Saturday, April 13, 2024

DOC walks out new fees schedules

The Department of Conservation is increasing the price of Great Walk facilities. 

“It has been more than four years since prices were reviewed and upkeep costs have risen significantly since then,” says DOC’s Director of Heritage and Visitors, Cat Wilson. 

From 1 July, Great Walk hut and campsite prices will increase by 18% except for Paparoa, which will increase by 6%.  

“While Great Walk fees don’t cover the full costs, the revenue raised contributes to maintaining, repairing, and improving the huts, campsites, tracks, and structures and balances the cost burden between users and taxpayers,” said Ms Wilson.

“While 18% is a sizable increase, the prices were last reviewed in 2019/20 and research shows the fees paid to DOC for these Great Walks are typically just a small proportion of the overall cost of peoples’ trip. 

“Great Walk experiences continue to be affordable, with options ranging from $19 to camp on the Abel Tasman to $92 for a hut on the Milford Track at peak season for New Zealand residents.”

Fees for international visitors remain at a 50% premium to NZ resident fees on most Great Walks.

“DOC is under increased budget pressure from rising construction and maintenance costs and reduced revenue due to the impacts of inflation, extreme weather events including Cyclone Gabrielle, and other economic pressures on New Zealand.”

“As part of the review, we are also reintroducing youth and child fees (5-17 years) for the Great Walk facilities which will be 50% of the adult fees. This is in line with youth and child fees at other DOC huts and campsites.”

DOC says data shows the “youth go free” approach adopted in 2008 did not noticeably increase children and youth participation on the Great Walks. In some cases, it was even used to hold places on the walks for free, then either not used or cancelled at the last minute, preventing others from being able to book a place on those dates. 

“The Department has also reviewed its discount policy and is providing for the first time ever, discounts to people who hold a community services card,” said Ms Wilson.

“We’ve made some adjustments to historical discount holders. Those changes mean we are now able to offer a new 25% discount to people who have a community services card. 

“There’s also changes to Reward Discounts for organisations contributing to conservation and recreation with the maximum discount reducing to 20%.  

“No one likes a price increase. But it is great we’ve been able to offer more discounts to those New Zealanders doing it the hardest in the current economic climate. 

“It is also worth noting that the country is incredibly well served with a huge variety of scenic DOC walks and facilities with price points for all budgets, including many that are free for everyone to enjoy,” she said. 

Opening dates for booking huts, campsites and Great Walks for 2024/25 will be announced in April.

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