Glowing Adventures: light on the land

Glowing Adventures is a boutique family-owned caving business in Waitomo in New Zealand’s North Island.

Located on farmland which has been owned by the same family for over a hundred years, the company offers an authentic caving experience in one of only two cave systems classified as ‘of international significance’ by the New Zealand Department of Conservation. 

With such a strong family connection to the area, Stefan and Michelle Boddie and their team have made a commitment to support the people and the land around them, and ensure it’s protected for future generations.  

Sustainability vision 

The Boddies’ vision is to provide an authentic 'off the beaten tourist track' visitor experience and generate enough income to plant the entire property and leave the legacy of a native forest for future generations. 

Certified Climate Positive 

After being inspired by a talk on carbon neutrality at a Discussing Tourism event, the Boddies decided to investigate the process for their business. They researched a number of options before settling on ekos. “Ekos were very supportive and the process was easy,” says Michelle. They measured all the carbon emissions from their day-to-day operations, including electricity, waste, freight, and company vehicles. They then purchased carbon credits from a certified New Zealand conservation project to offset 120% of their footprint, making them Climate Positive. In future years Michelle and Stefan hope to use the reforestation from their own land towards offsetting their footprint. 

“The whole certification process was completed in two weeks. Figuring out energy relating to deliveries was the hardest part of the certification process,” says Michelle. “All our groceries and supplies are delivered and we had to estimate the weight of each delivery. The team at ekos were so helpful and responsive when we needed guidance.” 

Ecological restoration 

Stefan and Michelle note the irony that they are restoring the native forest that was originally cleared for farming by their great great grandfather. They’ve worked closely with the Waikato Regional Council on reforestation, with planting teams adding thousands of native seedlings to the edges of the forest. A recent council survey of the bush established its significance as a home to native bats, lizards and other indigenous flora and fauna. 

Predator control 

The Glowing Adventures team started pest control in mid 2017 with the support of Council. Using Good Nature traps, they caught 30 possums and 30 rats within the first two months, and continue to catch possumsrats and sometimes the odd stoatresulting in a notable increase of native birdlife into the area. 

Restoring waterways 

In addition to restoring the forest and eradicating predators, the Glowing Adventures team are protecting the waterways on their property that flows into the Waipa River, with fencing to keep stock out. They’ve received support from Council, as the limestone formations on the property are part of what is thought to be the largest underground river system in the region, and possibly New Zealand. 

Waste management 

Glowing Adventures does not require a lot of supplies but some things are ordered online and come from overseas. Michelle says they seek out suppliers who use recyclable packaging and always source locally where they can. 

Visitor satisfaction 

Glowing Adventures is rated the number one Waitomo attraction on TripAdvisor as a result of constant glowing reviews. Michelle explains: “Being number one in Waitomo was a goal we set when we first opened our doors back in 2015, so this was a very important achievement for us”. They encourage visitors to post reviews on social media, monitor feedback and make a point of personally responding to comments.