DOC has $12.7m to build one or two new Great Walks, depending on the cost, and will make a final decision by the end of the year. It plans to open the new track in time for the 2021/22 Great Walk season.
The criteria for the new walk said at least one walk must be in the North Island, so Te Paki would appear to be a shoe-in. The walk currently has no huts, but has four beachside campsites – trampers will be interested to see whether DOC opts to build huts or create the first camping-only Great Walk.
The other two finalists also raise the possibility of the first semi-private Great Walk.
Both the Hump Ridge and Queen Charlotte tracks are managed by trusts and and walkers pay a fee to walk them – the Hump Ridge costs $195 to walk, including two nights shared accommodation in private lodges. The Queen Charlotte Track crosses private land and walkers must pay an $18 fee on top of hut fees and it has a mix of private accommodation and DOC campsites.
DOC said it hasn’t decided whether it will develop a public-private partnership model for the next walk.
The department will further investigate the three options and will consult with local community groups and other interest groups, but there will be no further open public consultation.
DOC director general Lou Sanson also left the door open for developing two other walks which were part of seven walks under consideration.
The shortlist was recommended by a panel comprising Federated Mountain Clubs, New Zealand Recreation Association, New Zealand Māori Tourism, Tourism New Zealand, Tourism Industry Aotearoa and DOC.
The panel chose the shortlist from 30 walks which were proposed by the public last year.
Te Paki Coastal Track, Northland is a 48km one-way track that takes around three days to complete. This track follows the Te Paki Stream before reaching the coast at Te Oneroa-a-Tōhē/90-Mile Beach, past Te Rerenga Wairua/Cape Reinga and finishing at Piwhane/Spirits Bay. Offering a wild and remote coastal walk along spectacular beaches, the track traverses the one of the most significantly spiritual areas for iwi, hapū and whānau in Aotearoa.
Hump Ridge Track, southern Fiordland is a 61km loop track taking three days to complete. Beginning and ending in Te Waewae Bay, this track takes trampers from the coastline up through a picture book of forest types to alpine tops. The walk features spectacular alpine and coastal views, beaches and historic wooden viaducts.
Queen Charlotte Track
Queen Charlotte Track, Marlborough is a 71km one-way track that takes three to five days to complete. Walkers begin the track at historic Meretoto/Ship Cove – Captain Cook’s landing site, experiencing views of picturesque bays, coastal forest and traditional New Zealand baches along the way. This track is also a Great Ride and offers a range of accommodation and flexibility along its route through to Anakiwa in the Grove Arm of Queen Charlotte Sound.