EarthCheck Awards NZ’s Kaikoura Community for 10 years of Sustainable Tourism

EarthCheck, a global leader in environmental benchmarking and certification, will today present the community of Kaikoura in New Zealand’s South Island with a Platinum Award for 10 years of continuous certification for sustainable tourism.

Using EarthCheck’s science-based approach to sustainability, the tiny community of just 3800 people has benchmarked its environmental performance across six areas and implemented a number of projects to achieve outstanding results. Most significantly, the community has reduced its annual waste from 450kg to 140kg per person, or little more than seven 240 litre wheelie bins of rubbish per person per year.

Renowned for whale watching and a pristine coastal environment, Kaikoura attracts more than one million visitors to its shores. It is the first community in the Southern Hemisphere to achieve EarthCheck’s Platinum Award.

Mayor Winston Gray of the Kaikoura District Council congratulated the Kaikoura community for an ‘all in’ approach to the environment and for living and breathing New Zealand’s “100% Pure” brand.

“Since first adopting a sustainable approach in the 1990s, the Kaikoura community has walked the talk to become a poster child for the “100% pure NZ” brand,” said Mayor Gray.

“Among a range of projects implemented over the past decade, we have stopped kerb-side rubbish collection and replaced it with free recycling pick-up, added an organic waste collection to help compost food waste and, through the Significant Natural Areas and Trees for Travelers programs, planted around 5000 native trees and shrubs to help offset emission production."

“I am enormously proud of the work the community has undertaken to achieve the EarthCheck certification.” Stewart Moore, CEO EarthCheck said.

"Kaikoura is a true pioneer when it comes to a community approach to the environment and one of the world’s heroes for waste reduction.

"The District Council has played an integral role in motivating the community to make a difference, from embedding recycling programs into the school system to celebrating novel ways to reuse trash.

“EarthCheck’s Platinum Certification marks 10 years of sustainable tourism and reflects the council’s leadership.”

One of the founding research team members to work on Kaikoura’s environmental benchmarking program, Professor David Simmons from New Zealand’s Lincoln University, adds that Kaikoura is proof that a community can live the ‘100% pure NZ’ brand.

“This is not about an advertising whizz kid sitting in an office and coming up with a catchy tag-line for tourism. This is about the dozens of businesses in the Kaikoura community and those throughout the country that have adopted best sustainable tourism practices to live the NZ brand every day.

“It also sends a clear signal that all sectors - agriculture, horticulture and tourism - can work to a common goal.”

The environmental approach has had tangible impacts on at least one tourist who made positive comments on TripAdvisor. When contacted directly, Hassan, a traveler from Belgium said he was influenced to visit Kaikoura as a result of the community’s approach to the environment.

"I heard of Kaikoura from friends who had visited the region. They spoke of the positive environmental approach and amazing wildlife encounters. I just had to see for myself.”