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June 2021 Issue
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Numbers on tourist tracks plummet

The number of people walking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing plummeted by 72 per cent in the 2020/21 season. Photo: Matthew Cattin

Tramper numbers on some of the country’s rockstar tourist tracks have plummeted due to Covid-19, while some local tracks have seen a boost in numbers, according to DOC.

The department released figures for tracks and huts around the country over summer, which showed huge declines on tracks popular with international tourists. Visitors to Milford Sound were down 78 per cent on 2019/2020 while Franz Josef Glacier and the Tongariro Alpine Crossing were both down 72 per cent. Numbers on the Blue Lakes and Tasman Glacier walks were also down 67 per cent. DOC visitor centres saw a 59 per cent reduction in visitors, falling from 640,000 to 262,000.

But tracks popular with Kiwis or near cities were mostly stable or grew. The Pilgrims Way Coastal Track at Godley Head near Christchurch had the biggest increase, up 130 per cent, followed by the Otago Central Rail Trail, which increased by 67 per cent.

There was also a resurgence of Kiwis on the Great Walks, which had a 75 per cent increase in New Zealanders over summer and over 48,300 trampers overall.

Of the 10 Great Walks, six had an increase in visitors and four were down, including the Abel Tasman Coastal Track (down nine per cent), Rakiura Track (down three per cent), Kepler Track (down 23 per cent) and the Tongariro Northern Circuit (down 26 per cent).

Campgrounds proved popular, with 108,000 campers over summer, led by Totaranui Campground in Abel Tasman National Park with 10,130 campers.

About 30,500 people stayed at a bookable hut, with the enormous 80-bunk Pinnacles Hut in Coromandel proving the most popular with 4990 visitors – it also had the highest occupancy rate of 74 per cent.