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September 2021 Issue
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How to book the Great Walks

Popular Great Walks like the Milford Track can book out within minutes of bookings opening. Photo: Matthew Cattin

Booking a Great Walk can be a hectic affair, and every year thousands of trampers are left disappointed after failing to secure their dates. While less popular tracks will have bunks available for booking year-round, the premiere walks sell out all weekend and holiday dates within minutes, and can sell out completely within a day. Though there is no sure-fire way to secure a booking, here are a few tips to give you the best possible chance.

Walk backwards

Most tracks are traditionally walked in a particular direction, due to reasons of difficulty, convenience or logistics. Apart from the Milford Track and Whanganui River Journey, however, the Great Walks can be walked against the grain. If you’re booking a track for a popular period or weekend, it can be worth trying to book in reverse order – as most punters will likely be trying to fill the huts in the traditional direction.

Two is company

Though it’s lovely to tramp with a large group of friends, it makes booking very difficult with the more popular tracks. Limit your group size, and maximise your chances of booking. If you’re comfortable with tramping solo, you may even be able to slot into the most popular Great Walks later in the piece.

Consider canvas

Tenting on the Great Walks costs a fraction of the price of huts, and there is often space at the campsites for many months after the huts are completely booked – especially during the shoulder seasons. You may be able to book a combination of huts and campsites if some huts are more popular than others.

Check again

Bookings can be cancelled at any time, so it’s worth re-checking the website, even when all hope feels gone. For the extremely popular tracks, such as the Milford, don’t forget that if ‘shopping carts’ are not secured and paid for, the bunks will become available again, so refresh, refresh, refresh.