Murihiku Southland Sustainable Tourism Programme

Take your small to medium sized business on a 12- week sustainability journey. Alongside industry professionals, learn how to appeal to visitors wanting to reduce their carbon footprint and have a positive impact on the communities they experience.

New application closing date - Tuesday 21 March!

About the programme

Working alongside a small group of other tourism operators, the 12-week programme will offer workshop sessions as well as one-on-one support, featured guest speakers, operator case studies, practical resources, marketing advice and accreditation pathways.

Each business will leave the programme with their own carbon measurement and reduction strategy, a sustainability plan, and a network of tourism operators sharing the sustainability journey.

Guest speakers

Megan Williams - Tourism Industry Aotearoa

As the Tourism Industry Aotearoa (TIA) Sustainability Advocate, Megan’s role is to champion and assist the industry to work towards a more regenerative tourism system by transitioning to a lower carbon future and ensuring that tourism benefits New Zealand Communities. Megan will be talking about the Tourism Sustainability Commitment and will share her insights into the current sustainability trends within the tourism industry.

Paul Button - Rotorua Canopy Tours 

Awarded by Trip Advisor ‘World’s Best Nature Experience’, Rotorua Canopy Tours is more than just zip lining. It aims to combine adventure, education, conservation, and natural beauty to create an experience like no other. Paul will share the company's inspirational journey. The environmental impact of the business has gone well beyond where they ever imagined, restoring a once silent piece of forest into a place brimming with life and a committed staff passionate about what they do.

Prashant Kim - Toitū Envirocare 

Spending much of his youth travelling to Central Otago and the Southern Lakes snowboarding and fishing, Prashant comes well-equipped with a Bachelor of Tourism and Commerce. Prashant was the Accommodation Manager at The Headwaters Lodge in Glenorchy, the world’s first Net Positive Energy accommodation. Now as Toitū Envirocare’s Business Development Manager, Prashant will be sharing how Toitū Envirocare can support your business towards a zero-carbon accredited future.  

Phil McCarthy - McCarthy Media

McCarthy Media and Communications is the work of Sarah and Phil McCarthy whose goal is to share the stories of others and to help you share yours. Phil will be joining us on the programme to run a practical session on how to draw out your businesses story, know your audience, and show how sharing your sustainability journey can help draw more clients to your business along the way.  

Who is it for?

  • Small and medium-sized Southland tourism businesses (up to 20 staff). Tourism businesses include hospitality businesses that cater to the visitor market
  • not-for-profit tourism organisations
  • attendees should be the key decision makers in the organisation or business, for example - owner, manager, or sustainability lead

What’s included?

  • Four in-person workshops*  
  • Two one-on-one sessions for each participating organisation. A third will be available on request  
  • Access to expert advice 
  • Learn how to measure carbon emissions and how to gain carbon certification 
  • Support to create your own individual sustainability plan
  • Support to market your sustainability story and be part of wider regional marketing
  • Practical resources and templates 
  • Guest speakers, including Tourism Industry Aotearoa, Toitū Envirocare, McCarthy Media, Paul Button from Rotorua Canopy Tours, Fiona Lee from Wild Fiordland and other tourism businesses working in this area
  • Ongoing support and networking opportunities 
  • Awards ceremony to conclude the programme

*A maximum of 2 people per organisation can attend the in-person workshops.

Number of participants

Only 10 participants will be accepted on to the programme.

Time commitment

12-week programme, 12 April – 30 June 2023

An awards ceremony will be held in late June.

Investment required

$500 + GST per business

Application process

As spaces on the programme are limited to 10 businesses, we would like to ensure that there is equal opportunity for region-wide representation and a cross-section of operators from different types of tourism business.  All applicants will receive a follow-up phone call.

Applications close 5pm, Friday 17 March and successful applicants will be notified no later than 5pm, Monday 3 April 2023. 

To apply to for this programme, please complete the form at this link:


Great South has a role to educate, encourage and support Murihiku Southland tourism operators on their journey towards sustainability. As well as helping Southland achieve net zero carbon goals by 2050, this approach will make the region more attractive to visitors who want to reduce their carbon footprint and will also deliver positive outcomes for these visitors and their host communities.

The demand for sustainable travel options continues to grow and the programme aims to support operators in our region to meet this need, while also minimising their impact.

The pilot Murihiku Sustainable Tourism Programme was held in 2022.

Feedback from past participants

I initially signed up for the programme to establish what our company's carbon footprint was and to gain understanding about off-setting it.  I learned that offsetting is a better 'last step' and that there are some simple steps we can take to make some environmental gains in our business. “

“The workshop included frank speakers who shared their differing pathways with us.  We could see there are many ways to reach a similar goal, and that it is OK to do what works for us.”

What does sustainable mean in this context?

The term sustainable in this programme includes economic and environmental factors as well as consideration of visitors and their host communities. The programme is based on internationally accepted principles of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council  and Tourism Industry Aotearoa’s Tourism Sustainability Commitments.

Decarbonisation Workshop Series

Great South also leads a Decarbonisation Workshop Series during the year. The series, which is not tourism-specific, consists of three workshops and its focus is on measuring carbon emissions rather than wider sustainability goals.

Murihiku Southland Sustainable Tourism Programme

Apply now!

Decarbonisation Workshop Series

Express interest now!

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