We generally prefer to choose our own itinerary when travelling rather than going on organised group tours. However, group tours are sometimes the best (or only) choice. Yesterday was an example.
When we were planning this trip I decided that I would like to go to Cape Farewell, the northernmost point of the South Island in New Zealand and the adjacent sand spit. We chose to stay here at Pohara on Golden Bay. I checked out options for seeing the area and found that while individuals could take private vehicles to the base of the spit (about 30 km in length), the only way to go out along the spit and see the lighthouse was to join an organised tour.
Farewell Spit Eco-Tours have been doing these tours for 60 years and we were lucky to go with John who has been doing these tours for about 25 years. His knowledge of the geology, history and birds of the local area was amazing and he was an entertaining guide also.
So, what is an eco-tour? My idea is one where due care is taken of the fragile environment which we are visiting as well as respect for the history. This certainly fulfilled my criteria and we even travelled in a recycled vehicle.
This coach was originally a ‘crash truck’ for the New Zealand airforce. It has undergone numerous re-incarnations over a period of more than 50 years and was a satisfactory and fun transport for our tour. Rather than spruik the wonders of the latest and greatest fleet of ‘state-of-the-art’ coaches, John was very proud to tell us of the history of the vehicle.
When we reached the lighthouse precinct we were treated to a delicious afternoon tea of tea, coffee and muffins at one of the lighthouse keeper’s cottages. Catering is the area where so many supposedly ‘eco’ events fail but not so here. The coffee was served from plungers in china mugs, the muffins were most definitely home-made and once we had finished, everything was packed back into the boxes to be brought back on the bus for washing and replenishment.
It was great to see recycling and eco-tourism in action.