Great Walks will be cheaper for tourists once borders reopen

The Hump Ridge Track.
The Hump Ridge Track. Photo credit: Liz Carlson

Tourists who are able to book one of New Zealand's Great Walks can expect to pay less this year.

Reservations are set to open next week - with the exception of the Milford and Routeburn tracks, which are undergoing storm repairs. 

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage says the previous rate of paying two times what residents pay was too high.

"Some of the use by international visitors dropped, so the department is now proposing when the borders reopen, when we have international visitors again, they will pay 1.5 times what New Zealanders pay.

The Department of Conservation is advising people overseas not to book onto a Great Walk while New Zealand border restrictions remain in place. Most foreigners are still unable to enter the country, with the pandemic still raging overseas. Despite New Zealand not having a single new case for two weeks, Friday saw a record increase in the global number of confirmed infections - 130,000.

Sage is also warning keen hikers not to head into one of New Zealand's Great Walks blindfolded.

Two trampers went missing in Kahurangi National Park for 19 days last month, and were found alive last week.

Sage says despite their luck, there are still risks.

"For anyone wanting to get out over winter, the Rakiura, Abel Tasman, Heaphy, Paparoa, Lake Waikaremoana and Abel Tasman Coast tracks offer a range of year-round walking and biking opportunities, but you must be well prepared," said Sage.

"Let someone know before you go, check the weather and track conditions and make sure you take the necessary food, water, clothing and equipment."

Booking for tracks such as the Abel Tasman and Heaphy are set to open next week. Bookings for Milford and Routeburn are expected to open in July or August.