New Zealand’s clean green image – a couple of points of view

New Zealand's clean green image personified in the Strath Taieri ~ photo Southern Light

For the third summer running now in Mt Aspiring National Park, I interact with many tourists intent on being the overseas equivalent of a New Zealand tramper.

Most know our “Clean Green” marketing ploy is not what it seems, and that New Zealand is perceived as just one big farm. To think otherwise ignores the profound “connectedness” the Internet has on the sharing of information world wide.

We’ve got an awful lot of work to do in some areas to live up to the marketing, but really I hope our motivation is otherwise with more of a flavour of health and well-being!


This aside ‘tho it’s kinda weird that politicians are still stuck in a retro ten to twenty year time warp, totally out of touch with our visitors. The inference being also out of touch with our landscape!

School group at Aspiring Hut
At the end of the NZ school year many schools opt to do a final school camp at Aspiring Hut in Mt Aspiring National Park.  

Also at the same early summer time, there are always a handful of oversea’s groups of student specifically here in the country to study our unique environment. These students are highly motivated also doing volunteer work for DOC ranging from Nelson to Fiordland

In this post I want to present two views – neither particularly extreme. Lets have the good news first:

Water quality good for summer swimming | Otago Daily Times Online News

Taieri River
Upper reaches of the Taieri River in Central Otago ~ photo Southern Light’s Donald Lousley

Water quality in Otago has been good so far this summer, Otago Regional Council (ORC) seasonal recreational water quality testing shows. Three sites have had alert/amber warnings at certain times since the summer round of testing began at the beginning of

Source: Water quality good for summer swimming | Otago Daily Times Online News

… which reinforces my experience that Regional Councils and associated environmental dept’s, ie Environment Southland, many farmers, and New Zealand’s Dept. of Conservation do an extremely good job not only keeping us safe, but in the facilitation of our summer enjoyment. Much of this work goes unnoticed and unsung!

White-faced heron
Healthy rivers also mean healthy habitats for our birds! 

This white-faced heron in the lower Cardrona river-bed near Wanaka is an Australian immigrant which began breeding in New Zealand only in the 1940s, none-the-less the lesson is obvious! ~ photo Southern Light’s Donald Lousley

By contrast, and almost on the same day, we have the below opinion on our “Clean Green Image”. After reading it please leave a comment with your views or experiences in your neighbourhood

Dialogue: An environmental crisis second to none – Environment – NZ Herald News

It’s the time of year to get close to nature. Forest & Bird has thoughtfully released a list of 10 places (“New Zealand’s hidden treasures”) where families can do just that. Except that none of the country’s numerous lakes, rivers or streams are named among them.

The Lord of the Rings actor and New Zealand tour guide operator Bruce Hopkins is not surprised, calling our rivers and lakes “gutter holes” and “sewer pipes”. He slams the “clean green” image behind the 100% Pure New Zealand promotion.

Acting Tourism Minister Paula Bennett has defended it, saying: “It’s an award-winning campaign that is working brilliantly for New Zealand with record growth in visitor numbers.”It’s not, and never has been, an environmental measure.”

Hopkins believes “we are leaning towards being deceptive around how we sell ourselves as a tourist destination”.

Source: Dialogue: An environmental crisis second to none – Environment – NZ Herald News

White heron
White heron – kōtuku  

Rare in New Zealand, with a population of just 100–120 birds, the elegant white heron or kōtuku posed for photographer Donald Lousley last winter at the bottom of the Snow Farm road in the Cardrona Valley.  

Kōtuku have a mythical status for Māori because of their rarity and beauty.