Blue Flag

The Blue Flag is an internationally recognised and respected eco-label that is awarded annually to beaches, marinas and sustainable tourism boating operators which have met strict criteria in four categories.

It was founded in 1987 and is run internationally by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE), a non-profit organization based in Denmark. There are currently over 4,000 Blue Flags flying in 48 countries. New Zealand’s National Operator of the Blue Flag programme is Keep New Zealand Beautiful (KNZB).

The categories a beach, marina or sustainable tourism boating operator must meet are:  

  1. Water Quality
  2. Environmental Management
  3. Environmental Education
  4. Safety & Services
  5. Social Responsibility

The criteria are further categorised as either imperative or guideline. Imperative criteria must be complied with in order for a marina, beach or sustainable boating tourism operator to be awarded a Blue Flag. Guideline criteria are strongly encouraged, but are not mandatory.

What makes the Blue Flag programme so unique and successful is its holistic nature. The standards were developed to ensure that Blue Flag sites are not only clean and environmentally sustainable, but provide the facilities and services that tourists around the world look for. It is for this reason that the Blue Flag programme is embraced by the World Health Organization, the World Tourism Organization, and the United Nations Environmental Programme.

Blue Flag performs random and announced control visits to Blue Flag marinas, beaches and sustainable boating tourism operators during the boating season in order to ensure that all criteria are being met. This is critical to ensure that all awarded sites uphold the integrity of the programme.

If you are interested in becoming an accredited beach, marina or sustainable tourism boating operator you can review our criteria hand books and additional resources below.

2017/2018 New Zealand Blue Flag Awards 



For more information please contact us: 

  • Email:
  • Call: Mon-Thurs (09) 264 1434.