Style: May 03, 2019

StarMedia.Digital

22 STYLE | report Go Orange reimagined Milford Sound cruising with the refit of the Milford Haven to install luxe velvet seating that faces the action (i.e. outwards), AstroTurf flooring, unobstructed 360-degree views from the top deck, and a rooftop bar complete with exclusively brewed XPA and beanbags. ENDURING VALUES “I’m particularly proud of the way the firm has continued to be run along the lines of Les’s visionary values and dedication to conservation,” says Lady Hutchins. “Conservation is still in our hearts as an organisation,” agrees Richard Lauder, adding people want to work for Real Journeys because of the founding values that perpetuate within the group, and that many staff share Les and Olive’s lifelong passion to protect New Zealand’s remarkable environment. After being a leader of the momentous Save Manapouri Campaign to fight the proposed raising of Lakes Te Anau and Manapouri for power generation, in 1973 Les was named one of the founding Guardians of the Lakes and held that position for 26 years. He was also a founding patron of the New Zealand National Parks and Conservation Foundation. “Conservation is good for tourism and tourism can be good for conservation. We are now doing more conservation work than ever before,” says Lady Hutchins. The Leslie Hutchins Conservation Foundation, set up in 1994, contributes more than $60,000 a year to dolphin research, endangered birds protection programmes, track and interpretation signage, outdoor education camps and wilding pine eradication. Additionally, Real Journeys reinvests profits into a flagship project with the Department of Conservation to eradicate predators on Cooper Island in Dusky Sound and is working on a large-scale land restoration project at Walter Peak. It is actively reducing its environmental impact and carbon footprint (“We just got rid of 300,000 takeaway coffee cups,” says Lauder), has begun investing in an electric vehicle fleet and is encouraging the development of a local hydrogen supplier to fuel its coaches and ships within, hopefully, 10 years. Lauder believes more tourism operators will step up to take a leading role in protecting what effectively is their golden goose as visitor numbers head towards five million a year. How would Sir Les feel about those numbers, which must have been inconceivable in 1954 when international visitor arrivals tallied a mere 100,000? Lady Hutchins refers to a famous 1998 quote of his: "Today I am more convinced than ever before that conservation is the real cornerstone of New Zealand's tourism industry. Tourism and conservation need each other for mutual survival and the right direction to go is to take more notice of conservation issues not less."

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