Walking New Zealand

New Zealand Great Walk: Great Walks myth busting

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We’ve been blown away by the interest New Zealander’s have shown over the last couple of years in undertakin­g a Great Walk.

Last year, defying all expectatio­ns with borders closed, on the first day of bookings opening for each walk, numbers were up an average of 40% compared to the previous year. This year, they were up another 70%! But that doesn’t mean you’ve missed your chance get out on a Great Walk this year as you’ll see below.

The flip side of all this interest has meant there’s been a wee bit of misinforma­tion going around about booking onto our Great Walks and even the odd conspiracy theory. From people seeking to know if we had given all the best spots to tourism businesses even before bookings opened, to claims that bulk bookings were being made by bots or, heaven forbid, Australian­s (seriously people), we’ve seen it all this year. So we’ve written this blog to tackle the most common misconcept­ions and provide advice on how best to bag your spot.

Myth #1: The Great Walks are all booked out

No they aren’t – not even close! Across the network of 10 Great Walks, there’s about 45% of hut space available and 95% of campsites available.

The Milford Track is the only Great Walk that has sold out so far and even that will have cancellati­ons across the year.

You may not be able to book a party of 25 into huts on the Routeburn over New Year, but there are still PLENTY of opportunit­ies to get out there. Top tip: Great Walks with the most hut capacity currently include the Whanganui River Journey, Tongariro Northern Circuit, Lake Waikaremoa­na, Heaphy, Rakiua and Abel Tasman Coast tracks (see graph opposite page.

Myth #2: It’s just the Milford right?

We have ten Great Walks and they are all epic. While everyone who has done it during a reasonable weather window would probably agree, the Milford is pretty special, there are nine other mind-blowingly beautiful Great Walks out there offering walking (plus biking and paddling) opportunit­ies throughout the year.

Top tip: If it’s diversity of scenery, incredible nature (including takahē) and lush rainforest you’re after, try the Heaphy.

Myth #3: You can’t camp on a Great Walk

Milford and Paparoa tracks are the only Great Walks where campsites aren’t provided. You can book camp sites on all the other walks. We know carrying a tent, sleeping bag and mat, and all the cooking equipment you’ll need, really isn’t for everyone. But for those who are keen and able, this is a cheaper option. Camping offers heaps of capacity for groups and night-time quiet and privacy for those who want it. Great Walk campsites range in price from $5 to $32 a night, with New Zealand adults paying no more than $21 a night even in peak season.

Top tip: For people new to combining camping with tramping, with a warmer climate and multiple entry and exit points allowing you to do shorter trips, the Abel Tasman Coast Track would be a good place to start.

Myth #4: Half the places are already taken before bookings even open

No they really aren’t! No one gets early access to the booking system. (for example I’ve worked for DOC for 13 years and I have to book onto the Great Walks the same way everyone else does).

Agents (such as i-SITES who make bookings for customers over the counter or on the phone) and concession­aires (the majority of which are walking or kayaking guides) book Great Walks in the same way

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 ?? Photo Jake Osbourne ?? Left: Takahē on the Heaphy Track.
Photo Jake Osbourne Left: Takahē on the Heaphy Track.
 ?? Photo Lizzy Sutcliffe ?? Above: The mighty Milford. Below: Routeburn Flats..
Photo Lizzy Sutcliffe Above: The mighty Milford. Below: Routeburn Flats..
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