The Wairarapa has businesses leading the way in making New Zealand a world class sustainable visitor destination following recent recognition by Qualmark New Zealand.

Destination Wairarapa general manager David Hancock says State Highway 2 has turned gold following recognition by Qualmark New Zealand, an independent organisation that assess businesses to ensure they offer the highest quality experiences to New Zealand visitors.

“Wairarapa continues to attract more visitors and Qualmark’s latest ratings show several of our operators are demonstrating exceptional sustainable tourism practises that deliver outstanding customer experiences and we are very proud of that.”

Three operators to be awarded the Gold Sustainable Tourism Business Award include: Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre and Tui Brewery both located on SH2 and Tranzit Group. They were evaluated on operational practises, environment and culture, social and people, and health and safety.

“When strong regional products like these are combined with our other attractions such as wine tourism, cycling, coastal landscapes and our towns and villages, it provides an even more compelling opportunity to encourage more traffic along SH2 and even more reasons for day or weekend trips out of Wellington or Palmerston North,” says Mr Hancock.

Gregg Anderson, General Manager of Qualmark New Zealand says Pukaha Mount Bruce and Tui Brewery are standout organisations in the region, with their innovative marketing programmes, commitment to community engagement, and understanding of the tourism sector.

“Tui Brewery has established a raft of initiatives that have encouraged year-round visitation particularly at weekends, and an ongoing commitment to address and improve freedom camping at Mangatainoka Reserve. Pukaha, similarly has taken innovative approaches to fundraising, conservation efforts and Iwi co-operation to assist with its programmes around regeneration of indigenous forest and birdlife,” he says.

“Working together with Destination Wairarapa and other local suppliers, these excellent sustainable businesses provide a real opportunity to increase international and domestic visitors on State Highway 2. The efforts combined with their strong business systems, a commitment to continuous improvement, and great Health and Safety programmes played a significant role in their achievement of Qualmark Gold Sustainable Business Awards.”

Emily Court, General Manager for Pukaha Mount Bruce, is thrilled with the award and says it reflects the hard work her team has put into conservation and sustainability kaupapa. She says it also follows another award, a Hall of Fame member, from Trip Advisor which means they’ve achieved a certificate of excellence on the travel website for five years running. She says having a “people’s choice” award sit alongside a quality industry award was especially fitting for Pukaha.

“Pukaha is a captive-breeding sanctuary for some of the country’s most threatened native birds, located in a pocket of ancient forest. It’s a highly educational experience for all that work here and for those who visit, but it is also great fun.”