EcoZip’s sustainability vision is centred on six pillars or obligations they believe underpin their social licence to operate:
There’s also a seventh pillar - the commitment to educate the company’s guests, encouraging them to enjoy their visit to New Zealand yet, in doing so, travelling with a light footprint and respecting our land, forests and rivers.
In October 2019, EcoZip was certified Carbon Positve by ekos, with carbon credits sourced from the Rarakau Rainforest Conservation Project in Western Southland. Gavin Oliver from EcoZip says: “Measuring our carbon footprint was enlightening and highlighted a range of ways in which we can proactively reduce our emissions in the future. We’re a business that’s totally committed to thinking and acting sustainably, so going the extra mile to become carbon positive wasn’t a tough decision. I’d encourage other businesses to explore how they can lighten their footprint.” The company is developing further strategies to reduce its carbon footprint as it continues to grow.
EcoZip owns and operates a 21 hectare site, largely covered with coastal remnant rainforest, sections of which are up to 700 years old. For years the site was abandoned, resulting in the forest being suffocated with invasive weeds, while introduced predators, like rats and stoats, had decimated the once abundant native wildlife. Upon purchasing the land in 2012 the company implemented weed eradication, pest control and forest rehabilitation programmes, funded through income from the business. Subsequently thousands of hours have been invested by the company’s guides, and by specialist experts, who’ve thrown themselves into the role of kaitiaki, or guardians, with unbridled enthusiasm.
Today the weeds that once choked the site from forest floor to canopy are gone, thousands of native trees have been planted, and predators are well under control. The forest, once silent, now rings with birdsong. Its biodiversity has exploded and the company’s visitors, to their delight, routinely encounter native birds and reptiles.
The company’s overarching aim for their forest site, which has been designated a Site of Environmental Significance, is to see it returned to a state similar to that which the island’s first Māori inhabitants might have encountered. Having made significant progress toward this objective the company started looking outward and in 2019 launched a new partnership with the Waiheke Resources Trust.
EcoZip’s visitors are encouraged to add eco-sourced native trees to their online shopping basket. The target, says Gavin, is to double the number of native trees that the Waiheke Resources Trust plants annually. To help achieve this, EcoZip matches every tree donated by a client with a further locally sourced native. The donated trees are then planted by volunteers at sites across Waiheke. EcoZip also offers discounts on tours to encourage individuals and corporate groups to volunteer as tree planters.