photos by Find Away Photography

Queenstown Venues Leading the Way in Sustainable Tourism

by Raashka Mannie | 28 Jun 2022

The New Zealand Tourism Sustainability Commitment in action ensures that every New Zealand tourism business is committed to sustainability by 2025, aiming to take the lead worldwide in sustainable tourism. With this in mind, sustainability is at the heart of Queenstown’s world-famous beauty. Preserving their crystal clear lakes, stunning mountain ranges and crisp surroundings are unquestionably linked to not just the management of the environment, but also of its betterment. With so many resources drawn from the core of Queenstown’s ecosystem, the need to actively practice sustainable tourism in everyday settings is now vital. Queenstown aims to focus on caring for the planet and safeguarding their future by committing to environmentally-friendly systems, from wildlife sanctuaries to the restoration of native flora. This collection of venues showcases some of the best and brightest steps towards sustainable tourism in Queenstown. For more information on Queenstown venues, look at our comprehensive guide here.

The Rees

Image by The Rees

The Rees is a luxurious and elegant hotel that sits on the edge of Lake Wakatipu, boasting lovely views of the water, a library of rare books and art, complimentary WiFi and so much more. Additionally, one thing The Rees does like no other in Queenstown is the keeping of honeybees. The Rees Bees are part of their eco initiative, producing around 25kg of honey for harvest from their family of nearly 40,000. Furthermore, The Rees has launched an initiative with the Kiwi Birdlife Park, Kea Conservation Trust and the Department of Conservation to save New Zealand’s native parrot, the Kea, of which under 3,000 remain in the wild. However, it doesn’t end there: The Rees continues to carry out sustainable practices such as the planting of native trees, electric car charging stations on-site, formalised energy consumption monitoring (including carbon offsetting), discharge and in-house recycling management, and even biodegradable toiletries.


Fishbone Bar & Grill

Image by Queenstown NZ

Make your way over to downtown Queenstown, where you’ll find Fishbone Bar & Grill and a variety of fresh seafood that will leave you singing their praises. Their menu is seasonal and innovative, with Darren Lovell at the forefront of their creativity and sustainability. Not only do they catch much of the seafood themselves daily, but Fishbone Bar & Grill also roots around in Darren’s backyard, where his extensive and organic vegetable and herb garden lives. “We’re self-sufficient in all our autumn fruit, which we use on salads and desserts,'' Darren said, “We use [the berries] in our pavlova and other desserts.” Using homegrown produce is one of the more sustainable ways to manage tourism and dining in Queenstown. In keeping with that train, Fishbone Bar & Grill also supports and practices sustainable fishing. They have committed to focusing on reducing their environmental footprint one step at a time, and encourage all their diners to do the same. “Growing up here means fishing and collecting seafood, whether it’s wriggling for clams with your toes, diving for crayfish or spending a Saturday morning floundering,” Darren said. “We should be so proud.”



Image by Eat New Zealand

Amisfield is situated in Central Otago, and has a firm philosophy rooted in the land itself: they draw inspiration from the earth and want their guests to do the same. They opened in 2005, with a building constructed with a pitched copper roof, recycled timberwork and remarkable stonemasonry. Amisfield has developed a new and exciting approach to viticulture - one that looks to help the sustainability of drip-irrigated organic vineyards, as well as conventional vineyards, worldwide. With the arid and varying climate of Central Otago, nutrient deficiencies are quite common, particularly with organic vineyards (such as Amisfield). The benefits of their new approach are two-fold: under vine weed control has been facilitated through the reduction of weed growth and amount; and irrigation water is no longer wasted transporting weeds, but instead used to “grow” nitrogen supply to the vines, using solar energy and rhizobia bacteria. With mid-row irrigation installed alongside the help of Bert Sim, a retired farmer that has leant Amisfield his expertise, they’ve successfully created a new form of organic viticulture suited to drip-irrigated vineyards.



Image by Findaway Photography

Rippon has been a part of Central Otago since 1975, offering gorgeous views of the vineyard and Lake Wanaka, Ruby Island, the Southern Alps and beyond. Their walls are made from compacted earth from Rippon hillside, with trusses and beams built from timber from their forest. They are part of Sustainable Winegrowers New Zealand (SWNZ), a movement spearheaded in 1995, a voluntary, industry-wide initiative created to provide an environmental 'best practice' model for both vineyard and winery. Rippon follows the code of biodynamic winemaking, which, in a nutshell, is a set of farming practices that strives to treat any farm or vineyard as one, solid organism. They employ organic farming methods, alongside soil supplements and a planting calendar that relies on astronomical configurations. They are bound to treating the earth as a living part of their work and livelihoods. "To be granted the opportunity to have my input into Rippon, the land and its wines is special and comes with a huge amount of responsibility. We have already been here for four generations and it would be lovely to be here for another four," said owner Nick Mills.



Image by Scope Media

As Sustainable Vineyard of the Year in 2019, Carrick has strong beliefs and practices surrounding sustainability in every form of the word. They were established in the 1990s and are an hour’s drive from both Queenstown and Wanaka, with relaxing views and so much to offer. As an organic winery and vineyard, Carrick operates under the world-leading Sustainable Winegrowers New Zealand (SWNZ) and focus on 9 “pillars of sustainability”: air, biodiversity, byproducts, energy, people, pest and disease management, soil, water, and business. They also collaborate with Organic Winegrowers New Zealand (OWNZ), an organisation that is dedicated to supporting and encouraging the production of high quality, organic and biodynamically-grown wines. Carrick’s principles of sustainability, organic winegrowing and biodiversity are present throughout their venue. Additionally, they focus on equally important aspects of sustainability in regards to employment and education, with conferences, as well as engagement with the local community and schools.


Blanket Bay Lodge

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Blanket Bay Lodge is one of New Zealand’s premier luxury alpine lodges, known around the globe for their attention to detail and elegant atmosphere. In keeping with their care for their guests, they are equally devoted to reducing their impact on the natural environment by adopting sustainable environmental, economic and social practices. They are part of several local initiatives that focus on the sustainability and natural growth of tourism in New Zealand, as well as avid supporters of local businesses, suppliers and vendors. Blanket Bay Lodge has partnered with local tourism operators to support the community. They also champion the local artists and display a large collection of their work within the Lodge. Craftsmen, tradesmen and furnishings are all locally sourced.


Crowne Plaza Hotel

Image by Queenstown NZ

Mere moments away from the centre of Queenstown, Crowne Plaza Hotel basks in lovely views of Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables and is a hotel known worldwide for their amenities and professionalism. Crowne Plaza Hotel is part of the IHG Green Engage System, described as “an innovative online environmental sustainability system that gives our hotels the means to measure and manage their impact on the environment.” There are over 200 green solutions for participating hotels to choose from, all designed to ensure a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly future. All hotels under the IHG Green Engage System must be at least level 1, which entails completing the 10 best green solutions that pertain to their particular space, such as tracking of consumption, setting up a property green team and installing energy-efficient lighting in guest rooms. Crowne Plaza Hotel is committed to working through the 4 levels of the IHG Green Engage System, which further include sustainable purchasing, installing energy-efficient appliances and much more.


The Glebe

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Centrally located for extra convenience, The Glebe is a classy venue that focuses on bringing key services to their guests with ease. From team-building experiences to dedicated staff, they are here to offer you all that you need - including a conscience outlook on making their venue as sustainable as possible. The Glebe has their own Eco Policy, a doctrine that they have pledged to follow to ensure that they are as green as can be. The main facets of their policy is three-fold: to think before they buy, with informed buying decisions to reduce the amount of raw materials used in manufactured goods, eliminate air and land pollution, cut waste volumes and support local Queenstown and New Zealand businesses; to think before they use, with efficient use of energy, water, cleaning supplies, fuel and so on to reduce their environmental impact; and, lastly, to think before they discard, choosing to recycle as much waste as possible, reducing the amount of materials going into our Southern Lakes landfills. The Glebe believes in biodegradable or environmentally-friendly products, donating which they no longer need, and doing their best to keep Queenstown green.


Hilton Queenstown

Image by Experience Queenstown

On the blue shores of Lake Wakatipu, Hilton Queenstown is 5 minutes from the airport and comes equipped with a relaxing spa for your convenience. This world-class hotel has also partnered with the Tasmanian Native Forest Protection Project in an effort to offset carbon emissions. It doesn’t end there, however. Hilton Queenstown initiated the Soap Aid program in Queenstown in 2016, which inspired several local hotels to join in on the movement. This non-profit organisation focuses on providing recycled soap to communities around the world facing hygiene challenges. Each month, the participating hotels gather used bars of soap (rather than letting tons go to waste in landfills), after which they are sanitised and processed into bars that are donated to those in need around the globe. In a single year, Hilton and the other hotels collected over 2,050kg of discarded soap.

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