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.
Selecting additional Great Walks will provide more space on the network, enable greater access for New Zealanders and encourage visitors to experience new parts of New Zealand, benefiting adjacent communities.
About the process
In 2017 DOC ran a public participation process to encourage iwi, communities, and members of the public to nominate an existing walk which could be enhanced to become part of our Great Walks network. Submissions for initial proposals closed in November 2017, and DOC received a wide response, with 30 tracks from across the country proposed.
A panel comprising representatives from Federated Mountain Clubs, New Zealand Recreation Association, New Zealand Māori Tourism, Tourism New Zealand, Air New Zealand, Tourism Industry Aotearoa, as well as DOC, assessed all proposals in December 2017. This panel identified a shortlist of seven walks:
- Te Paki Coastal Talk, Northland
- Aotea Track, Great Barrier Island
- Timber Trail, Waikato
- Tarawera Trail, Bay of Plenty
- Queen Charlotte Track, Marlborough
- Waiau-Toa/Molesworth, Canterbury
- Hump Ridge Track, Fiordland.
From this list, DOC selected Queen Charlotte, Hump Ridge and Te Paki Coastal tracks for further consideration based on the external panel's recommendations. These tracks were then evaluated regarding the potential visitor experience on each walk and any possible issues, costs, impacts and support for future development.
This evaluation showed that development of Hump Ridge Track and Te Paki Coastal Track are viable options that will add real value to their communities. It also highlighted insurmountable challenges around surety of permanent public access on Queen Charlotte Track resulting in the decision not to progress this track as a Great Walk.
How are walks evaluated?
Walks need to align with the existing Great Walks and highlight the very best of New Zealand’s natural and historic heritage.
Key considerations for any new walk include:
- Does it provide outstanding opportunities to engage with New Zealand’s nature, history and Māori culture?
- Does it have the support of community groups, along with local whānau, hapū and iwi?
- Will it bring benefits for local communities?
- How feasible will it be to bring the track up to Great Walk standard?
- Does it enhance access for New Zealanders to their Great Walks network and conservation heritage?
- What are the costs and environmental impacts of undertaking this work?
DOC will now undertake detailed business cases for Hump Ridge Track and Te Paki Coastal Track as a final step in the process to identify one or more new Great Walk.
Hump Ridge Track
A Memorandum of Understanding was signed in July 2019 between the Department of Conservation (DOC) and Tuatapere Hump Ridge Trust (who run an existing 2-night experience on the track). The agreement outlines how DOC and the Trust will work together to progress Hump Ridge Track’s development as a Great Walk. It is subject to working through any roadblocks in bringing Hump Ridge up to Great Walk standard over the next three years.
Te Paki Coastal Track
DOC will also continue its work in the far north to progress plans for what is currently Te Paki Coastal Track, becoming a Great Walk. The proposal to develop a Great Walk in the Far North needs to be considered as part of that bigger picture, and to build connections across Northland.
The overall timeframe for this work is dependent on a number of factors, including the need for meaningful engagement and collaboration with our iwi partners.