How Nelson Tasman, New Zealand is pioneering in carbon-neutral tourism

05:00:58 - September 14, 2021

Environmental issues are more globally concerned than ever. A concept usually mentioned is carbon-neutral, and tourism is one of the sectors taking responsibility for reducing carbon emissions into the environment. Currently, many destinations have begun to apply carbon-neutral tourism. Among them, Nelson Tasman is considered as one of the pioneers in this sector.

The epidemic has badly impacted tourism all around the world, but has also given human beings more time to reflect, and look at their impacts on this planet. As a result, people have gradually learned how to care more about the Earth’s “health” as well as theirs. Recently, carbon-neutral or sustainability are the most-searched phrases in environmental issues.

Carbon-neutral is balancing the emitting carbon, and absorbing carbon to reach net-zero carbon emission by simplest ways such as planting more trees or recycling, and reusing old stuff. At the moment, many businesses and destinations commit to applying carbon-neutral in their operation processes. The Nelson Tasman region in New Zealand is now one of the outstanding carbon-neutral tourist attractions.

Practical actions of Nelson Tasman

With the vision to become New Zealand’s most sustainable destination, Nelson Tasman is redefining its goals from maximising the number of visitors to becoming a carbon-neutral destination. This region has enough potential to develop sustainable tourism as well as satisfying all types of travelers with a diverse marine ecosystem, stunning coastline, ancient forests, clean and clear lakes, etc.

Nelson Tasman is utilizing its every strength, implementing meaningful activities, and coming up with plans to boost carbon-neutral tourism.

The first zero-carbon travel in New Zealand

Last April, the Nelson Regional Development Agency (NRDA) launched a four-day journey named Zero Carbon Itinerary. This is the first zero-carbon travel in New Zealand backed by Ekos, a social enterprise aiming for a sustainable future, features accommodation, adventure travel experiences with all 14 businesses committing zero-carbon operators.

Many small businesses and companies across the Nelson Tasman region have been Zero Carbon or Climate Positive certified, which means absolutely removing carbon out of the environment.

In Zero Carbon Itinerary, travelers can cycle to explore Nelson Tasman on the network of cycleways Great Taste Trail, or pick up a hybrid car to visit many locations such as Nelson airport, or The Free House, the first climate positive pub in New Zealand to offset an 120 percent of carbon emission, etc.

Besides, tourists can also participate in many good for health activities including kayaking, hiking trips offered in the Abel Tasman National Park, all of which have been measured, and are zero-carbon certified. If they want to feel more adventurous, they can skydive, zipline, jump, and slide down pristine waterfalls of the Torrent River in the national park.

Many local food and beverage businesses around the Nelson Tasman region particularly care for the environment by using recyclable or compostable packaging, repurposing and minimising food waste, growing their own produce, using eco-friendly cleaning products, and promoting reusable cups.

Jared Bosecke, manager of Zero Carbon Itinerary project shared that Nelson Tasman had installed and used solar panels on the area of five hectares, and hoped to be able to expand more in the future.

In addition, Nelson Tasman also invested in a very organized and eye-catching website to help travelers search for information easily, simultaneously understand well the vision and targets that this region aims for.

According to Nelson Tasman’s website, responsible travel doesn’t mean missing out on delectable cuisine, extraordinary experiences, spectacular scenery and comfortable accommodation. On the other hand, travelers can contribute positively to protecting nature, and the environment.

Destination management plan 2021 – 2026

In the next five-year period (2021 – 2026), Nelson Tasman is determined to place environment and community at its heart. According to the plan of Nelson Regional Development Agency (NRDA), Nelson Tasman is responsible for ensuring visitors and locals respect the destination with three national parks, one forest park and many protected natural areas.

Nelson Tasman will enhance road trips within the region and develop low carbon footprint options and “transport yourself” journeys, for example combining hiking, biking and kayaking. From there, the region aims to grow the proportion of travelers to the region who walk or cycle as well as the percentage of visitors participating in a carbon or waste reduction initiative.

Nelson Tasman also expects that the number of businesses certified as carbon zero or climate positive will over double by 2025 – 2026, from 17 businesses at the moment to 40. Nelson Tasman will link these businesses into zero-carbon itineraries to show visitors how they can reduce the carbon footprint of their travel here. Many other tourism operators are approaching sustainability with their own initiatives. According to a recent survey of Nelson Tasman tourism operators, 87% of travelers are interested in reducing the carbon footprint of their business.

Lately, Stuart Nash, the New Zealand’sMinister of Tourism, confirmed 1 million USD funding to NRDA to support tourism in Nelson Tasman.

Fiona Wilson, NRDA’s new CEO, said: “We are extremely grateful for this significant investment into the region. It demonstrates Government confidence in our new destination management plan, which represents a new era for strategic support for the visitor sector in Nelson Tasman, placing community and environment at the heart.”

Photo credit: Nelson Tasman.


Proposing a specific destination management plan for a five-year period shows that Nelson Tasman is extremely serious and focused on the local tourism industry. At the same time, the tourism development here is connected with the determination to reduce the carbon footprint, towards sustainable and carbon-neutral tourism.

Only via the Zero Carbon Itinerary project, Nelson Tasman has affirmed that they can do what they say in order to build a very methodical and detailed model with a clear message about the environment. They have invested carefully from their presence, website to full information about the itinerary, destinations, and zero-carbon-certificated businesses in the region.

With all the above efforts, Nelson Tasman deserves to be one of the leading destinations in charge of carbon-neutral tourism. Besides, Nelson Tasman is expected to become a tourist attraction for visitors who love the environment after New Zealand’s borders reopen. Currently, the country is planning to open its door for international tourism starting from the beginning of 2022, after completing vaccination for every inhabitant.

How Nelson Tasman, New Zealand is pioneering in carbon-neutral tourism


The requirement was accepted, please check your email for the document.