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New Lonely Planet guide urges us to stay green

Tuesday 19th August, 2008

New Lonely Planet guide urges us to stay green

Lonely Planet's new edition New Zealand guidebook, released today, lavishes praise on the country's beauty, but urges New Zealand's tourism industry to protect its 'green' status.

The new guidebook says, "There are few countries on this lonely planet as diverse, unspoiled and utterly, utterly photogenic," and extols New Zealand's "outlandish scenery, fabulous festivals, superb food & wine, and magical outdoor experiences." (p. 17)

However the guidebook notes that while tourism numbers in New Zealand rise, so does the environmental cost, with extra visitors putting strain on the "clean, green environment NZ is renowned for." (p. 17). As a result, "the NZ tourism industry is embracing all things 'eco' while regionally, eateries and farmers markets selling local produce present sustainable options." (p. 17)

According to the guidebook's co-ordinating author, Charles Rawlings-Way, "For the first time, all the listings in Lonely Planet's New Zealand guidebook have been evaluated for their sustainability. The best of these have been combined into a 'GreenDex' - an index of all the tour, accommodation and eating choices that demonstrate an active sustainable tourism policy. We hope that this, and other similar initiatives, will encourage other operators to see that there's a clear financial advantage in operating an environmentally-responsible business."

The guidebook also strengthens its focus on sustainable Maori tourism, highlighting New Zealand's potent Maori culture: "This is a country that recognises and celebrates its indigenous people." (p. 17).

According to Rawlings-Way, "Our take is that grass-roots, small-scale Maori tourism operators give a more genuine experience for travellers and we've made a conscious effort to include more of them in the guide." The country's top 10 Maori experiences have also been nominated, including exploring the East Cape, taking a Footprints Waipoua tour, or attending the Kawhia Kai festival.

Although full of praise for New Zealand, the latest guide lives up to Lonely Planet's trademark honesty and opinion, and doesn't pull any punches.

Urban centres still get a good rap, with travellers encouraged to, "rock into Wellington for a big city hit" and experience its "red-hot arts scene." The guide says Auckland can "justifiably respond to its detractors, 'Don't hate me because I'm beautiful'". And Christchurch combines "an easy-going provincial charm with the emerging energy and verve of a metropolis."

The authors have embraced small-town New Zealand, such as "cute as a button" Naseby (p. 599), "best-kept secret" Opoutere (p. 210), and Takaka: "laid-back to near horizontal ... dreadlocked types rub shoulders with hardened farmers and crusty fishermen in equilibrium: the bike shop sells guitar strings; the pub serves chai." (p. 480)

However those found less than impressive include Gulf Harbour ("A Noddy town development of matching houses" p. 149), Dargaville ("you should know not to expect too much." p. 192), Pauanui ("an upmarket refugee camp for over-wealthy Aucklanders." p. 209) and Blenheim, which "doesn't offer much" (p. 445). The Bay of Islands, while "undeniably pretty" according to the guide, could also be "a teensy bit overhyped." (p. 165)

New Zealand's tackiest attractions have been nominated - from the faux Stonehenge in the Wairarapa (p. 429), to Cromwell's "spectacularly ugly giant fruit salad" (p. 595), and Napier's Pania of the Reef statue: "a little Maori and a lot Disney." (p. 383)

For the latest guide, Lonely Planet's team of five expert authors spent a total of 27 weeks on the road, or about 1,890 hours of research. During that time they personally visited thousands of hotels, restaurants, bars, galleries and towns. Lonely Planet authors are independent, and do not take freebies in exchange for positive coverage, so travellers can trust that their opinions are unsullied by commercial considerations.

The author team for this edition comprises 80% Kiwis. Contributions from expert New Zealand writers include Maori publishing expert John Huria on Maori culture, award-winning food writer Lauraine Jacobs on local cuisine, musician and author Gareth Shute on New Zealand's local music scene, Professor James Belich on history and Nandor Tanczos on environmental issues.

NOTES TO EDITORS:

* The authors of the guide are available for interview.

· A document outlining key quotes from the guidebook is available on request. A selection is below.

· New Zealand is one of Lonely Planet's highest-selling guidebooks globally. Now in its 14th edition, Lonely Planet has been publishing this definitive guide to Godzone for over 30 years.


WHAT LONELY PLANET SAYS ABOUT ...

AUCKLAND

".. the rest of the country loves to hate it, tut-tutting about its traffic snarls and the supposed self-obsession of the quarter of the country's population that call it home. With its many riches, Auckland can justifiably respond to its detractors, 'Don't hate me because I'm beautiful'." (p. 97)

BAY OF ISLANDS

"Undeniably pretty ... The reality is that NZ has many beautiful spots and this bay, while wonderful, could be a teensy bit overhyped." (p. 165)

BLENHEIM

"Blenheim doesn't offer much to enthral or distract, but you must come here to check out the sensational Marlborough Wine Region." (p. 445)

BLUFF

"Unimpressive little Bluff is Invercargill's port, 27km south of the city. Really, the main reasons to come here are to catch the ferry to Stewart Island, pose for photos beside the Stirling Point signpost or buy some of the famous Bluff oysters straight from the wharf." (p. 667)

CHRISTCHURCH

"Christchurch is undoubtedly one of New Zealand's most liveable cities, combining an easy-going provincial charm with the emerging energy and verve of a metropoplis. Modern bars and restaurants complement Gothic architecture, and locals know how lucky they are to blend all the attractions of a city with the relaxed ambience of a small town." (p. 522)

CLYDE

"Despite a recent influx of retirees (or perhaps because of them) Clyde retains a friendly, small-town feel, even when holidaymakers arrive in numbers over summer, and is a great place to chill out for a couple of days." (p. 596)

COROMANDEL TOWN

"Even more crammed with heritage buildings than Thames, Coromandel Town is a thoroughly quaint little place. Its natty cafés, excellent sleeping options and delicious smoked mussels could keep you here longer than you expected." (p. 201)

CROMWELL

"There's a couple of really good reasons to visit Cromwell: the sweet little historic precinct near the lake, and to eat (and eat, and eat) ... Oh, and a third reason: take a photo of yourself beside the spectacularly ugly giant fruit salad at the entrance to town." (p. 595)

DARGAVILLE

"When a town proclaims itself the 'kumara capital of NZ' ... you should know not to expect too much." (p. 192)

DUNEDIN

"Nestled at the end of Otago Harbour, Dunedin captures the hearts of locals and travellers alike. It's a surprisingly artsy town, and has more great bars and eateries than its small size deserves." (p. 578)

EAST CAPE

"Nowhere else in NZ is remotely like the gorgeous, detached East Cape. Maori community life is at the forefront here, with each stunning bay hiding a remote marae and village." (p. 363)

GISBORNE

"Gizzy to her friends, Gisborne's a pretty thing and increasingly self-confident. Squeezed between surf beaches and a sea of chardonnay, most Kiwis would describe the lifestyle here as 'not bad' - meaning, of course, bloody brilliant." (p. 368)

GLENORCHY

"Set in achingly beautiful surroundings, postage- stamp-sized Glenorchy is the perfect low-key antidote to the hype and bustle of Queenstown." (p. 631)

GORE

"Poor old Gore cops an unfair hammering due to its claim to be NZ's 'home of country music'. Unfair, because the annual Gold Guitar festival, a 10-day country-music festival during which the town is booked out, is really the only time of the year that there's anything going on in Gore at all." (p. 668)

HAMILTON

"Perhaps it's a sign of the rising fortunes of Waikato farmers that the city's main street has sprouted a sophisticated and vibrant stretch of bars and eateries that - on the weekend at least - leave Auckland's Viaduct Harbour for dead in the boozy fun stakes." (p. 219)

HAWKES BAY

"The southern edge of the bay is a cable TV lifestyle channel come to life - food, wine and architecture are the shared obsessions. It's smugly comfortable but thoroughly appealing, and is best viewed through a rosé-tinted wine glass." (p. 376)

INVERCARGILL

"Flat and suburban, with endlessly treeless streets, Invercargill certainly isn't going to blow your senses if you came here via the Catlins or Fiordland." (p. 663)

KAITAIA

"Nobody comes to the Far North to hang out in this provincial town." (p. 185)

NAPIER

"You don't have to be particularly cultured to enjoy Napier but you might find its passion for architecture and fine wine surprisingly contagious. Before long you'll be blathering on about the Chicago School, Mayan decorative devices and 'hints of passionfruit on the palate' with the best of them." (p. 381)

NASEBY

"Cute as a button, surrounded by forest and dotted with 19th-century stone buildings, little old Naseby is the kind of small town where life moves slowly. That the town is pleasantly obsessed with the fairly insignificant world of NZ curling indicates there's not much else going on." (p. 599)

NELSON

"An alternate- lifestyle epicentre, Nelson's streets are dotted with beautiful Victorian houses, many of which contain Buddhist centres, naturopaths, yoga studios and galleries. Artsy, dreadlocked wanderers mooch between cafés and coffee-carts, ducking into the Bridge St bars or poetry readings in bookshops." (p. 459)

NORTHLAND

"For many New Zealanders, the phrase 'up north' conjures up sepia-toned images of fun in the sun, pohutukawa in bloom and dolphins frolicking in pretty bays. It's uttered in almost hallowed tones, as if describing a mythical place." (p. 155)

OPOUTERE

"File this one under best-kept secrets. Maybe it's a local conspiracy to keep at bay the hordes of Aucklanders that seasonally invade Pauanui and Whangamata, as this unspoilt long sandy expanse has been kept very quiet." (p. 210)

OREWA

"Locals have fears that Orewa is turning into NZ's equivalent of Queensland's Gold Coast, but until they start exporting retirees and replacing them with bikini-clad parking wardens that's unlikely to happen." (p. 149)

PALMERSTON NORTH

"'Palmy' has an open-minded, rurally bookish vibe." (p. 281)

QUEENSTOWN

"If Queenstown didn't exist, someone would have to invent it. With a cinematic background of mountains and lakes you actually have seen in the movies, and a 'what can we think of next?' array of adventure activities, it's little wonder that the South Island's premier tourist town tops many travellers' Kiwi itineraries." (p. 609)

ROTORUA

"Here the daily business of life goes on among steaming hot springs, explosive geysers, bubbling mud pools, and the clouds of sulphurous gas responsible for its unique eggy smell." (p. 321)

SOUTHLAND

"Southland has the kind of New Zealand scenery that travellers dream of and postcards fail to capture. More than once, you're likely to round a corner, stop in your tracks and just say 'oh, wow' before you reach for the camera." (p. 645)

TARANAKI

"Taranaki has a glut of black-sand beaches, and the summer months see the region swell as a wave of surfers and holidaymakers hit the coast. As for the rest of the year, there's plenty to see and places to visit - as long as you're as laid back as the locals." (p.244)

TAURANGA

"Tauranga is the place to fulfil all your wet dreams. With two marinas chock-a-block with beautiful boats, sandy surf beaches and water sports aplenty, this is about as Riviera as NZ gets." (p. 341)

TWIZEL

"Mt Cook is just 63km down the road, and Twizel's range of affordable accommodation and a few good eateries make it a good alternative to staying in more expensive Mt Cook Village. Twizel as a travellers' nirvana. Who would have thought?" (p. 569)

WANAKA

"It's definitely not a sleepy hamlet anymore though, and new restaurants and bars are adding a veneer of sophistication." (p. 635)

WANGANUI

"Like any port there's an edgy transience to the town, as if it's not sure what might come up or down the river next. Settle into Victoria Ave's top-notch restaurants and hip bars while you wait to find out." (p. 269)

WELLINGTON

"NZ's capital city manages to strike a balance between creative exuberance and an institutional mindset crucial to the day-to-day running of the country. The city is neither altogether bohemian, nor overloaded with bureaucratic stuffed shirts." (p. 398)

WEST COAST

"What a difference a mountain range makes. Hemmed in by the wild Tasman Sea and the peaks of the Southern Alps, the West Coast (aka Westland), is like nowhere else in New Zealand." (p. 486)

WHANGAREI

"On the pretty-to-ugly continuum Whangarei is somewhere in the middle. But beauty is never far away ... You may be pleasantly surprised by the interesting choice of eateries and the general 'going off'-ness of the bars on a Saturday night." (p. 159)

-ENDS-


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