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DOC raises Great Walk fees

Luxmore Hut on the Kepler Track will now cost $65/night per person. An increase of 20 per cent. Photo: Daniel Deans

It’s now going to be more expensive to experience New Zealand’s Great Walks.

The Department of Conservation has upped the price of huts and campsites for most of the walks, an increase ranging from six to 30 per cent. They expect to bring in an extra $880,000 a year with the added fees.

The price increases for huts on seven of the nine Great Walks is dependent upon popularity; for example, the highest increase is for the Milford Track, where huts increase in price by 30 per cent, bringing the hut fee from $54 to $70 a night. The fee increases exclude the Whanganui Journey and Lake Waikaremoana.

Campsite fees range from seven to 11 per cent; only about $1-2 more per night depending on track use.

DOC is also introducing seasonal pricing for huts on two of the Great Walks; Abel Tasman and Rakiura.

DOC director of recreation, tourism and heritage Gavin Walker says the Great Walks are cheap in comparison to high profile tracks in other parts of the world.

“Increasingly more and more visitors to the Great Walks are international (about 60%) and the feedback we often get is how amazing they are and how cheap,” Walker said in a statement. “The reality is we are charging $54 a night for the Milford Track – arguably the greatest walk in the world and this is well below the value that we are delivering for visitors. In comparison, the ‘Three Capes Track’ in Tasmania works out at roughly $180 a night.”

According to DOC, the department has a $1.2 million funding shortfall each year on its Great Walks.

They say the decision to increase fees will help cover the high costs of removing waste from the tracks and maintaining what are high-quality facilities.

“Any revenue earned above what is needed to sustain the Great Walk experience will be reinvested back into the conservation and recreation priorities of the Department,” Walker said.

This is the first pricing review of the Great Walks in five years. The new prices take effect on May 16, when the first Great Walks bookings open.

New peak period (Oct-April) pricing for Great Walk huts

Tracks Present Proposed Increase
Milford $54 $70 30%
Kepler $54 $65 20%
Routeburn $54 $65 20%
Tongariro $32 $36 13%
Lake Waikaremoana $32 $32 0%
Abel Tasman $32 $38 19%
Heaphy $32 $34 6%
Rakiura $22 $24 9%

There has only been a change in off-peak pricing at huts along the Heaphy Track. These have gone up six per cent from $32 to $34.

New peak period (Oct-April) pricing for Great Walk campsites

Tracks Present Proposed Increase
Kepler $18 $20 11%
Routeburn $18 $20 11%
Tongariro $14 $15 7%
Lake Waikaremoana $14 $14 0%
Abel Tasman $20 $20 0%
Heaphy $14 $15 7%
Rakiura $6 $6 0%

There has only been a change in off-peak pricing at campsites on the Abel Tasman Coast Track. These have gone up seven per cent from $14 to $15.