As New Zealand grapples with growing visitor numbers in our conservation areas, wilderness venture Timber Trail Lodge has been singled out for its environmental and community-minded approach to business.
Chris Roberts, Tourism Industry Aotearoa chief executive, recently stayed at the lodge, which is located deep in Pureora Forest Park at the midway point of the 84 kilometre, New Zealand Great Ride Timber Trail cycleway.
He said the Lodge is a wonderful example of how well-conceived businesses can operate sustainably in New Zealand’s wilderness places.
“The Timber Trail Lodge is a credit to the local King Country investors who saw an opportunity to support their region, then committed their own money to make it happen,” he said.
“The result is a top-quality, environmentally-sensitive and affordable facility that caters for both bikers and walkers on the Timber Trail in Pureora Forest Park. Working closely with other local businesses, such as shuttle and bike rental operators and general suppliers, it’s the sort of private sector partnership with conservation that should be replicated elsewhere.
“The business demonstrates how tourism and conservation can work together.”
Timber Trail Lodge is located at Piropiro, the site of an abandoned native forest milling village. It is remote and off grid, and embraces solar power along with programmes for recycling, predator pest control and native reforestation. There is also a strong focus on employing locals and working with small local businesses.
With more than 3000 overnight visitors in the past year, the Silver Qualmark 5star lodge is just in its second year of operation. Initially it has been attracting mainly North Island mountain bikers, however word is spreading and increasingly international guests and Te Araroa Trail walkers are being hosted at the lodge. During the off season its popularity for off-grid corporate retreats and meetings is growing.
The Timber Trail heads south from Pureora; it passes through giant podocarp forest and crosses deeply incised rivers on swing bridges purpose-built for mountain bikers. The ride is rated as Grade 2 (Easy/Moderate).
Roberts’ comments come as New Zealanders wrestle with managing increasing visitor demand, and at the same time as caring for the environment, supporting local communities and deliver outstanding experiences.