Conservation Minister Maggie Barry has today started the process of finding out from New Zealanders where they want DOCs next Great Walks to be.
“DOC is adding two new Great Walks to its existing 9 multi-day hikes to cater to the increasing number of visitors who want to connect with nature and walk through our stunning natural landscapes,” Ms Barry says.
“This is New Zealanders’ first opportunity to say where our next Great Walks should be. DOC is looking for proposals for existing tracks that could be enhanced to meet the standard of the Great Walks brand – multi-day, with good toilets, huts and car parking.”
“The Government has invested $76 million through Budget 2017 on new and upgraded tourism infrastructure for the Department of Conservation to allow it to better manage the impact of visitor growth, while also protecting our biodiversity and threatened species through projects like Predator Free 2050.”
DOC will assess each proposal against a selection criteria including benefits for conservation, ease of access for New Zealanders, opportunities to engage with Māori culture and overall feasibility.
“Our existing nine Great Walks are some of New Zealand’s best-known nature experiences and increasingly more New Zealanders and international visitors are choosing these multiday adventures,” Ms Barry says.
“Developing two new walks presents an opportunity for people to enjoy different types of landscapes and explore lesser-visited parts of the country.”
“Any new Great Walks need to have the strong support and buy-in from their local communities so they’re excited and ready to welcome and host visitors.”
The new Great Walks will be selected via a two-step process
“DOC will accept initial proposals until 30 November this year which will be assessed by an external independent panel and subject to consultation with iwi,” Ms Barry says.
“Submitters whose ideas meet the criteria and have potential will then be asked for full proposals. Final decisions on the two new Great Walk locations are expected by July 2018 with the walks open for visitor use by the summer of 2021.”
The Great Walks consultation page is www.doc.govt.nz/newgreatwalks
Further informationCurrently DOC offers nine Great Walks: Rakiura Track Milford Track Kepler Track Routeburn Track Heaphy Track Abel Tasman Coast Track Whanganui Journey (technically a paddle not a walk) Lake Waikaremoana Tongariro Northern Circuit Paparoa Track is currently in development on the West Coast. The two walks selected through this process will make a total of twelve. Four of the Great Walks are above 90% occupancy. On the day that bookings opened this year 71% of the spaces on the Milford Track were booked. In the first week of booking being available 50% of the spaces were purchased by New Zealanders.