Why care?

Those of us in the travel industry have a huge obligation to do whatever we can to protect the environment. The environment is our workplace, or home, our passion. It is the reason there is tourism in New Zealand.

Read on to find out how we minimize our environmental impacts, and manage what we can’t eliminate.

The moral and practical imperative to be socially and ecologically responsible is overwhelming. We owe it to ourselves and our future generations.

Why small group travel?

We at Black Sheep Touring Co. believe small group travel is the best compromise between flexible, personalized travel, and environmental responsibility.

When we conceived a small-group travel company more than 20 years ago, global warming was not even in the public consciousness. Back then, we believed small-group travel was the perfect solution to combining flexibility and personalized service with the enrichment and ease that travelling with a guide can bring. Being in a small group affords us the luxury of interacting with smaller communities, meeting locals, and utilizing small-scale low impact facilities.

It is now clear that small group travel also has great environmental sensitivity. The following graph compares the amount of carbon dioxide generated by various forms of tourism transport:

Kg of CO2 generated for one person travelling from Auckland to Queenstown by road:


  1. Black Sheep Tour Vehicle data based on 1999/94/EC standard and 7 people occupying the vehicle.
  2. Rental car and Campervan data based on the carboNZero Travel and
    Tourism emissions calculator, with two people occupying the vehicle. (http://www.carbonzero.co.nz/emissionscalc/tourismeditor.aspx)
  3. Coach figures based on the carboNZero Travel and Tourism emissions calculator, with a typical loading factor.
  4. Figures based on a total travelling distance of 1534 km (959 miles).

What to do about global warming?

Almost all human activity directly or indirectly produces gases responsible for global warming. This is unavoidable.

We can, however, greatly diminish the impact of our activities by minimizing the gases we generate, and then offsetting those that we cannot avoid generating.

Minimising production of global warming gases

Black Sheep minimizes production of greenhouse gases in the following ways:

  • Use of the latest, most efficient tour vehicles. All diesel tour vehicles comply with Euro IV emission standards. All petrol vehicles meet Euro V emission standards.
  • Vehicles are specified on an ‘appropriate size’ basis where we match the vehicle size to the tour requirements. We avoid using oversize vehicles wherever possible.
  • All office spaces are heated with a high efficiency heat pump, and lit with low energy bulbs.

Off-setting green house gases (GHG) produced

The GHG emitted due to air miles accrued during our tours are offset by purchasing carbon credits from Air NZ, the provider of the flights.

The GHG emitted due to land travel on our guided tours is offset by purchasing trees from the Trees for Travellers programme operated in Kaikoura. Not only does this offset the GHG produced by our land travel but it enhances the bio-diversity and beauty of our environment – the reason we are all here!


Additionally, to engage and encourage our travellers to offset their personal GHG travel contribution, we include a Trees for Travellers information packet in their tour documentation and encourage them to contribute to the scheme.

Environmental impact management – explore or exploit?

Tourism walks the tightrope between exploring and exploiting local conservation estate and culture. We cherish the splendid isolation and serenity New Zealand offers and yet diminish it each time we visit. Careful stewardship of our conservation land estate is critical for it’s sustainability.

In New Zealand, the Department of Conservation (www.doc.govt.nz) oversees this process through their Concessionaire programme. This programme controls the use of the conservation estate and ensures that impacts from the use of the land are minimized and kept within reasonable levels.

Black Sheep is proud to hold a Department of Conservation Concession (PAC 10-06-229).

Resource management – minimize…reuse…recycle

Black Sheep follows the minimize – reuse – recycle credo in managing the use of resources. This is manifested in the following ways:

  • Re-use of office consumables
  • Re-use of some drinking bottles
  • Re-use of office paper
  • Re-cycling of used paper products
  • Re-cycling of packaging
  • Use of plant based cleaning products in office and in guided tour vehicles
  • Composting of office food waste

Environmental care code – toitu te whenua

Black Sheep helps to protect the natural environment by following these guidelines:

  • Protect plants & wildlife
  • Leave what you find
  • Remove rubbish
  • Keep streams & lakes clean
  • Respect our cultural heritage
  • Keep to the track
  • Consider other people


Updated: 19 Nov 2018