Visitor numbers top 1 million at Mt Cook National Park

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Aoraki Mt Cook. Photo: Peter McIntosh
Annual visitor numbers to Aoraki Mt Cook National Park have exceeded one million for the first time, Department of Conservation (Doc) visitor sites data shows.

In the year to February 28 an estimated 1,040,000 people visited the park, up 11% on the previous year.

Visitor numbers are based on vehicle movements, information provided by Doc said.

Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage said the statistics showed another big season for visitor numbers at Doc sites, despite an overall slowing in international visitor growth.

"Magnificent places such as Aoraki will always draw New Zealanders and international visitors in large numbers.

"With more people wanting to connect with this Topuni site, Doc has worked to make sure facilities are adequate, visitors have a safe, high-quality experience, and the outstanding natural and cultural values of the national park are protected."

Since 2010, Doc has invested more than $16.5 million in visitor facilities within the park, including a new visitor centre, road improvements, tracks, and more toilets.

An estimated $122,000 was also spent to repair the Hooker Valley Track after extreme weather damage in March.

The data said international visitor arrivals to New Zealand have increased 43% in the last 5 years.

In the year ending January 2019 compared with January 2018, overseas visitor arrivals were up 150,000 (4%) to 3.8 million.

The estimated growth rate for international visitors to national parks was 9% per annum.Presently, around 3.9 million New Zealanders visit public conservation areas (from national parks to marine reserves) at least once a year, alongside around 1.8 million international visitors.

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