73. A carbon-zero itinerary for New Zealand’s South Island
In New Zealand’s indigenous language of te reo Māori, tiaki means ‘to care for people and place’, and the country’s invitation for travellers to take the ‘Tiaki Promise’ inspires visitors to ‘care for the land, sea and nature, treading lightly and leaving no trace’: here is No. 73 of our 101 Reasons To Stop Dreaming About New Zealand And Go.
The Nelson Tasman region on New Zealand’s South Island/Te Waipounamu is spoilt when it comes to stunning landscapes, encompassing as it does sparkling coastal stretches and austere and rugged mountains. Little wonder that it is determined to keep these beautiful vistas and diverse natural habitats as pristine as possible by leading from the front in the development of sustainable and conscious tourism practices, including the country’s first zero-carbon itinerary for visitors.
Arrive at the award-winning Nelson Airport, built with locally sourced timbers and using passive design principles. Head to The Gentle Cycling Company to hire e-bikes and set off on Tasman’s Great Taste Trail to search out scenery and sustenance, or opt to join Wine, Art & Wilderness’s guided tours around wineries, art galleries or the region’s best nature spots. Pick up a hybrid hire car and head to The Free House, the first climate-positive pub in the country, where you should sample brews by The Mussel Inn (the eco-conscious cafe/bar/ music venue and brewery in Golden Bay in North West Nelson, is also worth a visit on your travels) while feasting on provisions from Fresh Choice supermarket, specialising in local produce (which is labelled with ‘less than 200 kilometres’ stickers to help you buy local). Call it a night in a private room with en suite at the family-owned-and-run YHA Nelson by Accents, which is perfectly positioned for the Nelson Saturday Market.
Head to Mārahau (with a stop off in Motueka to grab an organic, fair trade caffeine fix at the carbon positive-accredited Celcius Coffee) for a day of fun in Abel Tasman National Park with Abel Tasman Aqua Taxi and Mārahau Sea Kayaks, both of which have been measured and zero-carbon certified, watching seals resting on rocks and listening to birdsong. You could choose a Fantasy Island guided trip, taking in the pristine golden coastline to Adele Island and the happy chatter from the abundant birdlife (The Abel Tasman Birdsong Trust works with local tourism operators and the Department of Conservation among others to preserve and protect the natural flora and fauna and promote sustainable management of the Park and environs). Relax in the waterfront beer garden at Hooked, which measures and offsets its operational emissions, before bedding down at Abel Tasman Lodge, with an EV station for charging your hybrid vehicle.
Get your adrenaline pumping ziplining, jumping, sliding and abseiling down waterfalls on the Torrent River with Abel Tasman Canyons, or for a more sedate pace, Abel Tasman Sailing Adventures offers a full day on the water or a combo itinerary that includes seal-spotting and exploring the park.
Bid farewell to Mārahau and head to Motueka to get a view of the Abel Tasman coastline or the rugged mountains of Kahurangi National Park from 6000 metres above the ground with Skydive Abel Tasman. Once on land again, head back towards Nelson, stopping at a roadside stall to pick up some fresh fruit locally grown in this fertile food bowl, and stocking up on all-natural, locally made peanut butter at Pic’s Peanut Butter World.