Great Walks bookings open next week

  • Hon Eugenie Sage

This summer presents a great opportunity for New Zealanders to get out into nature with bookings on Great Walks for 2020/21 set to open next week, says Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage.

Bookings for the Great Walks will open between 9 and 11 June, excluding Milford and Routeburn tracks which are still undergoing storm repairs. Bookings for these tracks are projected to open in July/August 2020.

<“For people who haven’t done a Great Walk previously, the 2020/21 season presents a fantastic opportunity to get out and experience nature in some of New Zealand’s most spectacular landscapes with iconic wildlife and rich history,” says Eugenie Sage.

“With a high standard of tracks and facilities, they are accessible options for people wishing to connect with Aotearoa’s heritage and experience some of the best multi-day walks in the world.”

“New Zealand is highly regarded as a walking destination. As the Great Walks gain global recognition, it has become harder to secure a booking on to the most popular tracks at peak times.”

Over the last two summer Great Walks seasons (October to the end of April), the Department of Conservation (DOC) trialled ‘differential pricing’ (a higher price for international visitors) on four of the most popular Great Walks (Milford, Routeburn, Kepler and Abel Tasman Coast tracks).

DOC sought through this trial to obtain valuable information on the effectiveness of pricing as a tool to manage visitor pressure. It also informed DOC’s work to set and maintain a fair pricing system.

“The trial has demonstrated the merits of differential pricing to improve access for New Zealand residents, more fairly distribute the running costs and ensure the fees reflect the true value of these world-class walks,” says Eugenie Sage.  

“But due to the impact of COVID-19 on our tourism industry and international travel, differential pricing won’t be in place this year. However, it’s now a tried and tested tool DOC can draw upon when setting accommodation prices for future years.”

DOC is advising those overseas not to book onto a Great Walk while New Zealand border restrictions remain in place.

DOC will retain a fee for international children on the Great Walks set at half the adult rate. This is to discourage overseas organisations from making speculative bulk bookings of Great Walks accommodation, which hold space that may not be used.

“For anyone wanting to get out over winter, the Rakiura, Abel Tasman, Heaphy, Paparoa, Lake Waikaremoana and Abel Tasman Coast tracks offer a range of year-round walking and biking opportunities, but you must be well prepared,” says Eugenie Sage. 

Let someone know before you go, check the weather and track conditions and make sure you take the necessary food, water, clothing and equipment.