DOC considering charging tourists for Great Walks

A tramper walking a mountain trail (File)
A tramper walking a mountain trail (File)

A former boss of the Department of Conservation (DoC) is questioning the idea of charging trampers to hike the country's Great Walks.

DoC is struggling to keep up with demand on all 12 Great Walks and is considering charging everyone an access fee to walk the track on top of paying to stay in their huts.

Last year, 46,000 New Zealanders and more than 70,000 tourists walked the Great Walks.

The most popular track is Abel Tasman National Park which is walked by 15,000 Kiwis and 26,000 tourists annually.

Canterbury Mountaineering Club President and former head of DoC Hugh Logan says the Great Walks need to be protected.

"The national parks, the conservation areas of New Zealand, are the common heritage of all New Zealanders, they're our places."

DoC is considering a number of options including charging to access the track, higher hut charges for overseas tourists and a 'conservation tax' which would be charged at the border.

However walkers on the route weren't so sure.

"Some of the great walk prices are actually already quite expensive," says Deborah Freeman.

While Mike Humphreys, who is visiting from the UK, didn't disagree with the idea.

"It's not really a bad thing to pay for it. If I'm enjoying it, why not?"

If DoC does decide to push through any extra charges, it will not only have to win over the public but the government too.