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Case study: Wairere Boulders Nature Park

This case study has been authored as part of the Northland Sustainable Tourism Project. It sets out Wairere Boulders Nature Park’s perspectives of their experiences and the resources they dedicated to the process.

1. Business background

Business type

Geological attraction

Photo of the Wairere Boulders viewing platform and its view down the valley. Main products

Eco-tourism boulder encounter

Number of staff

Two owners

Number of sites you operate from

One — Horeke, Hokianga Harbour

How long has your company been in business?

Since 2002

What are your main markets?

Domestic and international visitors of all ages

What factors affect the success of your business?

The key factors that affect Wairere Boulders are:

  • roading
  • weather
  • publicity and media coverage
  • personal energy
  • Internet speed.

2. Sustainable business practices

What does sustainability mean to your business?

Sustainability has been a life long commitment for the two owners of Wairere Boulders, and has been focused on the environment. It also now means that sustainability includes the business.

What sustainable business practices was your company using before being involved in this project?

Due to the life long commitment to sustainability, Wairere Boulders had a significant number of key actions and initiatives in place including:

  • preservation of 80 ha of native bush, to help offset carbon use for friends visitors and ourselves
  • preservation and protection of the local environment evident from current practices (eg, weed and pest control and planting programmes)
  • proactive approach to community engagement, supporting local schools
  • actively segregating waste streams
  • integrating environmental considerations into purchasing decisions (eg, cleaning products)
  • excellent visitor information, through face-to-face contact, website, and labelling of native trees.

What was involved for your company in the project?

Our business examined and monitored its activities from the Triple Bottom Line perspective. The Northland Sustainable Tourism Charter provided focus.

The process focused on issues like minimising waste, preserving nature, good communication with employees and fair social treatment, while still thinking about the financial bottom line.

This process requires personal honesty and some in-depth thinking on how to implement good actions, such as above. This needs time and energy.

Where did the motivation come from to become involved in this project?

Sustainability and protection of the environment has been the goal of the owners since arriving from Switzerland in 1983. This background, coupled with personal curiosity, the opportunity to gain exposure for the business and to spur other businesses in the right direction, led to Wairere Boulders becoming involved.

Who has been involved in the project to date and why?

Both owners were involved in all decisions and at all stages of the project.

How much time did your business spend on this initiative?

Over six hours were spent preparing for the High Level Assessment.

The on-site assessment needed one day.

Additional time has been spent preparing the Action Plan and talking to other businesses about the project.

What steps has your company implemented since the start of the project?

Since the start of the project we have:

  • completed a High Level Sustainability Assessment, which provided a basis for identifying key sustainability issues and opportunities for our business
  • conducted a review of the detailed Sustainability Assessment prepared for us, and developed an Action Plan, which reflects our immediate, medium and longer term commitments to further enhance our sustainability performance.

How do you see your company maintaining its commitment to the process started by this project?

Wairere Boulders will maintain its commitment to sustainability as it always has — through personal conviction, dedication, passion and energy.

3. Commitments to sustainability

The Action Plan included a Statement of Intent, which set out the steps we have committed to take in support of the Northland Tourism Charter over the immediate, medium and long term. In summary, these are:

Commitments to the environment

  • Share the process and key outcomes of the sustainability project with other small to medium enterprises
  • Build on existing initiatives to incorporate environmental criteria into purchasing and supply decisions
  • Ensure existing facilities for wastewater management remain adequate as visitor numbers increase
  • Encourage visitors to offset their carbon dioxide travel footprint through involvement in native forest restoration projects
  • When making any future landscaping decisions, choose plants that require minimal or no water, pesticides, fertilisers and herbicides
  • Seek to ensure visitor numbers are maintained at a sustainable level

Commitments to our community

  • Ensure the community is kept informed of sustainability initiatives and any planned future developments relating to Wairere Boulders
  • Support the local community through ongoing communication, information exchange and promotion
  • Continue to implement initiatives to preserve local history

Commitments to the company

  • Owner/Operator commitment to programme in personal holiday time

4. Advice to others

What advice would you give to other businesses interested in becoming involved in a similar type of initiative?

  • Be realistic
  • Make sure you allow for enough time
  • The process is ongoing and becomes a strategy for your business’ fine tuning.

5. Benefits of being in the project

The benefits for Wairere Boulders were not so much in the areas of specific tools but more in terms of the following:

  • improved understanding
  • exposure
  • new contacts.

6. Roadblocks to sustainability

There were a number of challenges in the project including:

  • grasping the language of sustainability
  • getting to terms with the difference between theory and practice
  • travelling distances to project meetings.

Contact details

Organisation: Wairere Boulders Nature Park

Contact persons: Felix or Rita Schaad

Address postal: RD 1 Okaihau 0455

Address physical: 70 McDonnell Road, Horeke, Hokianga Harbour

Phone: (09) 401 9935

Email: felix@wairereboulders.co.nz

Web: www.wairereboulders.co.nz

 

Other case studies:
Dive! Tutukaka
| Fullers Bay of Islands | Matakohe Top Ten Holiday Park | Waitangi Treaty Grounds

Last updated: 5 October 2005