Stewart Island Experience is closely involved with community conservation activities on Stewart Island, and actively supports Department of Conservation (DOC) efforts.
In 2007, Real Journeys (including Stewart Island Experience subsidiary) won the Department of Conservation NZ industry award of "Conservation in Action".
Conservation initiatives are an integral part of our overall strategic plan and day-to-day operations. Funding for these activities is taken into account when establishing budgets. Industry recognition of these efforts includes the Qualmark Enviro-Silver status.
Below are the specific conservation activities relating to Stewart Island:
Best environmental practice
Stewart Island Experience is constantly seeking new ways to minimise our environmental impact. In this regard, many of our new initiatives are initially proposed by staff.
- All vessels are maintained to the highest international standards via our Safe Ship Management Systems.
- Since October 2006, we have increased fuel efficiency on our ferries by 5 – 6% by using a new non-toxic silicon-based anti-fouling product on vessel hulls. New generation “Tiger” propellers have further increased fuel efficiency on the Foveaux Express ferry by 6 – 7%. The same type of propellers were fitted to the Southern Express in mid 2007.
- Any rubbish resulting from our island-based operations is recycled and returned to the mainland.
- Staff act as “guardians” of the terminal facilities and surrounding harbour environment at Stewart Island and Bluff, monitoring the activities of all users to ensure these areas remain protected.
- The provision of improved drinking water on ferries has reduced the consumption of bottled water.
- A recent upgrade of vehicles on the island and at Bluff has increased fuel efficiency and reduced emissions.
- Little Blue Penguin and Sooty Shearwater Habitat Restoration Support
This summer, $5 from each booking onto the Stewart Island Evening Guided Walks has been donated to the Stewart Island/ Rakiura Community Environment Trust. The Trust is carrying out extensive rat and possum trapping work to help protect the island’s native birdlife including the Titi/Sooty Shearwater population.
Stewart Island Experience has also funded one of the pest control lines in the Ackers Point monitoring area and a second “anti re-infection line” around the outside of the Dancing Star Foundation’s predator fence at Lee Bay.
- Harlequin Gecko
Real Journeys has contributed $40,000 over the past 5 years to assist DOC in studying the rare Stewart Island Harlequin Gecko. During 2010 and 2011 a further $4000 will be donated. The Harlequin Gecko only became known to science in 1981 and is one of the world’s most endangered lizards.
- Real Journeys provides sponsorship for the Department of Conservation’s Southland Conservancy Conservation Awards and for Environment Southland’s Conservation Awards.
- Free transport of materials and workers is provided for SIRCET (Stewart Island / Rakiura Community & Environment Trust), and staff participate in work days.
- Heavily discounted ferry fares are made available to scientific and conservation groups (for example, Otago University Botany Department, Department of Conservation’s Conservation Corps).
Encouraging passenger participation and environmental awareness
- Prior to disembarking at Stewart Island, ferry passengers are briefed on the importance of preserving the island’s natural heritage and the need to conserve water and electricity, and to recycle any rubbish they produce.