Great Walks to see great numbers visiting this summer

Conservation

The Department of Conservation expects a busy season this summer with the return of overseas visitors and high numbers of New Zealanders taking time out in nature, Minister of Conservation Poto Williams says.

As the temperature rose, so did visitor numbers in October, as just under half (44%) of New Zealanders visited a protected natural area and one in three (29%) visited heritage sites.

"Many DOC sites are reporting a real upsurge in visitors. For example, October visitor numbers to Franz Josef Glacier are more than double those for the same month last year and are sitting at around 50% of what they were pre-pandemic," says Poto Williams.

Compared to last year, summer bed night bookings on Great Walks have increased by 47%.

"This reflects a strong recovery for international bookings which are already up to around two-thirds of pre-pandemic levels." Poto Williams said.

"The increase in international bookings builds on the number of New Zealanders continuing to book on the Great Walks at very high numbers – up 14% on last year."

"While it’s fantastic to see visitors returning, it’s important we also look after our wildlife, communities and culture that make Aotearoa so special and take care of our back yard."

DOC is encouraging everyone travelling New Zealand to follow the Tiaki Promise and protect nature, keep New Zealand clean, drive carefully and show respect to others and the environment.

"Issues DOC saw last year included unauthorised pets in conservation areas, reckless boating and four-wheel driving, litter and vandalism. All these behaviours harm wildlife such as dolphins and birds – many are raising their young at this time of year."

"We want to see everyone enjoy a safe, respectful and restorative summer and it’s up to all of us to play our part."