5 more NZ eco-holiday activities

Since New Zealand is literally chock-full of choices for a nature-centered vacation, I thought I’d add 5 more eco-holiday ideas to my previous list of 5. Please check out the earlier article if you’re into caving, hiking, whale watching, yoga, or interested in staying in an eco-lodge. Of course there is absolutely no reason to limit yourself to just one, two or three eco-activities. You’re going to New Zealand – go eco-mad!

Bird watching

Did you know that New Zealand really is for the birds? Before human settlement, the islands had no terrestrial mammals except for seals and bats, so flightless birds like the kiwi and takahe evolved due to a lack of predators. Despite the introduction of many non-native species, birds still compose the most important percentage of vertebrae fauna. New Zealand is now home to 245 species of birds, 71% being native (endemic) to the islands.

Some great options for bird watching include the Zealandia wildlife sanctuary, just 10 minutes from central Wellington and guided tours of Motuara Island Bird Sanctuary and Queen Charlotte Sound. Nature Quest offers both guided and ‘self-drive’ birding trips.

Wildlife cycling on Otago Peninsula

Near Dunedin, New Zealand’s largest university town, lies the Otago Peninsula, a prime spot for both cycling and spotting wildlife. So why not combine the two? Witness fur seals, sea lions and the most rare penguins on Earth (there are only about 4,000 yellow eyed penguins left).

Read more about cycling on Otago Peninsula and see plenty of pictures here.

Food/Farm holiday

Are you a budding foodie? Interested not only in what you eat, but how it’s grown and what kind of ecological impact your diet has? New Zealand offers a range of options for environmentally-conscious food holidays including seminars and classes on diet, juicing, permaculture, organic cooking and reducing your carbon footprint via keeping track of what you eat.

If you’re into getting your hands dirty, you could become a ‘Willing Worker’ on an organic farm. Willing Workers learn about farming, cooking, preserving, composting, etc. while volunteering on a range of different types of organic farms. Find your favorite and get stuck in!

Wine holiday

Though some organic farms produce wine, perhaps the refined experience of a wine-tasting trip is more your speed. Hawkes Bay and Marlborough Sounds are known as New Zealand’s prime wine regions, but there are other, lesser-known wine producing locations like Waiheke Island, Waipara, Wanaka and Warkworth’s Matakana Wine Trail. Apparently it helps if your winery is located in a place starting with a ‘W’.

From China Daily:

Among the standouts are Torlesse (www.torlesse.co.nz), whose premium Omihi Road Pinot Gris is downright buttery and Sticky Riesling is reminiscent of Ontario ice wines; Mud House (www.mudhousewineryandcafe.co.nz), with its mammoth showroom and diverse range of estate wines as well as Marlborough and Otago vintages; and the sprawling Pegasus Bay (www.pegasusbay.com), among whose best include a lemony late harvest riesling.

Milford Sound cruise, pic: Sumeet Mulani (Flickr CC)

Nature/eco-cruises

A remarkable amount of cruise options are on offer around New Zealand. Nature and eco-cruises provide a luxurious and unique way to experience the stunning geography, flora and fauna of these amazing islands. Bear in mind cruises are rarely cheap.

Naturetourse.co.nz offers dolphin-watching excursions, marine wildlife eco-cruises and other cruises combining activities such as bird watching, hiking and swimming with dolphins. Check out HikingNewZealand.com for a great list of nature cruises for New Zealand and beyond. For a dizzying list of eco and nature cruises have a look at the New Zealand Tourism Guide website, which incorporates sailing, kayaking, dolphin encounters, scenic cruises, diving, hiking and much more.

So together with the last piece, this list should just about cover any eco-holiday you could possibly have while in New Zealand. I’m kidding of course. There are tons more.

Have a look at Ecotour, NewZealand.com and the New Zealand Tourism Guide’s Nature and Eco Tourism page for even more ideas.