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DOC hikes hut fees amid tourist boom

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 3/05/2017

The Department of Conservation is lifting the fees for huts on some of its most famous walking tracks as the number of hikers hitting trails booms.

From mid-May, the department will increase the $54 nightly fee for its huts on seven of nine of the "Great Walks" by 6 per cent to 30 per cent, depending on the trial.

Among the most famous hikes in Zealand, a night on the the Milford track will cost hikers $70.

DOC is also introducing seasonal pricing for huts at Abel Tasman and Rakiura and lifting campsites fees at four of the tracks by $1 or $2 a night.

It's the first price rise in five years and will increase total revenue by an estimated $880,000 a year, as the gap between what the department spends on maintenance and what comes in closes.

DOC's director of recreation, tourism and heritage, Gavin Walker, said there had been a 35 per cent increase in use of the Great Walks over the past three years and the most popular were now at more than 90 per cent capacity over summer.

"Increasingly more and more visitors to the Great Walks are international - about 60 per cent -and the feedback we often get is how amazing they are and how cheap," he said.

"The reality is we are charging $54 a night for the Milford Track - arguably the greatest walk in the world and this is well below the value that we are delivering for visitors."

By comparison, a night on the Three Capes Track in Tasmania worked out to about $180, he said.

"These price changes are based around each walk's demand profile, with our highest-use tracks seeing the largest increase," he said.

DOC FEE CHANGES:

* Price increase for nightly hut fees on seven of nine Great Walks tracks

* Whanganui Journey and Lake Waikaremoana are excluded

* Seasonal pricing to be introduced for huts at Abel Tasman and Rakiura

* Campsites at four of eight tracks with camping to increase by $1 to $2 a night

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