New Zealand is paying the price for its natural beauty. More and more visitors have been traveling to New Zealand each year, and the growth is threatening to ruin the very landscapes and peacefulness people are coming to enjoy.

Simon Upton, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, explained, “The sheer numbers of people are eroding the sense of isolation, tranquillity and access to nature that many overseas tourists seek when visiting New Zealand. We need to ask, are we in danger of killing the goose that laid the golden egg?”

According to Upton’s latest report, the tourism sector in New Zealand is set to increase to 10-13 million visitors per year by 2050. The report says that while tourism is often considered a harmless industry, pressures from overcrowding have negatively impacted six main areas:

  • Visitor density and loss of natural quiet
  • Water quality degradation
  • Solid waste generation and management
  • Infrastructure development and landscape modification
  • Biodiversity loss and biosecurity risk
  • Greenhouse gas emissions

More than ever, lines of selfie-taking tourists are appearing on mountaintops, roads are clogged with traffic, and waste is plaguing roadsides and parks. The issues are particularly evident at Mount Cook, Tongariro Alpine Crossing, and Mount Roy.


Professor Michael Lueck, a tourism expert at Auckland University of Technology, said, “It appears that the main problem is the sheer number of tourists, and we need to look at slowing this growth […] it would be fairly easy to, for example, limit the number of cruise ships coming into the country.”

While no policy solution was brought forward in the report, quotas for visitors to the country’s most popular spots could be part of the future of tourism in New Zealand.

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