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The Department of Conservation (Doc) is advising people to be prepared to secure their place on a Great Walk when bookings open, as the most popular slots are expected to be booked out within minutes.
New Zealand’s 10 Great Walks are premium multi-day tramps (and one canoe journey) that showcase the best of New Zealand’s landscapes, as well as the country’s natural and cultural heritage. The walks are well-formed and have a higher standard of tracks and facilities. Many offer the chance to see rare and iconic species such as kākā, kea, takahē and whio.
Director of heritage and visitors Steve Taylor said, even with border restrictions in place, the walks were likely to book up fast over holidays and long weekends.
“Our advice is to get online when bookings open and have a couple of back-up dates if you aren’t able to secure your first choice. Rather than just going for the usual suspects, like the Milford or Routeburn, consider the full network of Great Walks which are all incredible in differing ways.”
The Great Walks Season runs from September to April for the southern Great Walks (Milford, Routeburn and Kepler) and Tongariro Northern Circuit.
Outside the Great Walks Season these four walks should only be attempted by fit, experienced and well-equipped people as facilities are greatly reduced and there are additional hazards such as ice underfoot, river crossings and avalanches, Mr Taylor said.
“Make sure you choose a walk that’s right for you and your group. Doc’s website and visitor centres have loads of information and advice about how to look after yourself and really make the most of your time.”
While differential pricing for international visitors is in place on seven Great Walks, Doc is advising people overseas not to book onto a Great Walk if New Zealand border restrictions remain in place for their country.
He was blown away by how popular the walks were with New Zealander's last year.
“Our booking data showed that 75% more Kiwis undertook a Great Walk over summer (1 December 2020 to 28 February 2021) compared to the previous year. We are lucky to have these walks on our doorstep and to be able to take time out in nature in this way.
“For people unable to undertake a Great walk this year, New Zealand is famous for its outstanding recreation network and there are plenty of other options to get outdoors, even over winter.”
To book, head to www.doc.govt.nz/greatwalks
Opening dates (bookings open from 9.30 am each day):
- 15 June – Milford, Heaphy and Rakiura tracks
- 16 June – Routeburn, Paparoa and Lake Waikaremoana tracks and Whanganui Journey
- 17 June – Kepler, Tongariro Northern Circuit and Abel Tasman Coast tracks