For many years now, Simon and I haven’t really brought each other gifts. Instead, we like to spend that money and time on doing activities together and creating memories. So, to celebrate Birthdays we tend to indulge in our love of food and for our Anniversary we opt for going on adventures, either locally or internationally.
To celebrate our 2nd wedding anniversary we booked a Canopy Camping escape. A weekend away where we could take a break from the big city, disconnect and take in the beautiful natural landscapes of Northland, New Zealand. My top tip for staying sustainable when on holiday is to come prepared – packing everything you need in your own containers will help reduce the amount of waste you’ll produce.
For this trip, we stocked up on everything we would need including breakfast and dinner for the entire stay and snacks for beach trips and day excursions. For lunches, we planned on mostly eating out or have leftovers. Before leaving we stopped at the local farmers market where we get Mudgy's Hot Smoked Salmon from the lovely Tony, straight out of the smoker. He is more than happy for me to bring along my own container, so long as I time it right - I make a great salmon and potato salad (I might share the recipe if you are interested). We then headed to our local grocer to stock up on fresh fruit, vegetables and meat, and I had previously got snacks for the road trip from the bulk food shop. We also made sure we packed the basic items that we already had around the house, like oil, butter, jam etc… well almost… for this trip, I actually forgot to pack the butter, jam, garlic and balsamic vinegar. FAIL! So we ended up doing a shop at a local store to pick these items up, which unfortunately did come with some unwanted waste - double fail!
We have packing down to an art these days, but remembering all the key things to ensure we are able to travel zero waste sometimes doesn’t happen. Reusable coffee cups are always the first thing to be packed, metal straws and reusable carry bags already live in my handbag, but to ensure we are prepared, we also try to remember our stainless-steel food containers and a few extra jars just in case. I would also suggest a few produce bags and beeswax wraps to help keep leftovers fresh.
Packed and ready to go we headed north to Mangonui… Wait, we don’t an own a car, so how did we get there you ask? Easy, whenever we need a car for weekends away we hire one. Typically, we hire whatever is cheapest, but maybe next time we will look for an electric car… Anyway, with our zero waste snacks and refillable drink bottles in hand, we headed off to our eco-friendly and off-the-grid getaway. After a four hour drive (plus some stops), we reached our destination - perched on a river bank amongst some olive trees was Northlanding River Bothy, a small charcoal washed hut with white framed window and doors, the perfect spot to unwind, refuel and disconnect.
By this stage we hadn’t had lunch and were both feeling rather hungry, so it didn’t take us long to get stuck into the freshly baked homemade bread (still warm) and olive oil from the orchard which was awaiting us! OK, this is not a sales pitch but seriously this olive oil is amazing. I love supporting local businesses, especially if it is this good, so Simon and I picked up a bottle of Shaken Down Olive Oil before we left.
Making our trip extra sustainable, North Landing is run on solar power, utilises tank water, is completely off-grid and even has a composting toilet (which is not as scary as it sounds). Overall we were almost entirely waste-free, less the few bits of packaging we picked up from the supermarket. We did have some recycling resulting from beer cans and wine bottles, and we filled two jars with food scraps which we brought home with us for composting.
Overall this was an amazing experience and exactly what we were looking for. We spent most of our days exploring the area and eating zero waste home cooked meals by the river. We even went stand up paddle boarding up the river amongst the trees, which was very relaxing. When we weren’t out exploring the northern beaches we were chilling in the hammocks set amongst olive grove, and we were even able to star gaze in the outdoor bathtub, wine in hand of course! The owners were also super lovely and very welcoming. I had a good chat with Maggie about what inspired them to set up an eco-friendly getaway and how they enjoyed living a sustainable life in the far north. We even helped save a baby calf stranded on the wrong side of the fence!
So, next time you’re planning a getaway, stop and think about what you can take with you that will reduce the amount of waste you produce. Taking your own package-free food is a great place to start and planning in advance can help pre-empt your needs and prepare a zero-waste alternative. Remember to take your essentials, and where possible, live like a local!
We can also highly recommend heading North and visiting the River Bothy if you are wanting an eco-friendly getaway where you too can disconnect and enjoy the beauty of New Zealand.