Monday, July 15, 2024

Bookings step up for Great Walks

The Department of Conservation (DOC) is reporting Great Walks bookings have increased as the Heaphy and Lake Waikaremoana tracks return after closures in recent years.

Bookings opened for the 10 Great Walks from 28 May to 6 June and as of last week, total bed-nights booked were up by 13% on last year.

The rise is mostly due to a spike in bookings for the Heaphy and Lake Waikaremoana tracks which are fully open again after repairs. Bed-nights on the Heaphy were up 146% on last year, and more than double (112%) for Lake Waikaremoana compared with 2022 when it was last open.  

DOC Director Heritage and Visitors, Cat Wilson says it’s satisfying to see Great Walks bookings up in opening weeks, giving more people a chance to see some spectacular parts of the country.

“We’ve seen more Kiwis and international visitors booking Great Walks and an increase in provisional revenue of 25%,” she said.

DOC Director Heritage and Visitors, Cat Wilson.

“While bookings were up on the Heaphy, Lake Waikaremoana, Milford and Routeburn, other Great Walks saw fewer bookings, which could be due to an earlier opening than last year.  

“There’s still plenty of room on most Great Walks and there will be cancellations over coming months as people firm up their plans. We encourage people to keep checking back and be flexible with dates to secure a booking.”

Ms Wilson says, apart from the first hour on the Milford Track’s opening day, the booking system has performed well with no significant issues reported on opening days for the other Great Walks.

“We are reviewing what happened on the Milford Track opening day and discussing this with our vendor. However, people can be assured we’ve had no further issues and the booking system is running smoothly.” 

There were fewer bed-nights booked for the Abel Tasman, Kepler, Paparoa, Rakiura, Tongariro Northern Circuit and Whanganui Journey Great Walks compared to last year.

While bookings for both New Zealanders and international visitors were higher this year, overall, the proportion of New Zealanders increased slightly (by 1%) to 78% of bed-nights, while international visitors decreased to 22%.

Kiwis dominated bookings on the Paparoa (95%), Heaphy (94%), Whanganui Journey (92%), Rakiura (88%) and Abel Tasman (82%).

The Fiordland Great Walks were most popular with international visitors, who took up 41% of bed-nights on the Milford, 33% on the Kepler and 32% on the Routeburn.

International bookings came from 49 different countries. Australia was by far the largest market with 40% of international bookings, followed by USA (22%), UK (8%), Germany (6%) and Canada (5%).

The increase in provisional revenue (approximately $7.7 million compared to $6.2 million last year) can be attributed to the bump in international bed-nights and the price increases introduced this season.

This year DOC combined the booking systems for Great Walks, and other huts, campsites and lodges, to make booking more straightforward for users. This means people only need a single account to book the Great Walks and all other accommodation.

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