About Ecotourism and Travelling Sustainably in New Zealand
That’s it for our official list of tips on ways to travel more sustainably in New Zealand but is by no means the end of our eco-advice! Check out these other guides for the eco-conscious traveller:
- Be Green When Travelling in New Zealand
- 7 Ways to Protect New Zealand’s Lakes and Rivers
- 10 Ways to Protect the Ocean When Travelling
- 10 Ways to Protect New Zealand’s Forests
- Voluntourism in New Zealand
And don’t forget our general NZ tips in the 31 Tips for Travelling in New Zealand and The Best Travel Guide to New Zealand.