Selecting new Great Walks
IntroductionWork is underway to progress the Hump Ridge Track in Southland as a potential new Great Walk.
This track was selected as part of a process which began in 2017 to identify existing tracks awesome enough to join New Zealand’s existing network of Great Walks.
The Great Walks are premium multi-day tramps (and one canoe journey) that showcase the best of New Zealand’s landscapes, and natural and cultural values. The network was originally developed to protect the natural environments surrounding very popular multi-day tramps, by investing in quality facilities and limiting accommodation.
Heightened domestic interest, international visitor growth and promotion of the Great Walks through DOC’s partnership with Air New Zealand has led to Great Walk bookings greatly increasing since 2012.
Additional Great Walks are intended to provide more space on the network, enable greater access for New Zealanders and encourage visitors to experience new parts of New Zealand, benefiting adjacent communities.
About the process
In 2017 DOC ran a public participation process to encourage iwi, communities and members of the public to nominate an existing walk which could be enhanced to become part of our Great Walks network. Submissions for initial proposals closed in November 2017, and DOC received a wide response, with 30 tracks from across the country proposed.
A panel comprising representatives from Federated Mountain Clubs, New Zealand Recreation Association, New Zealand Māori Tourism, Tourism New Zealand, Air New Zealand, Tourism Industry Aotearoa, as well as DOC, assessed all proposals in December 2017. This panel identified a shortlist of seven walks:
- Te Paki Coastal Track, Northland
- Aotea Track, Great Barrier Island
- Timber Trail, Waikato
- Tarawera Trail, Bay of Plenty
- Queen Charlotte Track, Marlborough
- Waiau-Toa/Molesworth, Canterbury
- Hump Ridge Track, Fiordland.
From this list, DOC selected Queen Charlotte, Hump Ridge and Te Paki Coastal tracks for further consideration based on the external panel's recommendations. These tracks were then evaluated regarding the potential visitor experience on each walk and any possible issues, costs, impacts and support for future development.
This evaluation showed that development of Hump Ridge Track and Te Paki Coastal Track remained potential options and that a local Great Walk could add real value to these communities. It also highlighted insurmountable challenges around surety of permanent public access on Queen Charlotte Track resulting in the decision not to progress this track as a Great Walk.
Hump Ridge Track
The Hump Ridge Track is being upgraded in order to join the Great Walk network by the end of 2023. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed in July 2019 between the Department of Conservation (DOC) and Tuatapere Hump Ridge Charitable Trust (who run an existing 2-night experience on the track). The agreement outlines how DOC and the Trust will work together to progress Hump Ridge Track’s development as a Great Walk.
Find out more about the Hump Ridge Great Walk project.
Te Paki Coastal Track
DOC is not progressing the proposal for a Great Walk in the Far North. From our subsequent work and conversations with iwi, hapu and whanau, it is clear that any visitor opportunity in the Far North needs to be underpinned by thriving biodiversity as well as exploring the area’s rich cultural heritage. Iwi have therefore asked that we support conservation efforts in the Far North first, and so ensuring the protection and enhancement of the area is the current focus.
In the long-term, any proposal to develop a major walking attraction in the Far North would need to reflect a new partnership model focused on regenerative tourism outcomes (i.e. it has positive benefits for people and nature). Further work would be needed to understand what form this might take.
How were walks evaluated?
Walks needed to align with the existing Great Walks and highlight the very best of New Zealand’s natural and historic heritage.
- Key considerations for any new walk included:
- Does it provide outstanding opportunities to engage with New Zealand’s nature, history and Māori culture?
- Does it have the support of community groups, along with local whānau, hapū and iwi?
- Will it bring benefits for local communities?
- How feasible will it be to bring the track up to Great Walk standard?
- Does it enhance access for New Zealanders to their Great Walks network and conservation heritage?
- What are the costs and environmental impacts of undertaking this work?