Trampers on Maori Beach, Rakiura Track Great Walk
Image: 90 Seconds | ©

Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


The 2018/19 Great Walks season opens this month, and DOC is reminding people with bookings to be prepared ahead of their trip.

Date:  03 October 2018

"Safety is always paramount in the outdoors, so before embarking on a Great Walk, please remember to check weather conditions and safety information and always tell a friend or family member where you’re going and when you expect to return," says DOC's Recreation, Tourism and Heritage Director Gavin Walker.

Those booked onto tracks within DOC's differential pricing trial (the Milford, Kepler, Routeburn and Abel Tasman Coast tracks) will need to remember their proof of 'ordinary residency' to show to rangers and visitor centre staff who will be checking eligibility for the lower New Zealand rate. Those without proof will be asked to pay the higher hut or campsite fee and will also face an administration cost of $50.

The Great Walks open on various dates during October with the final three – Milford, Routeburn and Kepler – opening on 23 October.

DOC's Great Walks are premier multi-day tracks that go through spectacular and diverse landscapes. In recent years the popularity of these walks has greatly increased and peak times can sell out very quickly when bookings open. DOC’s latest figures show visitor numbers on the walks have grown by around 42,000 since 2012 financial year, an increase of 54%.

"DOC is responding to this growth in order to maintain the high quality of these experiences and the natural heritage that makes them so special, and ensure continued access for New Zealanders," says Gavin Walker.

"The pricing trial is part of this response, alongside work to expand the Great Walks network where appropriate."

Work is underway to add two or three new Great Walks over the coming years. In addition to the West Coast’s Paparoa Track and Pike29 Memorial Track (due to open in September 2019), DOC is also running a process to find at least one additional Great Walk. Walks under consideration are Te Paki Coastal Track (Te Rerenga Wairua/Cape Reinga, Northland), Hump Ridge Track (Southland) and Queen Charlotte Track (Marlborough Sounds).

Find more information on the Great Walks, visitor safety, track alerts and the differential pricing trial.


What is the Great Walks season?

The Great Walks season is the peak visitor season. Bookings are required for huts and campgrounds as this is the period of high demand.

During this time bookings are required for all huts and campgrounds. More rangers are present on the tracks, tracks are managed to a higher standard and more facilities are provided at the huts and campsites.

Outside the Great Walks season facilities such as bridges and accommodation on many of the Great Walks are greatly reduced, weather-related risks increase and more experience is required.

The Great Walks 2018/19 season begins in October.

Dates for each walk:

  • Milford, Kepler and Routeburn tracks are bookable 23 October to 30 April
  • Whanganui Journey is bookable 1 October to 30 April
  • Tongariro is bookable 19 October to 30 April
  • Lake Waikaremoana, Abel Tasman Coast Track, Heaphy Track and Rakiura Track are bookable year-round, with lower priced winter rates on the Abel Tasman Coast and Rakiura tracks – 1 May to 30 September.
How many people book DOC accommodation on the Great Walks each year?
Number of people booking DOC accommodation
Great Walk 2013/14 2014/15 2015/16 2016/17 2017/18
Abel Tasman 31,647 36,421 42,104 43,116 43,404
Heaphy 5,831 6,854 7,795 8,116 8,009
Kepler 11,026 11,936 13,368 14,020 14,044
Lake Waikaremoana 6,332 6,757 7,381 6,509 8,002
Milford 7,244 7,107 7,109 7,473 7,315
Rakiura 4,277 5,096 6,030 6,124 6,663
Routeburn 13,853 14,225 16,030 17,010 17,418
Tongariro 7,655 7,996 8,872 8,515 8,653
Whanganui Journey 7,417 8,193 8,996 8,453 8,506
All Great Walks 95,282 104,585 117,685 119,336 122,014
How do these figures compare with this year's bookings so far with the differential pricing trial in place?

Great Walk booking information as of 31 July 2018 shows that the number of bed night bookings for the 2018/19 season increased for all tracks except Whanganui Journey.

So far, overall bed nights are up by 16% compared to bookings at the same time last year. This percentage is likely to change as the season progresses.

DOC has engaged an independent contractor to undertake an evaluation of the pricing trial.

The evaluation report is expected to be completed around the close of the Great Walks season (April 2019). DOC will be able to share more information regarding the outcomes of the trial once this report is complete.


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