Milford Track books out as tourists return

It's the quick and the dead on booking day for Fiordland's premiere tramping route.

All 22320 bunks have filled up across the 186 day season.

The Milford Track has filled with hikers in under 14 minutes, as the 30th Great Walk season officially opens.

At 9.30am today the first trail went on sale to trampers around the world, looking to claim New Zealand's biggest prize for hikers.

"The Milford Track in particular always has very high demand," says Ross Shearer, DoC's Booking Service Manager.

After two seasons of closed borders and domestic-only access to the network, trampers were joined by international bookers, trying to secure bunks on New Zealand's best-known hike.

Milford broke records last year, booking out in under 15 minutes for the first time. The added pressure from international bookings has only upped competition for the famous Fiordland hike.

"One country I'd expect to see a lift from is Australia," says Shearer. "As our closest neighbours, the access is so much easier."

The Great Walk Season runs from September 2022 to April 2023, by which time borders are expected to be fully open to the rest of the world.

With leisure travellers from 60 additional countries now free to enter the country, there is the potential of walkers logging on from even further afield to secure their summer hiking plans.

Shearer says that he feels sorry for hikers unable to secure their first choice, but the strict numbers are kept to conserve the landscape.

"We try to protect the beauty of those places the Great Walks pass through."

There are only 120 walkers in the bunks between Lake Te Anau and Sandfly point, at any one time.

However, Shearer says the Great Walk system has plenty of options and availability for walkers, who have a couple of backup dates and walks in mind.

"The good thing is there are 10 great walks and outside of those high demand walks and peak seasons there's always plenty of spaces."

The next group of walks opening for booking from 9:30am tomorrow are the Lake Waikaremoana Track, Heaphy Track and Routeburn Track.

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