Tips and places for a greener getaway
Making lifestyle choices with a gentler impact on the environment doesn’t only apply to life at home. With Easter and Anzac day on the horizon, many of us plan to make the most of a long weekend by heading away for a break. Planning a sustainable escape is another way you can take better care of the planet.
We’ve brought together a bunch of eco retreats and other places around New Zealand that you might want to consider for your next break. We know there will be plenty of others – if you’ve stayed at a place that puts sustainability at the top of the list, why not leave a comment and let us know?
Set on ten acres overlooking the Tasman Sea, this eco retreat is more than just a place to stay. It’s also home to a surf school, the Raglan yoga centre and hosts wellbeing workshops. There are also plant-based meals harvested from the permaculture garden on site.
And the accommodation includes dormitories in recycled railway cabooses, off the grid ‘glamping’, or an earth dome with low impact facilities including solar powered showers and LED lighting.
Magic Cottages is an eco experience on the banks of the Takou River in Kerikeri. The owners make every effort to be kinder to the planet - from rainwater harvesting and use, greywater recycling for irrigation to composting and energy efficient lighting and appliances. The 150 acre property is certified organic and is home to abundant native birdlife and plants – more than 40,000 native trees have been planted since 2004.
Nestled amongst native bush, the lodge is surrounded with bird life and views of Arthur’s Pass National Park and mountain ranges. The lodge isn’t connected to the electricity grid and there are no power points. Solar panels enable lighting and LPG is used to cook. With no cell phone coverage or television, it’s a real getaway!
In the small township of Little River on Banks Peninsula in Christchurch, Silo Stay, takes its name from two storey grain silos that have been converted into eco accommodation. The ‘cocoons’ you stay in are insulated with New Zealand wool, and wood pellets are used for heating in winter - a waste product of timber production, and in summer, the silo lids open skyward offering natural cooling and star gazing. Even the waste water, including sewage and food waste runs into a Bio Pod, which extracts energy to nourish worms that break it down.
Beaconstone is a fully solar powered retreat and backpackers overlooking the Paparoa Mountains on the West Coast. As well as bush walks to river pools, there’s fresh produce from the organic garden on offer. Rainwater is the sole water supply and the kitchen uses an energy efficient refrigerator, wood range stove and a compost bucket.
If your stay is going to be a little more urban, you might want to consider a motel or hotel chain that considers sustainability. Here’s some information about what two chains do to reduce their environmental impact:
The Accor Hotel group has launched Planet 21, a programme for sustainable development. In New Zealand, this strategy ensures that sustainability is a key operational focus for Accor hotels nationwide, and they have implemented some pretty innovative ideas to be more environmentally conscious. Novotel in Queenstown provides local honey to guests from their rooftop beehive, in Wellington the hotel harvests rain water, and in Christchurch Novotel maintains a large herb garden to supply their restaurant’s kitchen.
The Millennium Hotel group has undertaken various eco initiatives to work towards a higher level of sustainability. The Millennium Hotel in Queenstown gives guests the option to “Go Green” and not have their room serviced. From their rooms, guests are also able to recycle glass, plastic and paper. All shower heads have been fitted with low flow valves and all guest room lights have energy efficient bulbs. The sustainability program flows through to hotel staff, too. One staff member from each department has volunteered to look after the recycling for their team and attend a monthly sustainability meeting. A green competition is also held to encourage staff ideas around lessening their impact on the environment.
Here’s our top five tips for choosing eco-friendly accommodation:
1. Find out if there’s a sustainability plan in place.
Before making a booking, check out what’s in practice to minimise the impact on the planet, such as re-using water, using renewable energy and minimising waste.
2. Check what the options are for guests to be kinder to the planet.
See if there’s a choice to opt out of daily linen and towel replacement and if there’s recycling and water saving facilities for guests to use if they wish.
3. Find out whether eco-friendly products are used
Check if the accommodation provider uses gentle cleaners and if they offer plant-based personal care products for guests.
4. Investigate what the provider does to help the surrounding community
It’s not just internal operations that make your accommodation sustainable. Find out what they do to manage and protect their surrounding natural habitat and see if they have an active role and positive impact on their community.
5. Look for environmental certifications.
The Qualmark Enviro program recognises organisations with an environmental commitment and that actively participate in energy efficiency and conservation initiatives. Not only is this a helpful resource to draw on for accommodation decisions, it also covers recreational activity providers that you might want to look into whilst planning your trip.
Green Globe is an internationally recognised certification program for organisations that reduce their impact on the environment. As Green Globe is a worldwide initiative it can be helpful for planning adventures that are further afield.