Tourists to pay double to stay on Great Walks

International visitors will pay, in some cases double what Kiwis do, to stay overnight on New Zealand's four most popular Great Walks. 

Today's announcement by Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage is part of a seven-month trial during the 2018/19 season.

"New Zealand's nine Great Walks are premier tracks that pass through unique and spectacular scenery and are a magnet for international visitors," Ms Sage said on Saturday.

The Department of Conservation (DoC) spends $3.8 million more a year than what it makes from hut fees.

"DoC expects to recover up to an additional $2.9 million during the trial period from October to April 2019, without significantly reducing bookings and visitor demand."

About 120,000 a year tramp the nine Great Walks in New Zealand. Prices for huts for international visitors, including children, on the Milford Track will now be $140 per night; on the Kepler and Routeburn tracks, $130 per night; and Abel Tasman Coastal Walk, $75 per night. 

Hut prices for New Zealanders remain at $70 per night for the Milford, $65 per night for the Kepler and Routeburn, and $38 per night for the Abel Tasman Coastal Walk. New Zealanders under 18 will remain free of charge.

"International visitors currently make up around 60 percent of all those walking and using the Great Walks. Under the trial, fees for international visitors will be about double current rates on the Milford, Routeburn, Kepler and Abel Tasman Coast walks," said Ms Sage.

"DoC will continue to use the accommodation fee revenue in maintaining and enhancing the Great Walks Network.

"Great Walks will remain free of charge for New Zealand children to encourage our tamariki to engage with their natural heritage."

Bookings for New Zealand's nine Great Walks will open mid-June for the 2018/19 season.