Why and how?
After an almost thirty-hour flight, I told myself that I should reduce my ecological impact a little and therefore be careful. Let me give you some context, mate. I made the choice, a few weeks ago, to go with Monsieur to New Zealand to take a tour of the South Island. We had about a month of vacation and I, for one, had a great desire to go elsewhere. Really, it itched. So, I convinced Monsieur by attracting him with photos of magnificent mountains and decors from the Lord of the Rings. No need to say that my plan worked rather well. My big concern was that it takes 30 hours to get there from the Netherlands. 30 hours spent on a plane that pollutes more than you would do by staying quietly at home for two years. If you are like me and do not touch the steering wheel of a car unless you are forced to do so. Or almost. And if you are wondering, I did the math and it hurts!
So, once we arrived in New Zealand, we thought that we should not do any more damage. Therefore, together with Monsieur, we have chosen to go around the island by bus rather than by rental car as many do. The bus certainly has an impact, but since it is a sort of public transports, the impact was not that terrible. We also figured that it would be nice to possibly chat a little and to know more about the country and the regions we were going to cross. You will however agree with me, I think, that transport is not the only enemy of the planet when you go on a journey. The activities are just as much of a threat. Which is a shame when we hear most travelers who leave to discover beautiful landscapes and get closer to nature.
And here comes the epiphany
Here is a transition that I am a bit proud of to talk about I wanted to discuss with you today, mate. Activities. When Monsieur and I were at Franz Josef, this observation struck us head on. We had an extremely pleasant hike which would lead us to the foot of the Franz Josef glacier. Really, we didn’t want to miss this, and it didn’t matter if we had to climb, put our shoes in the water or cross bridges made of ropes and wood hanging over the void. This hike has certainly left me with the most vivid memories. My point here is that during this hike, we constantly heard helicopters going back and forth every five to ten minutes with tourists who absolutely wanted to spend twenty minutes on the glacier. Before it melts you know. It is quite sad when you think about it. The glacier is threatened by global warming and pollution, so hurry up, take a helicopter to see it quickly and take a photo which will then go on social networks. I know that you can find me condescending but let’s be honest, I am quite bitter when I think about it.
So, I am asking you today, why would people pay fortunes to pollute even more with activities more and more extremes. One of the travelers sitting in front of me in the bus said he had booked more than a thousand dollars worth of activities in one day. I thought I was fainting. There are plenty of possibilities that require little or no human intervention. During that month while we were travelling with Monsieur for example, we mostly hiked. I really felt close to nature and highly active. It felt so good! The only two days we didn’t use our feet, we went kayaking and, another day, we went canyoning. Both require a little equipment and, for canyoning, adjustments along the way. You must be aware of this and not pretend we are flawless. All human activity has an impact. The whole thing is to do your best to lessen it. And if the 1.4 billion tourists (according to the UNWTO in 2018) made this gesture, we would be taking a big step forward.
But then, how can you have fun and be careful at the same time? This question seems perfectly legit to me and I can only answer it with my humble opinion, which is most certainly wrong.
Prefers non-engine based activities
As I mentioned earlier, kayaking can be a good example. If you want to leave nature as it is, without impact, activities requiring no engine are a great way to have fun, discover new sensations, while being closer to nature. We were able to get closer to baby seals in Abel Tasman. Not too close. We did not want to scare them but that scene was just so cute!
Do not be afraid of sweating
Whether you normally like to work out or not, I assure you that sports activities are a great way to have fun and discover a new place at the same time. Two birds with one stone! Take hiking for example, you will have a feeling of discovery and will find yourself facing sublime landscapes depending on the location. Do not hesitate to do some research to know the marked trails and levels if that can reassure you. For example, I have planned several hikes in New Zealand by going to the 100% Pure New Zealand site.
Pick up ALL your trash
You would say that goes without saying, right? And yet I can assure you if the wind blows a bit, many people won’t get up to grab their bag of crisps or their tissue. Please do get up.
Compensate once you are back home
What is she talking about you wonder? I understand. Know that there are sites allowing you to calculate your carbon footprint over the year or for a trip and to give the equivalent in money (euros in my case) to associations acting for the environment. Monsieur and I will (as soon as the salary falls) give via the GoodPlanet site that Yann Arthus-Bertrand supports but there is also the GreenTipper site.
And of course, talk about it as soon as you get home. Nobody has bad intention, for sure. Just explain it nicely. And now, I will stop rambling.