A look at annual visitor figures and trends to selected popular public conservation sites.

2019-20 visitor figures

DOC has released visitor data from selected popular public conservation areas for the year ending February 2020, prior to COVID-19 travel restrictions. This data suggests another year of high visitor demand.

Visitation to 9 out of 15 sites had increased by at least 5% over the last 3 years and 9 out of 20 sites had increased by at least 5% when compared with the previous year. Some sites such as the Mangorei Track and Blue Pools have doubled in visits compared to 2016/17.

There was a decrease in visits at a number of places, often due to the impacts of extreme weather. Hooker Valley Track, Milford Sound/Piopiotahi and Franz Josef Glacier/Kā Roimata o Hine Hukatere had partial track or access closures which contributed to decreases in visitation.

Annual visitor figures to selected popular public conservation sites up to February 2020 (PDF, 2,283K)

2018-19 visitor figures

Summer 2018/19 visitor data, from some of the DOC's top visitor sites, showed a big season despite an overall slowing in international visitor growth. International visitor arrivals to New Zealand had grown by 43 percent in the previous five years. Visits to Otago's Blue Pools were estimated to have risen from 3,400 to 102,000 in the previous three years.

In the year ending January 2019 compared with January 2018, overseas visitor arrivals were up 150,000 (4%) to a total of 3.8 million. The estimated growth rate for international visitors to national parks was a little higher at 9%.

This slowing of visitor growth was reflected at several key conservation areas. Milford Sound (840,000 visits) and Franz Josef (759,000 visits) both saw 3% growth compared with the previous year and Tongariro Alpine Crossing 1% (142,500 visits).

Places that bucked this trend of lower visitor growth compared to the previous year were Rakiura/Stewart Island's Ulva Island increasing by 76% (17,000 visits) and Northland’s Tane Mahuta Walk up by 44% (152,000 visits).

Annual visitor figures to selected popular public conservation sites up to February 2019 (PDF, 2,607K)

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