Kiwis book out bulk of Great Walks

The Routeburn traverses Fiordland National Park and Mount Aspiring National Park. Photo: Getty...
The Routeburn traverses Fiordland National Park and Mount Aspiring National Park. Photo: Getty Images

New Zealanders have scored more than 85 percent of spots over the 30th Great Walks season.

Bookings for the 2022-23 Great Walks season opened last week.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) said the demand was strong, with the figures showing Kiwis were keen to get into the outdoors despite borders reopening after being shut due to Covid-19.

New Zealanders accounted for more than 100,000 bed nights, with international visitors booking a further 17,500 bed nights.

DOC heritage and visitors director Tim Bamford said Australians made up roughly half of all international bookings.

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

"We love that Kiwis are choosing to take time out in nature on their Great Walks.

"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."

There was a slight increase of about five percent in the opening week bookings across the Great Walks compared to last year, he said.

The storm-damaged Heaphy Track was an exception.

"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."

He was pleased to see the gradual return of international visitors to the Great Walks and the communities that hosted them, with an increase from 11 percent of opening bookings last year to 15 percent of bookings this year.

Overseas bookings were expected to increase over the season, he said.

The vast majority of bookings were made by the public with 1.4 percent made by operators, businesses and agents, and school and community groups accounting for 0.7 percent.

While multi-day tramping was not for everyone, Bamford said there were overnight options 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."

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