A two-year quest to select New Zealand's next Great Walk has come to an end.
The Department of Conservation (DOC) began the hunt for the latest addition to New Zealand's current lineup of 10 Great Walks in 2017.
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Three finalists were then singled out - Te Paki Coastal Track, Hump Ridge Track and Queen Charlotte Track - before the Hump Ridge Track was announced today as the winner.
The 61km track in Southland will now undergo a series of upgrades, transforming it from a two-night to a three-night experience, before its official status becomes operational in 2022.
"This will be a fantastic addition to New Zealand's Great Walks network. The track provides access to a spectacular southern coastline and forests, dramatic alpine tops and historic viaducts. Hump Ridge offers the walker remote and unforgettable beauty and history," Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage said in a statement.
"This is a significant investment in Southland tourism and the Tuatapere community. Great Walk status can draw more visitors to this beautiful part of the country."
Meanwhile, Sage says the process has revealed that the Queen Charlotte Track may not ever become a Great Walk due to concerns about the public's access to it in the future.
"The decision has been made not to progress with Queen Charlotte Track due to insurmountable challenges around surety of permanent public access across all sections of the track," a Government statement read.
Work on the Te Paki Coastal Track will focus on efforts to move it towards becoming a Great Walk in the future.
New Zealand's 11 Great Walks
- Lake Waikaremoana
- Tongariro Northern Circuit
- Whanganui Journey
- Abel Tasman Coast Track
- Heaphy Track
- Routeburn Track
- Milford Track
- Paparoa Track
- Kepler Track
- Hump Ridge Track
- Rakiura Track