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International visitors to pay more than locals for Great Walks

International visitors will pay more than locals for DOC huts and campsites on New Zealand’s four most popular Great Walks as part of a trial for the 2018/19 season, Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage announced today.

“New Zealand’s nine Great Walks are premier tracks that pass through unique and spectacular scenery and are a magnet for international visitors,” Eugenie Sage said.

“The seven month trial from October 2018 to April 2019 will provide information on the effectiveness of pricing as a tool to manage visitor pressure. It is also part of setting and maintaining a fair pricing system for New Zealanders.

“The Department of Conservation’s (DOC) investment in maintaining nine Great Walks exceeds the revenue from users’ hut fees by up to $3.8 million each year.

“DOC expects to recover up to an additional $2.9 million during the trial period, without significantly reducing bookings and visitor demand. The increased accommodation fees may also encourage overseas visitors to use less visited Great Walks where prices remain the same.”

Prices for huts for international visitors, including children, on the Milford Track will be $140 per night, on the Kepler and Routeburn $130 per night and Abel Tasman Coastal Walk $75 per night.  Hut prices for New Zealanders remain at $70 per night for the Milford, $65 per night for the Kepler and Routeburn, and $38 per night for the Abel Tasman Coastal Walk. New Zealanders under 18 will remain free of charge.

“The year ending March 2018 was another record year for visitor numbers to public conservation land with 1.75 million people, or 52 percent of all international tourists visiting a national park last year, up 5 percent, on the previous year," Eugenie Sage said.

“International visitors currently make up around 60 percent of all those walking and using the Great Walks. Under the trial, fees for international visitors will be about double current rates on the Milford, Routeburn, Kepler and Abel Tasman Coast walks.

“DOC will continue to use the accommodation fee revenue in maintaining and enhancing the Great Walks Network,” Eugenie Sage said.

“Great Walks will remain free of charge for New Zealand children to encourage our tamariki to engage with their natural heritage.”

“With the current mix of accommodation options (from camping to private lodges) the Great Walk network continues to cater for all budgets and provide great value for all visitors.”

Bookings for New Zealand’s nine Great Walks will open over a two-week period for the 2018/19 season, beginning 12 June 2018. This year DOC is rolling out a new booking system which will enable people to manage their bookings and allow them to receive timely health and safety information.

Details of when bookings open for each Great Walk are on DOC’s website. DOC’s new booking service will be introduced in phases, beginning with Great Walks.