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The Great Walks by the numbers

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September 2020 Issue

We’ve crunched the numbers to work out how much moolah the Great Walks will set you back if you walk them during the Great Walk season.

We polled 250 Wilderness readers to see how the Great Walks stack up. Is the Milford Track really the finest in the world? Which track tops Kiwi trampers bucket lists? And is there really a Great Walk that costs $12?

Which walk is the favourite?

The legendary Routeburn Track has reigned supreme, raking in more than a quarter of the votes, followed by the Heaphy, beloved for its constantly changing scenery. The dramatic Kepler came in next, nudging out the Milford ‘finest walk in the world’ Track by a considerable margin. The North Island walks didn’t fare so well, pulling a combined total of 10 per cent of the votes. The often-closed Paparoa Track was nobody’s favourite, but we suspect that may change in future.

The bucket list tramps

While the Paparoa Track failed to rank on our reader’s favourite walks, it has stormed its way to the top of readers’ to-do lists, taking out 26 per cent of the votes. The Milford Track’s golden reputation may have helped it slide into second place, while the isolated Rakiura Track takes out the third spot. Underrated Waikaremoana Track has failed to intrigue our readers, with less than three per cent intending to walk the track. 

Ticking off the greats

Wilderness readers are a well-travelled bunch, and an impressive 53 per cent of respondents have ticked off five or more Great Walks, with just one respondent completing all 10. The average Wilderness reader has completed 4.7 Great Walks.

The cost of Greatness

We’ve crunched the numbers to work out how much moolah the Great Walks will set you back if you walk them during the Great Walk season.

The $12 Great Walk: Though it will cost most trampers to travel to Stewart Island, once there, the fabulously priced Rakiura Track costs just $12 if camping, or $48 to stay in huts. Being a loop track, it voids track transport costs, so trampers can splurge on bug repellant. Total: $48.

A coin-saving circuit:The three-night Tongariro Northern Circuit costs $108 for huts or $45 for campsites. Being a loop, there are no hidden costs.

Total: $108.

Taxi!: The Lake Waikaremoana Track sets trampers back $96 in hut fees or $42 to camp, but a $50 water taxi is usually tacked on to the cost if road transport isn’t arranged.

Total: $146.

Cost to coast: The new Paparoa Track costs $90 for two nights, and there are no camping options for thrifty trampers. Transport from the track ends in Punakaiki and Blackball has to be arranged, costing upwards of $70 for a package.

Total: from $160.

Top of the world prices: The three-night Kepler Track costs a hefty $195 if trampers choose to stay in huts, or $60 to camp. With no track transport involved, you can put away your credit card after booking.

Total: $195.

Well-priced – if Abel to camp: Four nights on the beautiful Abel Tasman Coast Track costs just $60 if camping, and $152 for bunks. Tack on the water taxi from Totaranui and the cost floats up.

Total: $203.

Cheap… if you BYO: The three-day Whanganui Journey costs $64 in hut fees or $30 for campsites. Add in the cost of canoe hire and transport – around $170/person – and the price stacks up.

Total: $234 ($284 for the five-day journey).

A Heaph-ty price tag: With nearly 500km separating the track ends, the Heaphy Track was always going to be expensive. It’s $102 for three hut nights or $42 for camping, but track transport ranges from $170.

Total: $272.

The priciest walk in the world: The Milford Track costs $210 straight off the bat, with no camping options to lighten the load. Track transport is essential and ranges from $230.

Total: $440

* Note: Bunk nights were used to calculate the total price of each walk, with the number of days per track taken from DOC’s walking recommendations.

Special thanks to our readers who completed our survey and offered advice and tips for walking the Great Walks. We offered all participants the chance to win a SOL Emergency Bivvy. Our five winners are: Janet Downs, Tess, Anthony Bus, Phil Fairbrother, L.A. Gingell.