Southland's Hump Ridge Track named next Great Walk

A lookout on the Hump Ridge Track. Photo: Department of Conservation
A lookout on the Hump Ridge Track. Photo: Department of Conservation
Southland's Hump Ridge Track has been announced as New Zealand's next Great Walk, which will mean $5 million in upgrades for the walk.

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage announced this morning the 61km tramp, in the far south of Fiordland near Tuatapere, will join 10 others in the country to gain the prestigious title. This includes the West Coast's Paparoa Track, due to open on December 1 this year. 

About $5 million would be spent to bring it to "Great Walk Standard'' and upgrades would be completed by 2022.  The track remains open in the meantime

Ms Sage said it would be a "fantastic addition to New Zealand's Great Walks network".

"The track provides access to a spectacular southern coastline and forests, dramatic alpine tops and historic viaducts. Hump Ridge offers the walker remote and unforgettable beauty and history.''

The Department of Conservation would now work with the Tuatapere Hump Ridge Trust undertake the improvements and change it from a two to three-night walk.

"This is a significant investment in Southland tourism and the Tuatapere community. Great Walk status can draw more visitors to this beautiful part of the country.

"Great Walks showcase some of the best parts of our country and are a great way to enable more people to enjoy and be inspired by nature to help protect it.''

The Hump Ridge Track. Photo: Department of Conservation
The Hump Ridge Track. Photo: Department of Conservation
Ms Sage signed a memorandum of understanding with the trust to progress the work.

The track was one of three finalists in the competition to be the next Great Walk after a call for nominations in 2017, along with the Te Paki Coastal Track in Northland and the Queen Charlotte Track in Marlborough.

The department would also progress plans for Te Paki to become a Great Walk; however, it would not do so with Queen Charlotte due to "insurmountable challenges around surety of permanent public access across all sections of the track''.

"Queen Charlotte is a fantastic and highly popular track already achieving great results for the region.

"Doc will continue to support the work of the landowners, commercial operators, Marlborough District Council, iwi and community that has made this track the success it is today."

They were all phenomenal walks, which meant the decision was tough, she said.

"I would like to acknowledge the hard work and commitment of the proponents for all three tracks.''

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