Great Walks bookings welcome the return of international visitors for the full season


Bookings for New Zealand’s iconic Great Walks will open from 20 April, marking the return of international tourists for the full season, Minister of Conservation Willow-Jean Prime has announced.

“We know Kiwis and international travellers alike love our Great Walks with a passion,” Willow-Jean Prime said.

“When bookings opened this time last year, our borders still faced pandemic restrictions and tourists weren’t able to plan their visits with complete confidence. Now it’s very much a warm welcome to the world, to walk alongside New Zealanders.” 

While the Department of Conservation expects interest to be very high, there will still be plenty of options when the Milford Track kicks off the bookings season on 20 April.   

“While the Milford, Routeburn and Kepler always tend to book out very quickly, there’s plenty to get excited about on all the epic Great Walks,” Willow-Jean Prime said.

“Climbing over old lava flows on the Tongariro Northern Circuit, looking out for kiwi on Rakiura and takahē on the Heaphy, following the footsteps of goldminers on the Paparoa, paddling down the Whanganui River and staying at a marae - every Great Walks experience is special.

“There are different experiences to be had everywhere; hiking, running, biking, or paddling; camping or staying in a hut; doing part of a walk or the whole thing.

“That huge variety and the unbeatable combination of wildlife, incredible scenery and limitless fresh air means it’s not surprising the interest is always strong.

“It’s always really important to plan ahead for any outdoor adventure and I’d encourage people to think carefully about which walk is most suitable for you and your group. 

“Work out what fitness, skills and equipment are required. Check on the expected track and weather conditions and find out how you can limit your impact on the environment.

“In announcing the season opening, I also want to recognise the huge amount of biodiversity work which goes into the Great Walks network through the Department of Conservation’s partnership with mana whenua – iwi, hapū and whānau, and community groups and businesses. This includes a 10-year partnership with Air New Zealand which invests in six large Great Walks biodiversity projects.

“No matter which option you choose, each Great Walk will challenge your senses as you pass through our astonishing landscapes filled with cultural heritage and wildlife found nowhere else in the world,” Willow-Jean Prime said.

Editors Notes: 

Booking opening dates

Bookings on 9 of the 10 existing Great Walks open from the third week of April 2023.

Thursday 20 April 2023, 9.30 am

  • Milford Track

Wednesday 26 April 2023, 9.30 am

  • Kepler Track
  • Abel Tasman Coast Track
  • Rakiura Track
  • Whanganui Journey

Thursday 27 April 2023, 9.30 am

  • Routeburn
  • Paparoa Track
  • Tongariro Northern Circuit

Tuesday 16 May 2023, 9.30 am

  • *Heaphy Track – following extreme weather damage in 2022, the Heaphy Track can be booked from either end up to 19 October, with the full track expected to be open later in the year.

Still to be confirmed:

Humpridge Track:

DOC is currently working (with its partners) towards having the Hump Ridge Track attaining Great Walk status in October 2023.

The Hump Ridge can be booked in advance through the Hump Ridge Trust as their booking system is not limited to one season at a time. Once it is completed to Great Walk standard it will continue to be booked through the Hump Ridge Trust’s booking system.

Great Walks background:

The Great Walks were launched in 1992 to safeguard the precious environments they pass through.      Special protections put in place include limiting numbers for a set amount of hut and campsite spaces, and bylaws that prohibit camping within 500 metres of the track, except in designated campsites.