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Great Walks bookings open for 2021-22 season

A view to Mt Pillans from MacKinnon Pass on the Milford Track. Photo: Matthew Cattin

The Department of Conservation (DOC) is advising people to be prepared to secure their place on a Great Walk when bookings open on the morning of June 15, as the most popular slots are expected to be booked out within minutes. 

New Zealand’s 10 Great Walks are premium multi-day tramps (and one canoe journey) that showcase the best of New Zealand’s landscapes, as well as the country’s natural and cultural heritage. The walks are well-formed and have a higher standard of tracks and facilities. Many offer the chance to see rare and iconic species such as kākā, kea, takahē and whio.

Bookings for 2021-22 open over several days this week—starting with Milford, Heaphy and Rakiura tracks at 9.30am on June 15. 

“Even with border restrictions in place, the walks are likely to book up fast over holidays and long weekends,” said DOC Director of Heritage and Visitors, Steve Taylor. 

“Our advice is to get online when bookings open and have a couple of backup dates if you aren’t able to secure your first choice. Rather than just going for the usual suspects, like the Milford or Routeburn, consider the full network of Great Walks which are all incredible in differing ways.” 

The Great Walks Season runs from September to April for the southern Great Walks (Milford, Routeburn and Kepler) and Tongariro Northern Circuit. Outside the Great Walks season, these four walks should only be attempted by fit, experienced and well-equipped people as facilities are greatly reduced and there are additional hazards such as ice underfoot, river crossings and avalanches, said Taylor.

While differential pricing for international visitors is in place on seven Great Walks, DOC is advising people overseas not to book onto a Great Walk if New Zealand border restrictions remain in place for their country.

DOC’s booking data showed that 75 per cent more Kiwis undertook a Great Walk over summer (December 1, 2020 to February 28, 2021) compared to the previous year.

“We are lucky to have these walks on our doorstep and to be able to take time out in nature in this way,” said Taylor. “We were blown away by how popular the Great Walks were with New Zealanders last year.”

Book your Great Walk here