Protecting what matters most
Like most businesses, we’re answerable to our shareholders. But for us, they’re our kids. Return on investment for them isn’t measured in dollars …
We’re a small business, operating in a really precious environment, both ecologically and socially. It’s rare to have visitors to our village not comment on the natural beauty of the place and sense of peace and community of the village itself. So we feel we have a tremendous responsibility to do everything we can to look after that, without changing the very thing that we and our visitors appreciate so much about our area.
GorseBusters came out of wanting to do something positive with our time in our backyard, in a difficult post-Covid year where we had little income. The aim was a small project pushing back against gradual spread of gorse and weeds around the stunning Ōkārito Lagoon, with just a few mates and some local volunteers – it got away on us a bit though; we’ve created a monster.
Ōkārito Lagoon covers more than 3000 hectares of shallow open water, and is internationally renowned for it’s outstanding native and endemic birdlife. The lagoon is notably the main feeding ground for the rare Kōtuku/White Heron, seen at close quarters without disturbance by kayakers year round.
This precious environment needs our help though, to remain free from invasive pest species that threaten predation or loss of habitat, and to keep it’s very high water quality.
Okarito Kayaks has a wonderful opportunity to educate and inform visitors about the high value of the natural landscape and ecology of the area. Through our briefings of kayakers, the printed interpretative information we provide to accompany their kayak trips, our expert local guided interpretation on the water, and even the day-to-day conversations as we serve coffee, we can support an increasing awareness of the importance of protecting the natural environment that visitors have experienced here.
Sustainability, or regenerative tourism, are fashionable and over-used terms, but the proposition should be simple – leave a place better than you found it. Our impact here at Okarito Kayaks should be positive to our natural environment and social surrounds. So, not just giving people the chance to experience and learn about the fantastic wetlands and forests at our doorstep, but actually doing real work to tangibly improve them.
This we do through significant ongoing volunteer conservation projects like GorseBusters, that we founded and run, that have real results. In addition, our participation on local Boards and community organisations helps advocate for a positive future for our region; the other side of the coin is just getting on with picking up a shovel to fill in the pot holes when needed on local roads.
Then, there’s things that we deliberately don’t do – the everyday actions designed into the heart of our business, in minimising, not just offsetting, waste and carbon; or deliberately limiting our operating hours to keep our our small town peaceful and noise-free in the evenings.
So … if you get to us here in a couple of years, and there’s a big Golden M on the front lawn, take us out the back to the swamp and … well, y’know. But if you like what we do, and want to know more – come and join us for a guided kayak trip and we can show you why this place is special, or even better, come join us in looking after it …
If you're keen on joining us for GorseBusters, our next annual volunteer week takes place 18th to 23rd March 2024 - more info here: https://www.okarito.co.nz/gorsebusters/
Ōkārito is a small, peaceful village on the western sea coast of the South Island of New Zealand.
Only 10km off the main highway, Ōkārito is about 25-minutes drive north of Franz Josef Glacier. Look for the signposted turn-off between Lake Mapourika and Lake Wahapo.
You’ll find spacious, private car parking at our two red sheds on the left just as you enter the village, with a homely base building and bathrooms for comfort.
1, The Strand, Ōkārito, West Coast
+64 3 753 4014
Soak up this stunning natural environment. Hire a kayak to independently explore these ancient waterways at your own pace or let one of our experienced guides take you on an intimate tour through pristine wilderness.
Options available for all ages and any fitness level.