German Tourist Uncovers Kaikoura Garbage Mountain, EarthCheck Status at Risk. Another 100% Pure NZ Story -Updated

kaikoura dump

One of the carcasses in the Kaikoura garbage pile on Puhi Puhi Valley Road.

German tourist, Hans Gunther, has exposed a 15 tonne illegal garbage dump in Kaikoura, and most of it can be traced to one local resident. Hans discovered the mess when he stopped to change a tyre about 10 km into a bike ride up the Puhi Puhi valley.

Among the fridges, dog kennels and tyres were mattresses and two cow carcasses. Hans reported the trash to the i-Site who reported it to Innovative Waste Kaikoura. IWK”s Sandy Mullaly said “this was the first time they had had a report of illegally dumped rubbish in the Puhi Valley.

Unfortunately, six months later, and despite the district’s EarthCheck status and the potential impact on the health of a nearby waterway, the steaming pile of mess is still there.

Now a local resident has spotted the dump, which still contains rotting animal corpses, while out cycling and is steaming mad about it:

The dumping had obviously been going on for some length of time and the site continued to be used, he said. “There’s about 15 tonnes of rubbish up there. Fridges, animal carcasses … it’s a massive illegal dump and it’s in the scenic Puhi Valley.”

The offending was reported in May this year by a German tourist however nothing had been done and more rubbish had appeared since. The location meant it would be impacting on the health of the waterway below and was difficult to access. Not only that but the rotting carcasses were causing a terrible stench, he said.

The material, which also contains signage, bikes, paint tins, plastic waste and mattresses, has been dumped over the side of the road into a steep culvert…

Kaikoura District Council planner Rachel Vaughan visited the site last week and said she would be collaborating with Environment Canterbury (ECan) to ensure it was cleaned up by the person responsible. source (3 November 2015)

The district council and Environment Canterbury say they are hoping to work together and develop an “action plan” to get the site cleaned up.

EarthCheck

EarthCheck is a scientific benchmarking certification and advisory group for travel and tourism. Their aim is to help businesses, communities and governments  deliver “clean, safe, prosperous and healthy destinations for travellers to visit, live, work and play”.

Update 1: In 2011 Kaikoura district gained a gold award from EarthCheck for its sustainability, a large part of which was the reduction of the amount of waste it sent to landfill. Within a year the reporting of illegal dumping increased in Kaikoura district “with reports coming in on a weekly basis“. At the time, Environment Canterbury (ECan) Kaikoura manager Kevin Heays said:

“he was disturbed at the disregard of the locals, with all recovered waste over the past three months having been identified as coming from local households, businesses and hunters. Not one incident has involved tourists.

Along with an unsightly mess, of concern is the risk to health and biodiversity.

Riverbeds and banks are a common choice of dump site, and two dead calves were discovered last week next to a pristine creek up the Kowhai River.”… more here

Update 2: (Hat tip to “Frank”)

This is from the time that Kaikoura achieved Gold award EarthCheck status in 2011

“In the year of 2009-2010, Kaikoura reduced energy consumption to 88.8 GJ per person. That’s 45.2% above EarthCheck’s global best-practice. During the same period, the community reduced their waste to 0.15 tonnes per person; an impressive 57% above best-practice. They did this by implementing a Zero Organics to landfill policy and collecting organic household food waste for communal composting. Since 2001, the township has reduced waste sent to landfill by 72%, extending the life of their landfill by ten years.

As a result of this success, Kaikoura has selected as one of 13 global destinations to be featured on a new travel series about sustainable tourism, which will air on Discovery Travel and Living in 2012. The documentary was filmed in February of this year and will be broadcast to a potential audience footprint of over 300 million people over the next five years, helping to deliver even more kudos to sustainable tourism operators in Kaikoura.”

By June 2012 this is what was happening…

Rubbish will flow north for dumping.

Marlborough District Councillors have agreed to take some of Kaikoura District Council’s rubbish at the Bluegums landfill in Blenheim, but some have joked that it is the beginning of a merger between the two districts.

The council’s assets and services committee approved accepting waste from Kaikoura, after recyclable, reusable, and compostable rubbish had been sorted out.

Kaikoura’s landfill is almost at the end of its life, and the Kaikoura District Council is looking to find ways to delay closing its own dump as long as possible and to find other ways to dispose of their waste.

Those options include shipping between 800 and 1000 tonnes of waste a year to Blenheim, or to the Kate Valley landfill, in Canterbury. ”

Kaikoura is Poster Child for the 100% Pure New Zealand Brand – Mayor

In 2014 Kaikoura supposedly went on to achieve Earthcheck Platinum certification, presumably based on information supplied by the district council. The status was awarded for the community’s “commitment to protecting our environment and working towards sustainability for our residents and visitors

Using EarthCheck’s science-based approach to sustainability, the tiny community of just 3800 people has benchmarked its environmental performance across six areas and implemented a number of projects to achieve outstanding results. Most significantly, the community has reduced its annual waste from 450kg to 140kg per person, which equates to a 70 percent reduction or little more than seven 240 litre wheelie bins of rubbish per person per year

Renowned for whale watching and a pristine coastal environment, Kaikoura attracts more than one million visitors to its shores. It is the first community in the Southern Hemisphere to achieve EarthCheck’s Platinum Award.

Mayor Winston Gray of the Kaikoura District Council congratulated the Kaikoura community for an ‘all in’ approach to the environment and for living and breathing New Zealand’s “100% Pure” brand.

“Since first adopting a sustainable approach in the 1990s, the Kaikoura community has walked the talk to become a poster child for the “100% pure NZ” brand,” said Mayor Gray…

Professor David Simmons from New Zealand’s Lincoln University said Kaikoura is proof that a community can live the ‘100% pure NZ’ brand. source

Kaikoura has one resource recovery center which has 92% resident satisfaction – indicative that the service is “doing a good job of meeting our community’s needs”. The council is committed to zero waste, based on the hierarchy of reduce, reuse, recycle, recover.

Yet somehow Kaikoura District  managed to ignore tonnes of stinking garbage for a significant period of time, and most likely ‘translocated’ 800 – 1000 tonnes of its ‘zero waste‘ out of the district to other landfill sites, rather than bury it on its own patch..

Note this. There is no kerbside garbage collection in Kaikoura, people must dispose of their refuse as best they can, or they can take it to Innovative Waste Kaikoura. Kerbside recycling days (bags start at $3.50) are once a week depending on location.

Street Bin “Crackdown”

By June 2015 (a month after Mr Gunther had his unpleasant surprise) the council was threatening to crack down on people who “misuse street bins” by putting their household and commercial garbage in them. District planner Rachel Vaughan (yes, same officer), said

the Kaikoura community was committed to Zero Waste, which meant the community was aiming for no waste to be put into the landfill. (ed. so what about the Bluegums landfill in Blenheim,?!)

“Every year we find more and more ways to reduce waste and on the whole we are awesome at recycling but some people think they can shirk their waste disposal responsibilities,” she said.

Staff from Innovative Waste who suspected bins had been used for household rubbish would look through the waste to see if the culprit could be identified.”

It looks like the Kaikoura community is desperate to get rid of its waste as best it can and it’s ending up anywhere but the local garbage dump.

One has to ask, how many more tonnes of stinking garbage are lying around the Kaikoura District and how much of Kaikoura’s waste is ending up in distant landfill sites?

Earthcheck platinum status is so hard to achieve, and so very, very easy to lose.

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8 thoughts on “German Tourist Uncovers Kaikoura Garbage Mountain, EarthCheck Status at Risk. Another 100% Pure NZ Story -Updated

  1. This is unfortunatly the state of rubbish in NZ. The councils disposal costs are SO high that people can not afford to dispose of their rubbish and consequently dump it in the bush. 100 Pure is a joke. Sure there are some beautiful places that ‘look’ clean and green and some of the scenery is spectaular but just dont look too close. If you do you will find dump sites EVERYWHERE. In many cases they are well hidden, (from local council and the general onlooker) because the users dont want them to be found. Have a look down cliff faces and steep areas and you will find tons and tons of the stuff. 100% Pure is an advertising slogan designed by clever marketeers, it does not reflect the true state of NZ. Just take a look at the river mouths round the country, they are banked high with garbage in many places.

    • There are frequently articles in newspapers that talk about how the councils are having to clean up garbage from remote areas. Illegal dumping goes on all the time.
      Shame as the country side is one of the most appealing aspects of NZ and it is being ruined.

  2. The garbage must have gotten into the ground water and affected the overall health of the region [like
    Love Canal] as evidenced by the nonsensical comments placed on this site by one of your favorite posters.
    They even have the location in their “handle”.

  3. Admin, you should look at the images on this Facebook https://en-gb.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=969557906398577&id=228072970547078

    Kaikoura Illegal dumping is costing you money!
    Our Litter Officers and River Engineers are finding sites of illegal rubbish dumps near some of our river beds and roads.

    Be aware that the cost of cleaning up comes from rates that you pay. This means that rates money is diverted from worthwhile projects such as beautification or planting.

    Please leave only footprints

  4. Look at this a year later 20/06/2012

    “Rubbish will flow north for dumping.

    Marlborough District Councillors have agreed to take some of Kaikoura District Council’s rubbish at the Bluegums landfill in Blenheim, but some have joked that it is the beginning of a merger between the two districts.

    The council’s assets and services committee approved accepting waste from Kaikoura, after recyclable, reusable, and compostable rubbish had been sorted out.

    Kaikoura’s landfill is almost at the end of its life, and the Kaikoura District Council is looking to find ways to delay closing its own dump as long as possible and to find other ways to dispose of their waste.

    Those options include shipping between 800 and 1000 tonnes of waste a year to Blenheim, or to the Kate Valley landfill, in Canterbury. ”

    800 – 1000 tonnes of waste gets shipped out to other land fill sites. How is that sustainable? Reduce, reuse, recycle RELOCATE!

  5. This is from when Kaikoura got the gold award in 2011

    “In the year of 2009-2010, Kaikoura reduced energy consumption to 88.8 GJ per person. That’s 45.2% above EarthCheck’s global best-practice. During the same period, the community reduced their waste to 0.15 tonnes per person; an impressive 57% above best-practice. They did this by implementing a Zero Organics to landfill policy and collecting organic household food waste for communal composting. Since 2001, the township has reduced waste sent to landfill by 72%, extending the life of their landfill by ten years.

    As a result of this success, Kaikoura has selected as one of 13 global destinations to be featured on a new travel series about sustainable tourism, which will air on Discovery Travel and Living in 2012. The documentary was filmed in February of this year and will be broadcast to a potential audience footprint of over 300 million people over the next five years, helping to deliver even more kudos to sustainable tourism operators in Kaikoura.”

    Huh? despite all the extra strain placed on Kaikoura by tourists three quarters of it’s refuse disappeared, and as a result the town got a plug for sustainable tourism.

    Where the heck is all the crap going? Steep culverts off the sides of roads. That’s where.

    Color me disgusted.

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