New Zealand’s Department of Conservation (DoC) has announced it will increase charges for huts and campsites on some of the Great Walks to ease the strain on the ecosystems caused by a surge in the number of visitors.
Due to the increase in tourism, rising costs of maintenance have forced the price hike. During the past three years there had been a 35 percent increase in use in the Great Walks, and the department says the new charges will increase revenue from the walks by about $880,000 a year, which will go some way to bridging a funding gap.
On top of the high cost of removing waste from these remote and unspoiled destinations, these tracks are well-formed and have higher standard huts and facilities making them more expensive to build and maintain. DoC’s director of recreation, tourism and heritage, Gavin Walker, said:
“New Zealand’s nine Great Walks are our flagship walking experiences. Tracks like the Milford, Routeburn and Kepler are internationally famous and globally rank as some of the great ‘must do’ outdoor experiences.
“Increasingly more and more visitors to the Great Walks are international [about 60 per cent] and the feedback we often get is how amazing they are and how cheap. The reality is we are charging $54 a night for the Milford Track, arguably the greatest walk in the world, and this is well below the value that we are delivering for visitors.”
Fees across the Tasman were much higher with the Three Capes Track in Tasmania working out at roughly $180 per night. The DoC will maintain its ‘kids-go-free’ policy aimed at making Great Walks accessible for Kiwi families, and prices will increase from 6 percent to 30 percent depending on the track’s demand profile.