Dig this: Weeding gorse seen as way to keep tourists grounded

7:00 pm on 3 July 2022

With New Zealand's borders slowly reopening West Coast tourism operators are looking at new ways to connect with visitors, including offering the chance to help clear weeds from native bush.

The familiar sight of a gorse-covered hillside. Photo:

The chief executive of Development West Coast, Heath Milne, said while borders were shut many tourism operators survived due to DOC's Jobs for Nature and they are now using some of the lessons learnt to reshape their businesses.

He said people were embracing the concept of regenerative tourism, where visitors make a hands on contribution to the area they are visiting.

Milne said a great example was people paying to visit Okarito, near Franz Josef, and, in part, helping to remove gorse in the area.


Photo: Unsplash / Tonia Kraakman

Milne said this style of tourism gave people a real sense of wellbeing and connection with the local community.

At the end of July the New Zealand border will fully reopen to visitors and West Coast tourism operators are hoping their devastated numbers will start picking up.

Milne said DOC's Jobs for Nature programme helped keep some tourism workers in the region, but many left.

"There's certainly lots of opportunities for workers to come into the West Coast and South Westland already. As we know immigration is still a challenge so it's going to be an ongoing challenge this summer. So anybody want a job, come see us."

Milne said it was encouraging to see air travel to the US and parts of Europe returning to pre-Covid-19 levels.

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There are other tourism opportunities in Okarito. Photo: Okarito Kayaks

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