Great Walks bookings re-opening

Abel Tasman coastal track. Photo: RNZ
Abel Tasman coastal track. Photo: RNZ
Bookings for most of New Zealand's Great Walks open this week, but trampers keen on two of the most popular ones will have to wait a little longer.

From Tuesday, bookings will start opening for domestic travellers on seven of the Great Walks.

But the Conservation Minister said storm damage on the popular Routeburn and Milford tracks is still being repaired, and cannot be booked until at least next month.

Eugenie Sage said the Department of Conservation (DOC) is advising overseas visitors not to book while travel restrictions remain in place, which will mean less competition for hut space.

She also urged domestic travellers to be well-prepared.

"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," Sage said.

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

Sage said that when international visitors are allowed to visit New Zealand, the differential pricing system introduced over the previous two Great Walks seasons will be temporarily lifted.

"The (fair pricing) 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.

"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."

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