About DOC's Great Walks and why DOC is running a pricing trial for the Great Walks summer season.

Differential pricing is in its second trial season. The trial will play an important role in informing DOC's future decisions in relation to managing visitor demand, increasing access to the Great Walks for New Zealanders, ensuring quality visitor experiences and equitable cost recovery. It will build upon the information provided from the trial we ran in the 2018/19 summer walking season.  

Trial objectives

The trial has three major objectives:

  1. improve access to the Great Walks for people ordinarily resident in New Zealand
  2. increase the proportion of costs that are received from international users
  3. charge international visitors a fee that more fairly reflects the high value of the experience.

Improved access for New Zealand residents

New Zealand is highly regarded as a walking destination by both international visitors and New Zealanders. The Great Walks are premium multi-day walking experiences that showcase the best of New Zealand’s landscapes and natural and cultural values. The accommodation on some of the Great Walks is becoming increasingly difficult to book at peak times due to their popularity.

To date visitor satisfaction remains high despite the rise in numbers on our Great Walks. A key challenge is to maintain the quality of experience at high use sites, while also ensuring that international visitor growth is compatible with New Zealanders' enjoyment of and engagement with these places. 

Recovering costs

User fees are an important contribution to ensure DOC can continue to provide these facilities on the Great Walks. 

DOC’s investment in maintaining the Great Walks has in previous seasons exceeded the revenue from hut fees by up to $3.8 million each year.

Pricing also needs to fairly distribute the cost of maintaining that experience between New Zealanders and international visitors.  

DOC expects to recover additional costs during the trial periods, without significantly reducing bookings and visitor demand. The increased accommodation fees encourage overseas visitors to use less visited Great Walks where prices remain the same. 

Value for money

New Zealand's Great Walks are internationally renowned top visitor experiences and pricing needs to reflect the exceptional value they offer all visitors. 

The Great Walks are well-formed and have higher standard huts and facilities than our other tracks, enabling them to sustain a high level of use while protecting the surrounding environment. This high standard as well as challenging locations of the huts and tracks make the walks expensive to build and maintain.

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