New Zealand: The Dream Destination for ‘Ecomigrants’?

Travel Blog  •  Joanna Kakissis  •  02.24.09 | 1:57 PM ET

new zealandPhoto by Sami Keinšnen via Flickr (Creative Commons).

Most ecomigrants, or people who leave their home countries because of climate change, are poor, desperate and often homeless. Consider the citizens of Bangladesh, where between 12 million and 17 million eco-refugees have fled in the last few decades because of increased flooding and other environmental catastrophes attributed in part to global warming. But in an intriguing Washington Post story, it appears that well-off people from developed countries are also worried enough about climate change to relocate to greener locales.

An Israeli professor moved to Indiana, which seemed like a better (but perhaps way duller?) option than a town in the desiccated Middle East “where everything is yellow and dry and there are only three months of rain a year.” And a young family from the greater Washington, D.C., area left for New Zealand, where they had never visited and had no family, but which had excellent green credentials and a commitment to developing renewable energy. Adam Fier, a 38-year-old computer security professional, figured that his 6-year-old twin daughters would have a healthier life there, especially since he believes “this planet is going to be a mess” in a century.

New Zealand, by the way, is also a favored destination for the beleaguered 100,000 residents of the Pacific nation of Kiribati, a collection of islands that will soon be overwhelmed by rising seas.

I wonder if New Zealanders will headline their growing buzz as eco-haven in their tourism promos, though they already have plenty of green cred to brag about.