New Zealand Great Walks spots sell in record time as international tourists return

If you thought buying concert tickets was hard, try securing a spot on one of New Zealand's Great Walks.

With the return of international tourists this year, spots are selling out in record time. 

Many Kiwis caught the tramping bug over the past two years and fewer feet meant tracks weren't crowded and there was less competition. 

But this year, Kiwis' exclusive access is over. 

"I think it's really encouraging that we're seeing tourists come back into the country," Department of Conservation (DoC) booking services manager Ross Shearer said.

The 7480 available spaces on the Milford Track booked out in a record three minutes - five times quicker than last year's 15 minutes.

So far, data shows 80 percent of bunk space has been booked by New Zealanders, 10 percent by Australians, five percent by people from the US and the remaining five percent was taken by a mix of overseas customers.

"As the season goes on and they fill up the offpeak times that's really good for [the] local economy," Shearer said.

But DoC said we won't get back to pre-pandemic levels until more airlines start coming to New Zealand.

Kepler, Paparoa and Tongariro spots are being released on Friday - if you miss out on a hut, camping is available on some of the tracks.

Watch the full story above.