Last year, New Zealand upped the price for international visitors to its Great Walks. A year on, the trial has raised a shit tonne of money but resulted in a huge decrease in overseas visitors who have literally been priced out of the experience.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) introduced the trial last summer, charging overseas visitors a whopping $140 per night for a hut on the Milford track, $130 on the Kepler and Routeburn, and $75 a night on the Abel Tasman track. New Zealanders paid half of that, with under-18s being free of charge.

What’s the point of the price rise?

Here’s what they were hoping to achieve:

  • Improve access to the Great Walks for people usually resident in New Zealand
  • Increase the proportion of costs that are received from international users
  • Charge international visitors a fee that more fairly reflects the high value of the experience

So…has it worked?

The trial netted the DOC a not-to-be-sniffed-at $2.4m, with a 37% increase in New Zealand adults hitting the trails. That’s the highest number of New Zealanders in the last six years.

But on the flip side, there was a huge drop in overseas visitors. The total was 71,901 compared to 104,189 the year before.

The extra $2.4 million from the trial will be used to maintain the tracks so the DOC can focus its funding on core conservation work.

What’s next?

The DOC plans to re-run the trial this season, but I think it’s probably not too much of a jump to say that prices will likely remain like this for the foreseeable future.

What do you think? Is it a good thing that they’re raising extra money for maintenance and conservation? Or a bad thing that Great Walks have become accessible only to an elite (*cough* rich) few?

 


Feature image by Nicholas Di Genni


Don’t want to pay extra? Check out these NZ adventures instead

Our Top 10 Hikes In New Zealand (And Not All Of Them Are Great Walks)

Tarawera Trail, North Island

Mount Taranaki

The Hardest Hike In New Zealand – The Dusky Track