Tim Dower: Are we at peak tourism? Of course!

Author
Tim Dower,
Publish Date
Thu, 19 Dec 2019, 2:12PM
The popular Tongariro Alpine Crossing now pulls in 130,000 people each year. (Photo / File)
The popular Tongariro Alpine Crossing now pulls in 130,000 people each year. (Photo / File)

Tim Dower: Are we at peak tourism? Of course!

Author
Tim Dower,
Publish Date
Thu, 19 Dec 2019, 2:12PM

I was part of a long line of cars following a camper van up State Highway One yesterday.

I'm in no rush, so I don't care that it's rumbling along at about 70 taking in the views.

That's the reason people come here as tourists to be awed by some of the vistas we pretty much take for granted.

But there's now a report warning that tourism is ruining what makes New Zealand special.

Its stuff we've all quietly known for a while now, but this comes from the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Simon Upton, so perhaps we should at least be taking note.

Upton says we've got issues because of the number of visitors which is now almost four million a year from overseas.

Then of course, there's all the travel we do ourselves exploring this beautiful place.

It's not just about traffic, it's about loss of quiet, water quality, the amount of trash, overloading of the infrastructure, and, dare I say it, greenhouse gas emissions.

These days I live in Northland, and I was only saying to someone in the village the other day, it's definitely holiday season.

More cars and so many campervans. People in the shops, people in the cafes. Those businesses need a good summer to keep open and provide a service to locals through the winter. That's a fact.

I liked what we just heard from Regina Skayvens, balancing what we often hear about backpackers and freedom campers. They stay longer, and go to more remote parts.

But overall, are we at peak tourism? Err, yes.