Nick and Rosie Rogers from the Experience Collective, which manages Tui Brewery, have planted more than 1000 native trees in the past 12 months and established an on-site nursery with native seedlings to improve freedom camping at Mangatainoka Reserve. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Wairarapa businesses are leading the way in making New Zealand a world class sustainable visitor destination after recognition by Qualmark New Zealand.

Qualmark New Zealand, an independent organisation that assesses businesses to ensure they offer the highest quality experiences to New Zealand visitors, has awarded the Gold Sustainable Tourism Business Award to Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre, Tui Brewery, and Tranzit Group.

Destination Wairarapa general manager David Hancock said State Highway 2 had turned gold after the recognition.

“Wairarapa continues to attract more visitors and Qualmark’s latest ratings show several of our operators are demonstrating exceptional sustainable tourism practices that deliver outstanding customer experiences and we are very proud of that.”

The three businesses were evaluated on operational practices, environment and culture, social and people, and health and safety.

“When strong regional products like these are combined with our other attractions such as wine tourism, cycling, coastal landscapes and our towns and villages, it provides an even more compelling opportunity to encourage more traffic along SH2 and even more reasons for day or weekend trips out of Wellington or Palmerston North,” David said.

Gregg Anderson, general manager of Qualmark New Zealand said Pukaha Mount Bruce and Tui Brewery were standout organisations in the region, with their innovative marketing programmes, commitment to community engagement, and understanding of the tourism sector.

He was also impressed with Tranzit Group, which operates nationwide but has its base in Wairarapa.

“Tranzit Group has built a culture of continuous improvement in all its processes that has enabled the business to grow rapidly while at the same time improving services for clients, guests, and the environment,” he said.

Jenna Snelgrove, marketing director for Tranzit Group, said the company and its’ 1500 strong team were rapt with receiving the award.

“It’s a real buzz for them to be acknowledged in this way,” she said.

“Tranzit has had a busy year with preparing to operate Wellington Metlink services, including bringing to the region New Zealand’s first fully-electric buses.

Emily Court, general manager of Pukaha Mount Bruce, was thrilled with the award and said it reflected the hard work her team had put into conservation and sustainability kaupapa.

She said it also came after another award, a Hall of Fame member, from Trip Advisor which means they’ve achieved a certificate of excellence on the travel website for five years running.

Rosie Rogers, from The Experience Collective which manages Tui Brewery, said it was fantastic to have her team’s internal hard work acknowledged externally.

“We’ve reduced our waste to landfill by 75 per cent through reviewing our recycling programme, worked hard to combat seasonality through conferencing, Tui Express and our Mangatainoka motors events and given back to the community through our Plants and Pints project.”

Qualmark will announce awards for several other Wairarapa tourism operators in the coming weeks.