thl is committed to managing and developing its business in a sustainable manner and to minimising the environmental impact of its activities. To become a sustainable business thl focusses on balancing three main principles: cost effectiveness, environmental responsibility and social responsibility. Steps have been taken each year to deliver on this approach. This year has been no exception. In Australia, thl partnered with the Leave No Trace Recreational Vehicle Code of Conduct programme and successfully completed the process to achieve Eco Tourism Australia’s Nature Tourism certification which carries the T-QUAL tick from Tourism Australia.
Similar to the Leave No Trace philosophy in Australia, thl in New Zealand has been a member of the Freedom Camping Forum since its inception. The forum is committed to educating visitors to New Zealand about Kaitiakitanga (guardianship), ensuring that customers camp responsibly. In New Zealand, the thl rentals Maui and Britz brands achieved the Qualmark Enviro-Gold Award with Mighty attaining the Enviro Silver Award The business partnered with the Tourism Energy Efficiency Programme (TEEP) to audit the Auckland branch and share learnings across the national branch network to improve energy consumption and cost savings.
This partnership extended to the design of the Maui Platinum motorhomes. Prototype designs were tested for heat loss using infrared thermography, with results that allowed thl to make improvements that reduce heat loss by 15%. As part of the Better By Design programme, further environmental sustainability gains will be achieved through the design process. Within its Tourism Operations, Kiwi Experience has achieved NZ Qualmark Enviro Silver Award and Waitomo has achieved the Gold standard.
thl’s management of the Glowworm Caves is founded upon sustainable use and protection of the cave and its natural environment. Management of the cave is controlled by an environmental management plan developed in conjunction with an Environmental Advisory Group which includes the Department of Conservation (DoC) and local Hapu.
The new Waitomo Glowworm Caves Visitor Centre illustrates how well sustainable design can work for tourism, the environment and the local community. Sustainability is expressed in the design through the unique architectural form and the relationship with the site’s topography and ecology, the minimisation of energy consumption, the protection and conservation of water, the use of environmentally friendly materials.
The predominant material used for the visitor centre is sustainably managed timber. This results in a low embodied energy structure which ‘locks in’ carbon. The roofing material which is made from teflon (ETFE) pillows covers the grid shell and is extremely durable, self-cleaning, recyclable and highly transparent to the full spectrum of sunlight.
Energy consumption is minimised by providing high levels of insulation to occupied areas and heat pumps for energy-efficient heating. The highly transparent canopy maximises the use of natural lighting, and ventilation is provided through a mixed mode, natural and mechanical system. The visitor centre is self-sufficient in terms of water supply, with canopy rainwater being discharged via a landscaped swale, with peak overflow to the river and water supply being taken from the river after local filtration and treatment. The centre also uses water efficient sanitary fixtures.
The visitor centre represents a unique low carbon design response to the site. The building is semi enclosed and opens at both ends, and thus cannot be compared directly to the usual ratings of fully enclosed buildings. It would, however, sit comfortably with an equivalent 4 – 5 Green Star NZ or Silver – Gold LEED US rating.
thl have recently partnered with Conservation Volunteers in Australia and New Zealand. Our customers have the opportunity to deeply engage with environmental projects by connecting with Conservation Volunteers through our various websites. This opportunity has also been extended to the thl crew many of whom are active in this field and we are committed to raising money to support the projects.
thl currently contributes to a number of worthwhile local and broader community sponsorships. thl a proud sponsor of The Foundation For Youth Development. The Foundation for Youth Development was founded by Graeme and Jo-anne Dingle and is a leading organisation managing proven youth development programmes aimed to inspire school aged children to reach their full potential. This sponsorship is led by our Britz brand and its involvement in ‘The Big Walk’ – this walk sees groups of kids traverse the length of New Zealand.
Maui has supported the Oxfam Trailwalker in New Zealand since 2006 and some of the thl crew have completed the 100km walk too. The Event is not only a lot of fun but raises profile and significant funds for Oxfam projects in our part of the world.