Environmental stewardship

New Zealand’s visitor experience depends on our beautiful landscapes and natural environment; therefore, it is essential that we protect and restore our environment for current and future generations to enjoy.

Sustainability and environmental stewardship is a key focus of DM, given the connection between visitors, the natural environment and social licence within our communities. This requires us to understand and actively manage any potential risks to our natural and cultural heritage across our whole destination, as well as in specific locations with high visitor demand.

Climate change is affecting some locations, imposing the need for careful consideration and planning to allow for adaptation over time. As travellers become more environmentally, socially and culturally conscious, they, too, are seeking experiences that enable them to act responsibly and minimise their impact.

“Our natural environment is the backbone of New Zealand-Aotearoa’s economy, culture and wellbeing. To achieve sustainable tourism growth, we must protect the environment and manage activity within its limits so New Zealand-Aotearoa will be in great shape for the next generation.”

Steve Taylor, Director Heritage and Visitors, Department of Conservation


  • Is there a clear understanding of the potential risks and impacts of visitors on our environment (localised or widespread) across our destination, including in high-demand visitor locations?
  • Is the right amount of infrastructure in place to manage the visitor experience at the location/destination sustainably?
  • Do we understand the potential growth forecasts for those locations (and/or the destination as a whole) and their impact on the infrastructure needs for the future?
  • Do the national/regional policies and planning support having a sustainable approach?
  • Do our tourism enterprises have a commitment to environmental sustainability (e.g. TIA Sustainability Commitment, Enviro Mark)?
  • What are the opportunities to support low- carbon-emissions visitor experiences?
  • What are the opportunities to support achieving low waste levels and/or better waste management, including recycling?
  • Are we recognising and supporting the cultural well-being of our people and place, as well as our Māori/iwi/hapū partner aspirations?
  • Is there a commitment to protecting and enhancing the social licence to operate within communities?
  • Is there a focus on educating visitors to behave responsibly? (See the Tiaki Promise(external link))
  • Are we telling the story of our actions to protect the environment, to generate further momentum, improve visitor behaviour and support our social licence)?
Child and parent riding on a track in the New Zealand bush

Destination Rotorua - Whakarewarewa Forest, Rotorua

“Our marine product is the foundation of our business, if we do not look after our environment, our business will be gone in no time. Our business has sustainability at its core, we all are in it for the long haul, and thus sustainability becomes the only smart platform to use.”

Jeroen Jongejans, Owner and Director, Dive! Tutukaka