Keeping the environment clean and as green as possible has become part of the New Zealand psyche. The Maori people have for centuries regarded themselves as the kaitiaki or caretakers of the land. The principle of looking after the land is not lost on New Zealand tourism operators.
Elm Wildlife Tours, based on the Otago Peninsula, quietly goes about its work, showcasing the natural beauty of the Otago area, paying particular attention to the unique and rare yellow eyed penguin, as well as blue penguins and sea lions.
Elm strives to maintain the environment that it works in, by ensuring that the impact it has on the habitat of the creatures it takes tourists to is minimal. Elm has created structures that are unobtrusive and walkways designed to protect the sensitive sand dunes areas that are crossed when conducting its tours.
Elm has taken further steps towards protecting the world’s rarest penguin (the yellow eyed) and its terrestrial environment by enhancing habitat, nest site creation and predator control programmes.
The company has also established and financially funded a project to rejuvenate the yellow eyed penguin population. This is one of only two privately funded conservation projects in New Zealand, and has had a significant effect on the growth of the rare penguin population.
Brian Templeton of Elm Wildlife Tours has stated, ''You only need to look at the figures to see the impact we are having on the growth of the Yellow Eyed Penguin population.'' The impact he says is good for both the penguins and the people who visit them. ''Clients get a real buzz seeing the penguins and knowing that they (the clients) are in a small way aiding their survival, by using us.''