Kaikoura: Paving the way with environmental leadership

Kaikoura has become a leading example within New Zealand for environmental sustainability, giving further recognition to the town's eco-tourism credentials

The environmental practices of the Kaikoura community have been recognised by EarthCheck and awarded Kaikoura Platinum Certification for Environmental Performance.

Kaikoura is the first community in the Southern Hemisphere to achieve platinum certification from EarthCheck and has been collecting environmental information since 1999.

EarthCheck is the world’s leading environmental benchmarking and certification program for the travel and tourism industry and now operates in over 80 countries across the globe. What is remarkable is that the Kaikoura Community has successfully entered its tenth year of being audited and certified under the EarthCheck Program.

Changing market expectations together with new risks associated with climate change and resource depletion require access to specialised tools and expertise. Taking a science-based approach, the Kaikoura community has benchmarked its environmental performance over time and identified where substantial progress has been made and where further improvements are required.

Kaikoura's world-renowned wild marine environment will be better protected by a new marine reserve, whale and fur seal sanctuary, five customary fishing areas and amateur fishing regulations proposed by the New Zealand Government after endorsing the Kaikoura Marine Strategy 2012, which was developed by the Kaikoura community through Te Korowai o Te Tai o Marokura (The Kaikoura Marine Guardians)

The Hikurangi marine reserve is focused on the very deep waters of the area's canyon, connecting with the land for about two kilometres just north of Goose Bay and extending out to 23 km. The new reserve, banning mining, fishing or harvesting of any kind in the area, is larger and deeper than any existing marine reserve on New Zealand's three main islands.

The Kaikoura whale sanctuary extends 45 kilometres north and south of the Kaikoura peninsula and 56km out to sea, protecting the sperm, humpback, southern right, blue, killer and other whales that frequent the area and prohibits high-level seismic survey work.

The Ohau Point New Zealand fur seal sanctuary sanctuary extends 700m along the coastal side of State Highway 1 out about 50 metres to the low water spring mark, covering an approximate area of four hectares and takes in the most significant breeding colony of New Zealand fur seals on the country's main islands.

Kaikoura's extraordinary marine environment needs the protection and recognition of these new sanctuaries and reserves. This is the most biologically rich ocean anywhere in the world of over 500 metres depth because of its deep canyon so close to shore.

These measures would benefit Kaikoura's whales, dolphins, seals, albatross, rock lobster, shellfish and finfish as well as helping to sustain Kaikoura's tourism industry - defined by its wild coastline, whales and crayfish.

Kaikoura continues to walk the talk when it comes to environmental sustainability and is committed to ongoing improvement.

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