8 Eco-Tourism Experiences in New Zealand

Harper Reid
January 16, 2024

“Ecotourism has the power to create conservation cultures, and this is best done by providing the context of what is being seen and experienced while in these natural destinations.”

Broadly speaking, eco-tourism is the concept of avoiding mass tourism and minimizing our impact on the earth when we travel; it can also involve improving the lives of locals. This is something that U30X believes in and considers before creating any trip itinerary. The idea of traveling sustainably is taking off in tourism industries around the world, and New Zealand is the perfect place to do it. Under30Experiences' New Zealand trip takes you to some of the best areas in the country (some of the below activities included), but if you have a few extra days, consider adding some of these other activities to your Kiwi itinerary.

Go Diving

The Poor Knights Marine Reserve offers an incredible marine environment perfect for diving, as it’s filled with colorful fish and other fascinating marine life, and is off-limits to fishing. Remember to respect the rules regarding the reserve: as it is a protected area, it is forbidden to take souvenirs.

Cruise in Milford Sound

A visit to spectacular Milford Sound in New Zealand’s South Island is a major draw to many tourists, and it’s easy to do responsibly. Take a cruise with a company that understands the importance of preserving the area, and you’ll be able to take in the incredible scenery and get up close to the local animals without harming the environment. Take only photos and leave only footprints, and you’ll have the experience of a lifetime.

Visit Mount Hikurangi

Mount Hikurangi holds a special place in the heart of many New Zealanders, and taking a guided tour with a local is the perfect way to learn about its history and cultural significance. Visitors will have the chance to explore the mountain, view its iconic statues of Maui and his family, and visit a marae (Maori meeting house). If you choose to take a Mount Hikurangi tour, remember to be respectful of Maori customs, such as taking off your shoes before entering the marae.

Soar over Glacier Country

Marvel at some of NZ’s most beautiful scenery and untouched landscapes with mind-blowing photo opportunities and the best outdoor adventures the country has to offer. On Day 3 of Under30Experiences' New Zealand trip, you’ll enjoy a guided Heli-hike – starting with a helicopter ride to an amazing vantage point atop the Franz Josef glacier. You’ll never see views like this anywhere else! For the rest of the day, you can try out quad biking on local scenic trails, head out on more walking tracks and group hikes, see the glaciers via plane, or go kayaking and see the flora and fauna up close!

Go Sea Kayaking at Cathedral Cove

The best way to explore iconic Cathedral Cove is by kayak! Take a tour with Coromandel Adventures, and you’ll have access to incredible beaches and islands. Kayaking is easy on the environment; listen to your guide and follow the safety instructions and you’ll have the time of your life.

Take Part in a Marine and Wildlife Encounter

Kaikoura is packed with fascinating wildlife, both on land and in the sea. You’ve got multiple options, whether you want to swim with seals, go whale watching, or get up close and personal with pods of dusky dolphins. As long as you remain at a safe distance from the animals (unless your guide tells you otherwise), any one of these spectacular tours is sure to give you memories that you’ll keep forever.

Hike at Tongariro

Could there really be anything more exciting than hiking across Mordor? Not likely! Tongariro National Park is one of New Zealand’s major treasures, and completing the Tongariro Crossing will allow you to see views so unique you’ll feel like you really are in another world. If you visit Tongariro, remember to always bring your rubbish home with you.

Explore Rotorua

Rotorua is a sustainable tourist’s paradise. The area is most famous for its incredible geothermal activity, meaning it’s the perfect place to enjoy the natural environment. Its geysers and mud pools are fascinating, but be careful while you’re exploring: unsuspecting visitors will be in for a nasty shock if they fall into 100°C water.

Get a Bird’s-eye View

Another reason to visit Rotorua is for Canopy Tours. Visitors are able to explore the forest via zip line, and the tour company helps to fund a conservation program aimed at protecting New Zealand’s native fauna. Before you head off, ensure your shoes are free from mud and dirt, as these can harm New Zealand’s delicate ecosystem.

Join us in New Zealand

Has New Zealand peaked your interest? Do you want to see the country in a sustainable way? Check out Under30Experiences' New Zealand trip for more details.

Harper Reid
When she’s not deep into line-by-line edits or gushing over native birds in her backyard, Harper loves visiting new countries to feed her wanderlust. She insists that one day she’ll snub her selachophobia in a session of cage-diving, where she’ll gain appreciation for the terrifying yet special sharks of the deep. Find out more about Harper on her blog:


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