Sustainable Travel: Tour Operators in Mārahau, Nelson unite with new promise

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Tourism companies are committed to pioneering regenerative tourism. Video / Marahau

A small town on the South Island has set an example for sustainable tourism by launching a new initiative.

All tourism businesses in the coastal town of Mārahau, Nelson have come together under a new initiative, launched today, dubbed the Mārahau Pledge.

Every single Mārahau-based tourism provider, from canyoning guides to water taxis, has subscribed to the pledge, which demonstrates an active commitment to protecting the environment in three key ways.

All signatories must be independently certified as zero-carbon companies by Ekos, agree to share their knowledge with other companies to drive sustainability, and donate a portion of ticket profits to biodiversity projects in the area.

If you’ve hiked through Able Tasman National Park, you’ve probably passed through the small coastal settlement of Mārahau on the way there.

For those visiting the city, the new pledge means that any local tourism provider you choose will be carbon-free and donate a portion of your ticket to a local conservation project.

Johny O’Donnell, a spokesman for the project, said the pledge aims to protect the area’s natural environment and support local people.

“As people who live, work and play here, we have a shared responsibility to care for and respect the environment,” he said.

Fiona Wilson, chief executive of the Nelson Regional Development Agency, who helped create the pledge, said it’s a win-win for visitors too.

“People are really keen to travel again but it has fundamentally changed
Raising awareness of the impact of tourism on local communities and the environment,” she said.

“It’s definitely not back to normal for the visitor sector post Covid, we all know there have to be changes.”

O’Donnell agreed. While every visitor is valuable to the local economy, it is important to find the “right balance” between recreation and sustainability.

The pledge was just one of the ways the region is trying to strike that balance.

“A key focus of our Destination Management Plan is to encourage visitors to care more about our region and do more for them while they are here,” she said.

“We know there is a growing demand for low-footprint travel and last year launched New Zealand’s first zero-carbon itinerary to show how easy it is for visitors to travel more consciously in Nelson Tasman.”

The Mārahau Promise is another way for visitors to have confidence that their experience would not have a negative impact on the environment.

Mārahau may be a small village of 200 people, but according to Renee Thomas, (Ngāti Rārua) kaitiaki of Whenua of the Wakatū Incorporation in Mārahau, it is a popular tourist village.

“Thousands of people visit us, especially on the way to experience the Abel Tasman”,
She said.

“The Mārahau Pledge is a recognition that large numbers of visitors have an impact on the environment and that the visitor sector takes responsibility for making a practical contribution to the long-term well-being of te taiao in Mārahau.”

Currently, only companies offering ticketed experiences from Mārahau to Abel Tasman Park have signed the pledge.

There are plans to explore how other businesses such as restaurants and hotels can participate.

The Marahau promise

This is our promise to Mārahau.
That is our promise for the future.
We pledge to care for Mārahau, its surroundings and each other.
Be aware of our impact and take responsibility for it.
Inspire protection through connection.
Easy to pedal and slow to explore.
To regenerate our land, our air, our water and all living things.
Giving something back to this place that gives us so much.
To care more and explore more.
to be good ancestors.
Nei tō mātou oati ki a Mārahau
Nei te oati mo anamata
Ko Marahau kei runga, kei raro, kei roto, kei waho. Tatou ki a tatou.
Kia rongo, kia mōhio, kia mārama ki ō tātou tapuwae waro
Kia whakaohoohotia te pare i te herenga tangata
Kia ata tuhuratia.
Kia tipu, kia rea ​​ngā koha ō rātou mā.
Kia taukohatia ngā hua o Mārahau.
Kia tomenetia i roto i te manaaki.
Kia tika te tūāpapa mo āpōpō

How to take care of the environment when visiting Mārahau and Abel Tasman:

• Anything you bring with you, take it with you – this includes plastic, glass and food waste.

• Respect the plants and animals. The only thing to take away from the park is

photographs.

• Our native birds are not adapted to human food so please do not feed them no matter how cute they are!

• You can also take the Tiaki promise: care for land, sea and nature, with light steps and without leaving a trace.

• Travel safely and show care and consideration for everyone

• Respect the culture, travel with an open heart and mind.

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