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May 2018 Issue
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DOC in limbo on Great Walk price hike

Under the proposed policy, tourists would be charged $130 a night to stay at huts on the Routeburn Track. Photo: Herb Christophers/Creative Commons

A policy to double hut fees for tourists this year may not go ahead, as DOC says no decisions have been made on the controversial move.

During last year’s election campaign, National announced that it would double fees for international visitors on five Great Walks, and charge them 50 per cent more on other Great Walks and backcountry hut passes. The policy was to be implemented in October this year. The then Conservation Minister Maggie Barry said the Great Walks ran at a $1 million loss and international visitors should pay more. The policy was expected to generate $4 million a year in extra revenue.

However, DOC recreation, tourism and heritage director Gavin Walker said it still hadn’t decided whether the policy would go ahead.

“DOC is undertaking an internal assessment at present and no decisions have been made,” Walker said. “Differential pricing for international visitors to huts and campsites on our Great Walks continues to be an option the department is assessing. Once this assessment is complete, we would need to seek feedback from a wide range of partners before progressing this work   any further.”

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage confirmed that the policy was up in the air, as a proposed visitor levy would also bring in more money for DOC.

“Whether to have differential pricing and increase hut pass costs needs to be part of a wider consideration of policy options, including a visitor levy,” Sage said.