The awards, presented by Tourism Industry Aotearoa, showcase and celebrate the very best of New Zealand tourism’s individual and business successes.
As well as taking out the top award, Zealandia also won the category of the Airbnb Tourism Excellence Award (Small-Medium Business).
The Wellington not-for-profit organisation is the world’s first fully fenced urban ecosanctuary, with an extraordinary 500-year vision to restore the valley’s forest and freshwater ecosystems. It connects people with Aotearoa New Zealand’s unique natural heritage and inspires actions that transform how people live with nature in our cities, towns and beyond.
“We feel honoured to receive these awards,” says Zealandia Chief Executive Dr Danielle Shanahan.
“The awards belong to the thousands of volunteers and staff who, over the years, have transformed the skies of Wellington from silence to the cacophony of bird song we hear today. It shows that regenerative tourism is more than just a dream, and that visitors can support globally leading environment and community outcomes like those created by our small not-for-profit.”
The award recognises the outstanding regenerative approach to tourism that Zealandia Te Māra a Tāne embraces. The sanctuary has deep community support with hundreds of volunteers and thousands of members. It delivers world-class learning experiences for youth and has transformed the birdlife of Wellington. Because of Zealandia, Wellington is now one of the only cities in the world where bird biodiversity is on the rise.
Only minutes from the centre of the city, Zealandia has nearly 140,000 visitors annually who can get up close with rare and endangered taonga/treasures who are normally found on offshore islands. Visitors can experience vulnerable native species such as tīeke, little spotted kiwi, and tuatara living wild just 2km from downtown Wellington.
None of this would be possible without the charity’s community of volunteers, supporters and advocates.
“To even be considered for these awards is a huge achievement for us, and a testament to the mahi and dedication of our amazing team, visitors, partners, mana whenua Te Ātiawa, Taranaki Whānui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika and Ngāti Toa Rangatira, and supporters who have made this recognition possible,” Dr Shanahan says.
“We would also like to congratulate our fellow nominees and finalists. The awards night showcased the magic of New Zealand tourism. We dare to do things differently in Aotearoa, and last night it was clear that tourism can uplift communities and our environment, rather than taking away from them.”
The Airbnb Tourism Excellence Award recognises a small-medium tourism business that has the wellbeing of communities at its heart, is representative of our culture and values, has an excellent visitor experience at its core, it nurtures the natural environment and is brought to life by a profitable enterprise that shows a high level of responsibility. It was one of several award categories in 2023.
Winners were announced in person at an awards gala dinner last night (7 November) in Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington.
Help Zealandia to continue its work in protecting and advocating for nature and educating and inspiring future generations by becoming a member or making a donation at donate.visitzealandia.com.
Information about Zealandia:
• Zealandia Te Māra a Tāne is a not-for-profit organisation. Zealandia is the world’s first fully-fenced urban ecosanctuary, with an extraordinary 500-year vision to restore a Wellington valley’s forest and freshwater ecosystems.
• The 225-hectare (500+ acre) ecosanctuary is a ground-breaking conservation project that has reintroduced more than 20 species of native animals back into the area, some of which were previously absent from mainland New Zealand for over 100 years.
• Designed to keep out mammalian predators, Zealandia’s 8.6km fence that surrounds the sanctuary was the first of its kind and now birds such as the tūī, kākā and kererū, once extremely rare in the region, are all now common sights around central Wellington. Other vulnerable native species such as tīeke, little spotted kiwi, and tuatara remain thriving safely in the sanctuary.
• Only minutes from the centre of the city, Zealandia Te Māra a Tāne has nearly 140,000 visitors annually who can get up close with rare and endangered taonga/treasures who are normally found on off-shore islands.