October 9, 2022
There are no prizes for guessing why our news feed has been quiet for a while. It seems the last two years have largely been about responding to one crisis after another, while lurching from lockdown to lockdown.
But it’s hasn’t been all doom and gloom and while we’ve all been contending with a global pandemic, we’ve tried to remain true to the spirit or the ethos of the company we set up nearly 10 years ago. So, in a series of brief articles, we’re going to share a little of the stuff we’ve been doing that hasn’t been halted by Covid-19, and we’ll start with an unresearched idea that turned out to be a winner.
Late in 2019 we realized that we were fast running out of space on our site on Waiheke’s Trig Hill for further native tree planting. If you have a look at our conservation page you’ll see why restoring, and protecting, NZ’s native trees is so vitally important. We’d made it feasible for our guests to donate native trees when on-site with us; a project that was proving very popular. As a simple trial, on a quiet Wednesday in September, we switched on functionality in our reservation system that would allow users to add a native tree donation to their ‘cart’. ‘I don’t know if it’ll do much’ said Gavin, our MD ‘but let’s see what happens’.
When we checked to confirm the functionality was still working, about 48-hours later, we were staggered to see that over 30 trees had already been donated. There was no fanfare for this initiative, which was launched with only a couple of dozen explanatory words on the shopping cart. As the days past, more tree donations came in and there was barely a day went past when the donated tree counter didn’t clicked upwards.
Everything was going gangbusters until March 2020, when the whole world suddenly came to a shuddering halt. With no customers visiting EcoZip the native tree donations stopped abruptly. By June 2020 we were trading again, but with a fraction of our pre-Covid visitor numbers and the threat of snap lockdowns ever present. 2020 turned slowly in to 2021 and the company’s owners, Gavin and Chris, faced a dilemma. In 2019, when the tourism industry was thriving, Gavin and Chris had made a commitment to double whatever native tree funds were donated by our clients. A full financial year has passed and pandemic or not, but a commitment is a commitment and Gavin and Chris were convinced the funds should be passed on to an organization that could put the trees to good use. Despite a dwindling bank balance, none of the Government’s targeted support for tourism, and no end in sight for the crippling border closure, Gavin and Chris decided to use the company’s reserves to make good on a promise. So 4,000 became 8,000.
The trees were gifted to Waiheke Resources Trust, a local not-for-profit running, amongst many others, a scheme called Love Our Wetlands. This programme is restoring several wetlands on Waiheke, each of which has unique historical, cultural and environmental value. Through this mahi, WRT are creating vibrant habitats where NZ’s native species can thrive. People who walk through the sites can see and hear the changes as birds return, trees grow, and the wetlands flourish.
Fast forward to May 2022 and we were delighted to join the team from WRT to celebrate international biodiversity day by kicking off the planting season at the Rangihoua wetland, planting the trees we’d donated a year previously.
Now if you zip with us, and make a native tree donation (which costs less than a coffee!) you’ll know where your money is going.