New Zealand's Great Walks sees visitor numbers surge as Kiwis head outdoors

New Zealand's ten Great Walks are proving more popular than ever this summer.

In the absence of international visitors the number of people heading into the great outdoors has not dropped off.

In fact, the parks are on track for a record season, thanks to thousands of intrepid Kiwis.

Ultimate Hikes runs guided trips along two of New Zealand's Great Walks - the Routeburn and Milford Track.

2020 was a tough year for this Queenstown-based tourism operator, but 2021's already looking up - due to the number of Kiwis clambering into our wilderness.

"We've had a really big increase in the number of New Zealand walkers, so it been really pleasing, we've pretty much doubled our New Zealand numbers," Ultimate Hikes track operations manager Shaun Liddy.

Kiwis are heading for the hills in such numbers, the Department of Conservation says bednight bookings on the Great Walks are up 9 percent on last season - and that was when our borders were open.

"The Great Walks and multi-day experiences are some of the best walks in the world so it's great to see New Zealanders getting out and enjoying this opportunity," says Department of Conservation strategy manager Tim Bamford.

For many of the walkers about to set out, it's a must-do on the bucket list.

"We can't travel overseas, so why not explore our beautiful country," one person says.

"I've always wanted to get out and see this part of New Zealand. I think every New Zealander should get out and try at least one of the Great Walks," another says.

And judging by the numbers already this summer, many of them are.