Queenstown Mayor, Glyn Lewers, recently announced the bold ambition
of being carbon zero by 2030 to industry and local stakeholders, citing
strong support and enthusiasm from the wider community had provided
permission to embark on the ambitious journey.
The strategy is being carefully defined to include aviation, both
flights into and from the district, and local transport. It is also
firmly committed to removing carbon and not using offsetting as a
Following the announcement international destination management
expert Rodney Payne, CEO of Destination Think, said being the first
tourism destination in the world to commit to being carbon neutral by
2030 bodes well for the future of New Zealand’s tourism and business
“It starts to create momentum and build a market that gives
investors’ confidence,” Payne said. “We’re going to put our collective
might around solving this massive existential problem and the time is
now and the first mover advantage is massive.
“Queenstown Lakes has put their hand up to say we’re ready to be that
testbed, we’re ready to be that first adopter of new innovations to
achieve it. That builds a reputation for the place that is going to
stimulate all kinds of economic growth and help diversify the economy as
well as doing something that’s really powerful.”
Destination Think has been working on the strategy with the
Queensland Lakes District Council and other key stakeholders including
Destination Queenstown chief executive Mat Woods and Lake Wānaka Tourism
chief executive Tim Barke. Input is also being received from Kāi Tahu
and the Department of Conservation.
As one of the most pristine tourism destinations in the world, the
goal through the new strategy is for it to remain so, with Queenstown to
continue to be able to remain popular for tourism and business events
but with less impact or indeed zero impact on the region and its
Already, innovations are taking place in Queenstown, with the popular
Shotover Jet company developing a prototype electric jet boat, and
plans to develop a carbon neutral fuel source for the TSS Earnslaw – an
historic steamship that transports tourists on Lake Wakatipu daily.
Destination Queenstown chief executive Mat Woods said he can envision
visitors arriving into Queenstown on electric or hydrogen powered
planes, getting to their accommodation on hydrogen or electric buses,
renting an electric vehicle and moving around town on foot, e-scooter or
“Many operators in the district have already built important
environmental and sustainable processes into their businesses,” he said.
On the ground, Ngai Tahu is producing the world’s first electric jet
boat prototype for its Shotover Jet fleet; Headwaters Eco Lodge
(previously called Camp Glenorchy) is the first visitor accommodation
facility in the world to achieve the Living Building Challenge Petal
certification for net-positive energy, net-positive water and an
approach to beauty that inspires the human spirit; and Ziptrek Ecotours
is Queenstown’s first carbon-neutral tourism business.
The scope of the entire strategy will be announced in March.