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Sustainable Tourism
Eco tours to the Māori Rock Carving on Lake Taupō

Maori Rock Carving
Maori Rock Carving | © Jordan Bryant

In 1976 it took five carvers five years to create the 14 metre high Māori rock carving in Mine Bay on Lake Taupō. Fast forward to today and it’s one of the most iconic pieces of Māori artwork in New Zealand.
 

By Jordan Bryant

Not that they knew (or planned) their artwork was going to become a popular tourist attraction.

The lead carver, Matahi Brightwell was simply helping out his Grandmother Te Huatahi Susie Gilbert who wanted the face of one of her ancestors carved somewhere so the family would always be connected to the land.

But as with anything that gains popularity, new business opportunities are created and that’s the case with people wanting to see the Mine Bay carving. You can only see the carvings from the lake so the majority of people visit via a boat of some description. And with at least four companies offering daily trips out to Mine Bay, that’s all adds up to a lot of possible pollutants going into in one of New Zealand’s most precious water sources.

That’s where Peter Battell, the owner of Sail Barbary, aims to make a difference with his tour offering to Mine Bay. Founded in 2011, Peter has one of his two vessels as close to zero carbon emissions as he can feasibly get it, and has plans to do the same with the other when time and money allows.

It’s companies like these that are leading the way to helping New Zealand tourism operators across the country to decrease their environmental footprint.

Peter operates charter boat and a sailboat tours to Mine Bay.

At the time of writing the charter boat does run on diesel as its primary fuel source, but Peter is making it a priority to switch this to an electric engine when he can. And while he’ll still need to have the diesel engine on board in case the electric engine fails.

But, the sail boat trips are running with zero emissions thanks to the electric engine and it’s noticeable when you’re onboard. Peter and his crew (Peter still captains the tours) do care about Lake Taupō, and are a bounty of knowledge about the area and where it’s most vulnerable. As they talk about the lake, you can tell they care about Lake Taupō as though it’s their child.

When Peter refers to zero emissions for his sail boat tours, he is referring to three areas: 

  • No noise. The only noise you’ll hear are the gentle lapping of the waves hitting the side of the yacht. And the noise of other boats in the distance...they may be going faster, but can’t be as relaxing.
  • No fumes. No much more needs to be said about this one.
  • No pollution. And of course, no pollutants are entering the yacht from Sail Barbary as the backup power source are oars.
  • Lake Taupō - Sailing on the emission-free yacht is so, so peaceful. © Jordan Bryant
    Sailing on the emission-free yacht is so, so peaceful.
  • Sail Barbary Yacht - Whenever there's a slight breeze about Sail Barbary will use the wind for propulsion, only reverting to the electric engine when really required. © Jordan Bryant
    Whenever there's a slight breeze about Sail Barbary will use the wind for propulsion, only reverting to the electric engine when really required.
  • Sail Barbary Yacht - On the cruises, Sail Barbary aim to limit the tours to 18-guests to ensure everyone is comfortable on the yacht. © Jordan Bryant
    On the cruises, Sail Barbary aim to limit the tours to 18-guests to ensure everyone is comfortable on the yacht.
  • Maori Rock Carving - The 14-metre high carving in Mine Bay, as you're viewing the carving the tours guides give you a lot of context to grasp the significance of the carving © Jordan Bryant
    The 14-metre high carving in Mine Bay, as you're viewing the carving the tours guides give you a lot of context to grasp the significance of the carving
  • Sail Barbary Yacht in Marina - The electric charging station is based at the dock, and the yacht is recharged overnight. © Jordan Bryant
    Sail Barbary Yacht in the Marina - The electric charging station is based at the dock, and the yacht is recharged overnight.
Anytime pollutants enter Lake Taupō, the lakes ecosystem is at risk and if any disease were to start spreading across the lake, the effects are enormous. There was a preview of this in 2017 when nitrogen from nearby farms ran into the lake and algae bloom formed. As a result the public were notified of the risks and there was a noticeable drop in tourism numbers for Peter, and his competitors for a few months.

Lake Taupō is one of the nations most treasured pieces of water and seeing it’s water quality remain high is vital. Will you support the business looking to ensure they create zero emissions, or at least showing they’re doing their best, or the company that wants to maximise profits?

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