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Great Walk contenders announced

The Hump Ridge Track is one of the finalists. Photo: Alistair Hall

DOC has released seven contenders for the next Great Walk, but it might only be able to afford to build one new walk, not two.

Last year DOC got $12.7m to develop two new Great Walks by 2021. After 30 tracks were proposed by the public, the options have been narrowed to seven, which are:

  • Te Paki Coastal Walk, Northland
  • Aotea Track, Great Barrier Island
  • Timber Trail, Waikato
  • Tarawera Trail, Bay of Plenty
  • Queen Charlotte Track, Marlborough
  • Waiau-Toa/Molesworth, Canterbury
  • Hump Ridge Track, Fiordland

The shortlist was released just days after the government decided to double the fees tourists pay on four of the Great Walks.

The location of the new Great Walk, or walks, will be announced later this year. DOC has said there won’t be any more public consultation before choosing the walk. But, there will be ‘engagement’ with local communities in the affected areas.

In September last year, DOC asked the public what the next Great Walk should be. It received more than 30 submissions, with 20 located in the North Island and 10 in the South Island.

The shortlist was chosen by a panel comprising representatives from Federated Mountain Clubs, New Zealand Recreation Association, New Zealand Māori Tourism, Tourism New Zealand, Air New Zealand, Tourism Industry Aotearoa and DOC.

The key criteria for new walks included opportunities to engage with Māori culture; accessibility for New Zealanders; cost and environmental impacts to bring the track and facilities up to the Great Walks standard. Priority would also be given to a North Island walk. Options will vary in relation to the level of cost required.

Last year DOC got $12.7m to develop two new Great Walks (by contrast, the Paparoa Great Walk currently under construction is expected to cost $10m). However, the department now says it might only be able to develop one.

“Our thinking has evolved since the process began last year when we were looking at two new Great Walks,” DOC director of recreation, tourism and heritage Jennie Marks said. “Depending on options, we may still achieve two walks or decide to invest in only one Great Walk if it is an outstanding option that requires significant new tracks and building upgrades.”