Rachel Hunter has been back on home soil clearing coastlines, hanging out with Great Barrier kids and releasing kiwi this past month.

Hunter's visit comes as part of her international ambassador role with Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED).

From her Los Angeles base she's been in a prime position to influence the premium United States visitor market.

ATEED brought the 48-year-old back to Auckland for a month to showcase sustainable practices going on in the city, given the growing global trend towards sustainability in tourism.


"It's been amazing the last few weeks working with ATEED and looking at the sustainability and the conservation that's happening within Auckland," Hunter said.

She spent time learning about pest eradication in the Hauraki Gulf; the steps being taken to protect kauri trees in the Waitakere Ranges; and the work of volunteers cleaning up coastlines and waterways.

Hunter was "heartened" by what she saw.

"I've been able to go out to see the kids at Great Barrier Island from Okiwi School and what they are doing in their own environment to make sure the trees, animals and insects are staying intact.

"Being able to go out to Motutapu and release Matariki (kiwi) was pretty special because you are releasing one of our iconic birds back into the wild."

Hunter said the work of volunteers involved with Seacleaners – a charitable trust removing rubbish from the sea – was selfless, and she admired their focus on change and "not suffering in the problem".

"I'm super proud to be working with ATEED and looking at the sustainability and conservation focus throughout Auckland.

"Tourism has mostly been about selling this and selling that, but this is about being really responsible for our environment, the cities and the towns that we live in."


Auckland's new strategy for its visitor economy, Destination AKL 2025, has set out a long-term vision for Auckland's visitor economy encompassing tourism, major events, business events and international education.

ATEED General Manager Destination Steve Armitage said visitors to New Zealand contributed more to our economy than any other industry.

"But with growth comes responsibility and through this Auckland wide strategy we will work together to achieve a sustainable future for Auckland and its visitor economy."