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Great Walks in demand as they hit 30 - DOC

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Demand for bookings over New Zealand’s 30th Great Walks season is strong, with Kiwis taking up more than 85% of spots, says the Department of Conservation.

Bookings for the 2022-23 Great Walks season (1 July 2022 to 30 June 2023) opened last week. Data shows New Zealanders are keen to get into the outdoors and enjoy the country’s landscapes, despite borders reopening.

"We love that Kiwis are choosing to take time out in nature on their Great Walks," says DOC’s Heritage and Visitors Director, Tim Bamford.

"It’s not surprising Great Walks are popular, they are bucket list adventures and restorative escapes."

"DOC provides a fair booking service that can cope with the demand while keeping numbers on these walks at a sustainable level for the precious landscapes they traverse. It’s a careful balance between delivering high-quality access, and ensuring these places are protected and restored for future generations."

Excluding the storm-damaged Heaphy Track, there was a slight increase of around 5% in opening week bookings across the Great Walks, compared to last year, says Tim Bamford.

"We get a lot of interest in how fast tracks book up for peak dates such as summer holidays and long weekends, but the reality is there’s still plenty of space to book onto a Great Walk this year. Rakiura, Abel Tasman, and Heaphy are all good options and can be walked year-round."

"Camping is available along eight of the Great Walks, for those who are keen and able. Camping is a cheaper option and offers space for groups, and night-time quiet and privacy."

Bookings by New Zealanders accounted for more than 100,000 or 85% of bednights booked on the Great Walks during opening week. A further 17,500 bednights were booked by international customers. Australians were by far the biggest overseas customer, making roughly half of all international bookings.

"It’s great to see the gradual return of international visitors to our Great Walks and the communities that host them, with an increase from 11% of opening bookings last year to 15% of bookings this year," says Tim Bamford.

"These figures will change as the season progresses. Although we wouldn’t anticipate a return to pre-COVID numbers, we do expect overseas bookings to increase a wee bit over the season - often filling week-day or off-peak times."

DOC also gets asked about Great Walks bookings made by businesses and agents each year, says Tim Bamford.

"These make up for a small percentage of bookings and must be made in the same way the rest of us book - online when bookings open with valid names and contacts for walkers."

At the end of last week (11.59pm 6 May 2022) DOC data showed bookings by operators, businesses and agents accounted for 1.4% of all Great Walks bookings, with school and community groups accounting for 0.7% and the remaining 97.9 % of bookings made by the public. There were no concessionaire bookings on Milford Track.

Tim Bamford acknowledges multi-day tramping isn’t for everyone, but says there’s an option to overnight in nature to suit most people and budgets.

"DOC accommodation is located in some of the world’s most stunning nature, and fees go back into conservation and recreation in New Zealand. I’d encourage everyone to make the most of their conservation huts, lodges, cabins and campsites across the country."

Find out more: 30 Years of Great Walks (doc.govt.nz)

Minimise your impact outdoors: DOC’s Tiaki Care Code https://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/know-before-you-go/

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