Environmentally responsible tourism ensures Tasmania’s precious geographic features are preserved for the visitors of tomorrow… while being accessible and inspiring to the visitors of today.
To reduce the impact of human activity on Tasmania’s stunning natural assets, environmentally responsible tourism, or ecotourism, is practiced at dozens of locations across the island. Ecotourism achieves significant goals for both visitors and the location they’re visiting: visitors are provided with a unique and remarkable experience; all while zero environmental impact occurs at and around the location they’re visiting.
Tasmania sits on the forefront of world-standard environmentally responsible tourism practices. Passionate eco-adventure operators provide cruises and excursions into some of the world’s most precious wilderness locations. Six-star eco-lodges offer luxurious, carbon-friendly accommodation while simultaneously supporting local economies. Ancient indigenous culture is preserved, respected, and shared with the people of today. And local businesses and communities flourish on the financial activity provided by visitors to the area.
Ecotourism thrives in Tasmania for two reasons. Firstly, Tasmania’s unique geographical assets are found in every corner of the island. Secondly, these rich assets are lovingly cared for and zealously protected by fanatical watchkeepers: the people of Tasmania.
By visiting attractions that have a commitment to responsible ecotourism practices, visitors can rest assured that their ticket fare is contributing to the protection and conservation of the environment they’re visiting.
Choose from many ecotourism locations in Tasmania:
The Tahune Airwalk
The Tahune Airwalk is an exhilarating 600m-long walkway suspended high above the ancient rainforest canopy near Geeveston, about 90 kilometres south west of Hobart.
Sitting on the edge of 1.6 million hectares of World Heritage Listed forest, the Airwalk provides visitors with the opportunity to walk amongst ancient Tasmanian treetops, while taking in views of surrounding rainforest, birds and other native wildlife. The walkway is easy to access as it ascends gently from the ground until reaching a maximum height of approximately 30m above the ground.
The pièce de résistance of the Airwalk is the cantilever, a suspended viewing platform providing visitors with incredible views of the forest floor, river and surrounding rainforest.
The Tahune Airwalk provides visitors with the opportunity to experience unique and precious Tasmanian wilderness with a minimal impact on the environment. Learn more here.
Saffire Wilderness Lodge
Saffire Wilderness Lodge is a six-star eco-lodge located at the Freycinet Peninsula on Tasmania’s East Coast. The modern and environmentally conscious sanctuary features spacious light-filled suites offering magnificent views over the Hazards Mountains, Freycinet Peninsula and the pristine waters of Great Oyster Bay.
The Lodge features twenty luxury suites, a day spa, restaurant, guest lounge, bar and gymnasium. ‘Palate,’ the award-winning and internationally renowned restaurant serves iconic Tasmanian food alongside carefully curated wines. Treatments in the spa are designed exclusively by a celebrity facialist and provide visitors with a multitude of different massages and treatments. For those looking to explore the surrounding areas, locally run attractions like the Signature Schouten Island Experience are available most times of the year.
Saffire's six-star rating is not an exaggeration: the staff to guest ratio of 4:1 ensures exceptional service is interwoven into the Lodge’s unforgettable experience. Ready to disconnect in a relaxing, luxurious and unforgettable eco-retreat? Learn more here.
Environmentally Friendly Wilderness Cruises
One of Tasmania’s most awarded ecotourism operators is Pennicott Wilderness Journeys, a provider of environmentally responsible wilderness cruises.
Pennicott Wilderness Journeys provides unforgettable cruises in four areas around Tasmania:
- A half day or full day cruise around the rugged coastline of Bruny Island,
- A three hour cruise taking visitors along the spectacular coastline between Port Arthur and Eaglehawk Neck in the south of Tasmania,
- The Iron Pot cruise, a journey around Greater Hobart’s waterways area, and
- Tasmanian Seafood Seductions, an interactive cruise allowing visitors the opportunity to catch and enjoy seafood taken directly from waterways in Southern Tasmania.
Since 1999, Pennicott Wilderness Journeys has offered a variety of boat trips while implementing high environmental values. They employ and train local staff and buy local produce where possible. The company is completely carbon-neutral, has advanced ecotourism accreditation, and is assessed annually by EarthCheck. The company also donates to a number of conservation, humanitarian and community projects. Learn more about Pennicott Wilderness Journeys here.
White-water Rafting on the Franklin River
White-water rafting on the Franklin River near the western edge of the Central Highlands is an exhilarating and environmentally conscious way to experience Tasmania’s wilderness.
There are many rafting trips to choose from depending on skill and length and range from short day trips up to 8-10 day rafting-camping trips. Rafting tour staff are trained in proper waste disposal and ensure no rafting adventure leaves any trace of human evidence. Those camping in the area are briefed on how to effectively camp in the wild without disturbing surroundings.
Some tours also include a hike up to Frenchman’s Cap as a side trip. Learn more about white-water rating on the Franklin River.
Maria Island Walks
Maria Island is a picturesque mountainous island located four kilometres off the east coast of Tasmania. Once the home of a convict settlement and later used for farming, Maria Island is a now national park with no permanent residents. The island is accessible via ferry from Triabunna.
Tourism provider Maria Island Walks operates four-day luxury walking tours around the island, and includes an exhilarating hike to the summit of one of the island’s two peaks, either Mount Maria or Bishop and Clerk. Accommodation is provided in luxury tents and the heritage-listed Bernacchi House, and guests enjoy gourmet food and wine for the duration of the four-day trip.
The tour is operated by passionate provider Ian Johnston and his family who are dedicated to keeping the environment as pristine as possible. They have eco-tourism certifications and make sure they have a very light environmental footprint. Maria Island Walks also works closely with the Parks and Wildlife Service, community bird watching groups, and the Save the Tasmanian Devil programme. They are also involved with conservation projects such as heritage conservation, helping the introduction of disease-free devils, and planting trees to rehabilitate degraded areas and to help nurture and propagate different types of shorebirds.
By participating in a walk around Maria Island, visitors are helping these causes while enjoying one of the most popular and beautiful waking trails in Tasmania. Learn more here.
Belgrove Whisky Distillery
The Belgrove Whisky Distillery is a privately operated, environmentally friendly rye whisky distillery located in Kempton, about 50km north of Hobart.
Passionate farmer and distiller Peter Bignell started this unique rye whisky distillery in 2008 when a bumper season left him with an excess crop of rye. He decided to make whisky and has been doing so ever since. Bignell prides himself on his environmentally friendly production processes:
- He built his copper pot from scratch.
- He fuels it with biodiesel made from the waste cooking oil he gets from a roadhouse next to his farm.
- He also uses the biodiesel to heat his house and drive his tractor and forklift truck. Cooling water comes from his own dam and the wastewater is used for irrigation for the next rye crop.
- The grain is malted on site, which saves on transportation costs.
- Once the sugar has been extracted to make the whiskey, the leftover mash is fed to Bignell’s pigs and cattle.
Nothing is wasted on this farm: the only thing to leave is smooth, 100 per cent rye whiskey. Visitors are welcome to visit the farm and chat to Peter about his amazing carbon-neutral system that he has running, but an appointment must be made beforehand. Learn more here.
National Parks and Wilderness
There are 19 National Parks across Tasmania, of which 7 are part of the island’s internationally protected Wilderness World Heritage area. These parks are a great way to experience unique, untouched wilderness and cover a third of the 90,000 square kilometres that make the island of Tasmania.
Tasmania’s national parks are diverse and contain mountain ranges, highlands, rainforests, waterfalls and solitary beaches. These parks are suitable for visitors of all types and offer short walks, visits to waterfalls, barbeque areas, visitor centres, hiking, bird watching, white-water rafting, horse riding, wildlife spotting, and more.
Exploring one of Tasmania’s national parks is a great way for visitors to experience ecotourism, as the money from park entry fees is used to protect and preserve them.
Those who want to set forth independently should grab a Tasmania’s National Parks and Reserves Visitor Guide. Learn more here.
Walking the Overland Track
The Overland Track is a 5-7 day walking journey through the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, running between the beautiful rocky crags of Cradle Mountain and the edge of Lake St. Clair. The trail passes through mountains, waterfalls and rainforest featuring spectacular scenery, intricate ecosystems and diverse flora and fauna. The official trail is 65 kilometres long, however hikers can choose to continue from Lake St. Clair to make the journey 82 kilometres in total.
The Overland Track is one of the most popular treks in Australia with more than 8000 walkers completing it every year. The trail is a strong example of Tasmanian ecotourism as visitors are able to experience Tasmanian pristine environment while proceeds from the National Park entry fee (required to access the trail) are used to protect and preserve the area.
During popular summer months walkers must book their planned departure date to make sure the trail doesn’t become overcrowded. There are basic huts along the way however in case of bad weather hikers must carry a tent and provisions must be taken to last the entirety of the trip. It’s not advised for beginners to go independently.
Inexperienced hikers can walk the trail with the assistance of a tour operator like Tasmanian Expeditions who are ecotourism certified and follow a ‘leave no trace’ policy on all of the walks they offer. Learn more here.
Freycinet Eco Retreat
The Freycinet Eco Retreat is an environmentally friendly retreat located on the Freycinet Peninsula along Tasmania’s East Coast. The retreat offers visitors a range of accommodation types including eco-cabins, eco-studios and campsites. The retreat’s purpose built timber cabins stand on stilts with wooden walkways connecting them to the main lodge, ensuring minimal impact on the trees and surrounding environment.
The retreat is located inside the Freycinet National Park so all visitors are required to pay an entry fee of which proceeds goes towards preserving the park and its surroundings. The Freycinet Eco Retreat is a great base from which to discover the natural beauty of the surrounding area, and is easy to reach from either Hobart or Launceston. The Freycinet Eco Retreat was purpose built for environmentally conscious travellers looking to disconnect from busy life. Learn more here.
Huon Bush Retreats
Huon Bush Retreats is a luxury eco-retreat located inside an extensive private nature reserve in the middle of the Huon Valley, about 50 mins drive south of Hobart. The Bush Retreats achieve carbon-positive status through their carefully selected building materials, the use of a mix of clean energy sources, and responsible day to day operations that create minimal effect on natural surroundings.
Captivating bush trails surround the property where walkers discover various animals and insects, stunning rainforest and hidden waterfalls. Visitors can cosy up in one of the cabins or tepees or bring their own tent. Learn more abut the Huon Bush Retreats here.
Tarkine Wilderness Lodge
Way up in the northwest of Tasmania is the Tarkine Wilderness Lodge, an eco-retreat built in 2003 to protect and preserve the area’s breathtaking wilderness. Visitors to the lodge enjoy daytime walks, night-time walks (to try and spot the infamous Tasmanian Devil) and other eco-activities.
The lodge holds an advanced ecotourism certification thanks to its environmentally friendly practices:
- Rain water and dam water is used for all water supplies.
- Solar power is the main source of electricity, with a gas generator for back up.
- Organic produce is grown onsite and served to guests during evening meals, and any extra food requirements are sourced from local suppliers and growers.
What Is Ecotourism?
As described by The International Ecotourism Society, ecotourism is "responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education".
The practise of ecotourism also includes broader initiatives like:
- Environmentally responsible construction methods when building/modifying tourism dwellings and attractions, and
- Consideration of the aesthetic/visual impact of tourism dwellings and attractions on their natural surroundings, and
- Environmentally responsible education for both staff and visitors, therefore encouraging safe and accountable behaviour from both parties.
Ecotourism should strive to protect and preserve the wellbeing of surrounding flora and fauna, while simultaneously educating visitors to enjoy but not to disturb such wildlife and plant life.
Effective ecotourism combines tourism with rich local culture and preservation of the environment so that all three benefit from each other. The financial activity brought in by visitors should help conserve the natural environment while creating employment opportunities for local residents.
Tasmania’s Ecotourism Goal: Become The Best In The World
More than a million people visit Tasmania each year to experience its unspoilt natural environment and pristine waters. To ensure this happens for years to come, the Tourism Industry Council Tasmania (TICT) has one clear goal in mind: to position Tasmania as one of the leading ecotourism regions of the world through the widespread promotion and successful adoption of a globally recognised ecotourism certification called EarthCheck. Many of the 700 targeted tour companies in Tasmania have been evaluated and are now Earthcheck certified.
EarthCheck provides feedback on the tourism provider’s operational efficiency, waste production/management and unique ways in which the provider can protect the natural environment. After their evaluation, providers are awarded an ‘Earth Rating’ which shows how they fare against internationally recognised criteria.