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2019/20 Milford Track peak season accommodation booked in six minutes
Bookings for accommodation on the Milford Track for the 2019/20 summer season, which opened at 9.30am on Tuesday, sold out within six minutes.
The Department of Conservation opened bookings for huts on its 10 Great Walks on successive days last week, with the Milford and Heaphy Tracks opened on Tuesday and the Routeburn Track and the new Paparoa Track (set to open on 1st December) on Wednesday.
Bookings for the Tongariro Northern Circuit, the Abel Tasman Coast Track, and the Kepler Track opened on Thursday, and for Lake Waikaremoana, the Whanganui Journey, and the Rakiura Track on Friday.
For the Milford Track, walkers have to book into huts to sleep along the route with the website going live as of 9.30am on Tuesday, by 9.36am the beds were nearly all sold out for summer 2019 - with the exception of some dates in late February.
The Department of Conservation says its booking system had protection against bots and peak times genuinely book up "astonishingly fast".
A spokesperson said DOC had complaints every year about how fast the peak holiday dates sell out.
DOC Heritage and Visitors Director, Steve Taylor told RNZ people needed to be in quick, advising "I think we've seen already on the Milford ... that Christmas period is booked out. If you're happy to have a booking in a non-peak time you're probably ok, but if you want to book in a peak time you need to get in quickly."
DOC introduced a differential pricing system for four of the Great Walks in the 2018/19 summer season. Under that system, New Zealanders pay less than international visitors on the Milford, Kepler, Routeburn and Abel Tasman Coast Tracks.
DOC Pricing and Economics Director Laura White commented “the trial has been successful, with more New Zealanders accessing these walks, bringing in more revenue and providing a significant amount of information.”
New to the 10 Great Walks, the Paparoa Track has, Taylor advised “been designed to be used by both mountain bikers and walkers.”
The Great Walks are premium multi-day tramps (and one canoe journey) that showcase the best of New Zealand’s landscapes, and natural and cultural values. The walks are well-formed and have a higher standard of tracks and facilities.
International visitor growth and promotion of the Great Walks through DOC’s partnership with Air New Zealand has led to Great Walk bookings greatly increasing since 2012.
Taylor added “it’s fantastic to see the growing popularity of the Great Walks.
“We can manage this growth, protect the surrounding environments and maintain a quality experience for visitors, as hut and camp spaces are limited. This means it can be difficult for individuals and groups to secure bookings over peak times on the most popular walks. DOC is working to address this through expanding the Great Walks network and investigating the use of pricing as a tool to manage visitor growth.”
For more information go to www.doc.govt.nz/greatwalks
Images: Hut on the Milford track (top) and the new Paparoa Track (below). Courtesy of DOC.
2nd April 2019 - Conference explores development of sustainable trails
18th October 2018 - New Zealand Government closes further tracks to prevent spread of kauri dieback
16th September 2018 - $13.2 million to create Otago cycle trail network
25th October 2017 - Milford and Routeburn Guided Walks receive Qualmark Gold Status
15th June 2017 - Record numbers take to New Zealand’s national walking trail
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