One year ago in November 2018, Tourism New Zealand launched its “Tiaki Promise” Campaign, which encourages conscious traveling throughout New Zealand, in regards to not only a travelers environmental impact, but also the impact that traveling through a country can have on local communities and facilities.
New Zealand is known for its pristine scenery and beautiful landscapes and it is important that the country is cared for to ensure this is maintained. The public service department responsible for conserving New Zealand’s environment and cultural history, the Department of Conservation, does a fantastic job, but there are also a number of private efforts which also make a significant contribution to the future of New Zealand’s history and environment.
Here at MajorDomo, we are experts in Luxury Tourism and are very proud to offer two very special properties which are leading the way in conservation, offering an environmentally-conscious option for luxury travellers: both homes operate privately funded conservation work, driven by a passion for the environment and providing guests the opportunity to stay in ultra-luxury accommodation amongst native flora and the sound of native birdsong.
Piwakawaka Point is a breath-taking private villa, which has been featured in architectural magazines around the globe for its outstanding form and design, but surrounding this beautiful home is a landscape that has been defined by the owner’s dedication to conservation. After decades of pastoral farming, the land had been stripped of natural vegetation and birdlife, and the owners have invested heavily in private conservation in a bid to restore the land to its native state.
Since 2007, the Piwakawaka Conservation Project has planted over one million trees and created three natural wetland habitats. The vast majority of the trees planted are eco-sourced seeds from within five miles of the property – Mountain Beech is the most populous of these as it was the species most prominent historically on the property, with another thirty native tree species making up most of the plants introduced across the 330-acre property.
More than 100 “special and rare” native tree species from Mount Aspiring National Park have also been eco-sourced and introduced – these species are either under threat or require special care and attention to ensure that they thrive. The only substantial deviation from planting New Zealand native trees has been a few food source species (which were introduced to ensure the native birdlife thrives before maturity in the forest is restored) and some Sequoias. These were chosen because of their historical attachment to Wanaka and their scale and grandeur, which compliments the vistas and scale of the property.
The Piwakawaka Point conservation project has also been working to encourage the re-introduction of native birdlife; The fantail (aka Piwakawaka), Bellbird, and Tui population have already rebounded with increasing numbers, and there is currently a pair of Karearea breeding on the property. It is hoped that in the future, the population of Karearea will grow and that Branded Rail and Brown Teal can be introduced to the wetlands. Extensive pest control is also in place with the hope that kiwi can, one day in the near future, be introduced onto the property.
Guests staying at Piwakawaka Point can enjoy extensive private walking and biking trails on the property, which interweave the native planting to give you a great insight into the conservation project. The property is designed to encourage outdoor living, with paddleboards, an oversized hot pool, and gorgeous outdoor entertaining areas, which mean guests can really indulge in the beautiful birdsong as their soundtrack, and pristine scenery.
Guests who do wish to experience this truly amazing property can do so with a clear conscience – the owners are delighted to guarantee to fully carbon abate the travel to and from New Zealand though the tree planting program for any guests staying 7 or more nights.
Mahu Whenua is an enormous property, covering 130,000 acres of land between Wanaka and Queenstown – the property was purchased as four adjoining high-country stations as the owner felt it presented a great opportunity to look at an environmental project on an exceptionally large scale in New Zealand. As with Piwakawaka Point, the owner is committed to repairing the damage caused by decades of farming and re-instating the native habitats which would have prevailed in years gone by. In support of the conservation work, the owner of Mahu Whenua placed covenants on over 90% of the property in order to ensure that the conservation efforts are not reversed in the future. These covenants are protected under the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust.
To date, Mahu Whenua has planted over 1.3 million native plants, including over 40,000 Manuka trees. Beehives are dotted along the valley and encourage the distribution and pollination of planted natives and breed and release programs for native birdlife (Weka and Pukeko) are also in place. An extensive pest eradication project is reducing the number of introduced species that are a threat to the ground-dwelling birdlife on site. As with Piwakawaka Point, many native birds are already rebounding naturally following the extensive planting project, and guests thoroughly enjoy watching the birds flying on the thermal drafts from the huge picture windows in the living room.
Given the unprecedented scale of the project in New Zealand, The University of Otago undertake research on the property, creating a fantastic partnership which allows a unique opportunity to see how theories about conservation and restoration work out in practice. Research into the success of this conservation project, can in the future, improve our understanding of the best methods to use in recovering New Zealand’s native environments.
Coordinating a project of this scale is no small feat, and it truly highlights the dedication to conservation on behalf of the owner and his team that this project continues to develop.
Guests at Mahu Whenua can opt to take an educational orientation tour of the property, and learn more about the conservation efforts that take place. There are also a range of other experiences, including horse riding, helicopter flights, and self-guided hiking and e-biking trails which can be explored which will lead you close to some of the planting work, or the breeding enclosures.