He Āhurutanga Taiao — Draft Environment Action Plan (summary)

The Draft Environment Action Plan was part of the second phase of the Tourism Industry Transformation Plan (ITP).

This is the web version of the summary of the Draft Tourism Environment Action Plan. You can download the PDF version of the summary and full Draft Tourism Environment Action Plan at:

The ITP aimed to transform tourism in Aotearoa New Zealand to a regenerative model – one that gives back more than it takes from the environment, people and communities.

Leaders from the Tourism industry, Māori, unions, and government worked together, as part of the Environment Leadership Group, to develop this draft action plan.

It was intended to be both practical and transformational.

Why the environment?

  • The health of the natural environment is integral to our tourism offering.
  • A truly regenerative tourism system will increase the mauri – life force – of our land, climate and people; and in doing so, support abundance for Aotearoa New Zealand’s diverse communities, the visitors we host, and our economy.
  • Tourism connects people to each other and to the natural world.
  • Tourism can raise visitors’ awareness of environmental challenges like climate change and biodiversity loss. This can then influence their beliefs and actions – a ripple effect.

The Leadership Group focused on 3 pillars...

  1. Understanding and adapting tourism to the impacts of climate change.
  2. Transforming Aotearoa New Zealand’s visitor economy to a low carbon emissions industry.
  3. Restoring our biodiversity and eco-systems through tourism.

The adaptation pillar (1) was addressed by the Aotearoa Circle’s Tourism Adaptation Roadmap. The Draft Tourism Environment Action Plan focusses on the remaining 2 pillars.

Tīwaiwaka principles

In developing the Environment Action Plan, the Leadership Group drew on the Tīwaiwaka Principles, developed by Rob McGowan (known to many as Pā Ropata).

  1. Te Whenua, Papatūānuku, is the source of all life. She is the Mother.
  2. We are not the centre of the Universe but we are part of it.
  3. The mauri is the web of connections that sustains life.
  4. Te tangata, people, are not the masters of the mauri; we are part o the mauri and embraced by it.
  5. No individual person is more important than any other.
  6. We give special care to the tiniest living creatures.

You can find more information on Tīwaiwaka principles at:

Tīwaiwaka(external link)

The mission

The Leadership Group agreed on a mission to empower the tourism industry to help to restore the mauri of the climate and environment by swiftly achieving carbon zero targets and embracing a regenerative approach. This Plan aimed to pave the way for a future where…

  • We have risen to the challenge of restoring our climate and the challenge of preserving biodiversity.
  • We have worked with communities to create a picture of what healthy visitation looks like.
  • Communities are engaging in regeneration projects that will deliver tangible benefits to locals and visitors alike.
  • We have done what is takes to become truly regenerative so the impact visitors and hosts have is overwhelmingly positive.
  • Tourism is championing our economy-wide transformation to a regenerative way of living.
  • Aotearoa New Zealand is charting the course for others to follow to positive global environmental outcomes.

The Tirohanga Hou

The 6 Tirohanga Hou aimed to deliver on the Leadership Group's aspiration.

The draft Action Plan contained 6 Tirohanga Hou, meaning new outlooks or ways of thinking and doing things.

The Tirohanga Hou, and the actions that sit under each, were deliberately light on implementation detail to create space for others to shape the ideas and direction of this Plan.

Tourism journeys are decarbonised

Explores how Aotearoa New Zealand can achieve net zero emissions tourism by 2050 and uphold our commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement in efforts to limit global warming to 1.5°C.


  1. Develop a Tourism Decarbonisation Roadmap.
  2. Rapidly invest in low-carbon technologies for long-haul air and cruise travel.
  3. Leverage tourism to advocate for rapidly decarbonising domestic transport used by visitors.
  4. Assess the environmental impacts of the current mix of visitors and the impact of levers to shape demand and visitor behaviour.

Tourism champions biodiversity

Seeks to make Aotearoa New Zealand’s tourism industry a champion for our unique biodiversity. Tourism operators will understand and minimise their impact on biodiversity. 


  1. Establish and support collaborative regional environmental projects. 
  2. Develop measures for regenerative tourism.
  3. Ensure green assessment schemes include criteria and standards related to biodiversity. 
  4. Advocate and educate on biodiversity matters at a local and national level. 

Visitor management is optimised for te taiao

Seeks to reduce tourism’s impact on te taiao by managing visitor volumes at particularly sensitive sites and highlighting environmentally friendly activities in marketing.


  1. Assess ideal minimum and maximum visitor numbers at specific sites.
  2. Develop and promote a suite of levers to maintain visitor numbers within these parameters.
  3. Highlight regenerative activities and operators in marketing campaigns.

Accelerated technology uptake and innovation enable regeneration

Lifts technology uptake and embeds a culture of innovation to enable tourism operators and the industry to shift to a regenerative model more rapidly. 


  1. Harness emerging technology within the tourism system.
  2. Organise an in-person event showcasing existing and emerging technology.
  3. Establish a tourism innovation lab.
  4. Contribute tourism perspectives to economy-wide innovation programmes.

Tourism businesses are incentivised and enabled for sustainability and regeneration

Lifts awareness and accelerates adoption of practices that protect and enhance the natural environment. 


  1. Ensure online toolkits on sustainable and regenerative practices are widely available.
  2. Designing and delivering personalised regenerative support programmes to tourism operators.
  3. Foster a collaborative approach between tourism operators.
  4. Respond to research on understanding tourism operators’ adoption of regenerative policies.

The tourism system and its levers are optimised and resourced to support regeneration 

Ensures that the Aotearoa New Zealand’s tourism system, and its various structures and levers, can enable the actions and reinforce the priorities that will drive the transition. 


  1. Undertake a high-level assessment of the tourism system.
  2. Refresh the MBIE Destination Management Guidelines.
  3. Recommend a regular national tourism strategy.
  4. Review funding structures and mechanisms that will enable a regenerative tourism system.
Last updated: 23 February 2024