Introduction

Find out what the Great Walks differential pricing trial might mean for you.

Price changes

A lower fee for staying in DOC huts and campsites in trial areas will apply to New Zealand citizens, those ‘ordinarily resident’ in New Zealand, and their children. New Zealand’s realm nations (Cook Islands, Niue, Tokelau) will pay the New Zealand rate as they are New Zealand citizens. 

International visitors to New Zealand will pay a higher fee for staying in these DOC huts and campsites. 

When using the DOC Booking System to book a hut or campsite you need to indicate your country of citizenship or ordinary residence. The system will then generate the appropriate fee to charge you.

Pricing for all the Great Walks

Ordinarily resident in New Zealand criteria

In addition to New Zealand citizens, New Zealand’s realm countries (Cook Islands, Niue, Tokelau) will pay the New Zealand rate as these nationals are New Zealand citizens.  

Otherwise, visitors eligible for the lower fee are those who are ‘ordinarily resident’ in New Zealand.  An “ordinarily resident’ New Zealander is someone who:

  • has lived in New Zealand for at least six (6) of the 12 months immediately prior to their booking, and
  • holds a residence class, student, or work visa, and
  • has New Zealand as their primary place of established residence.

You must live in New Zealand for six months prior to your walk start date for the New Zealand rate

The ‘ordinarily resident’ policy states that someone needs to be able to demonstrate that they are ‘ordinarily resident’ in New Zealand in order to qualify for the New Zealand rate, and that this means you:

  • have lived in New Zealand for at least six of the 12 months immediately prior to their booking, and
  • hold a residence class, student, or work visa, and
  • New Zealand is their primary place of established residence.

This means that people who booked while living overseas will qualify for the New Zealand rate – if you have actually lived in New Zealand for six months before you undertake your walk. 

Proof of eligibility will be required for the New Zealand rate

The information in the table below is evidence DOC will accept of your “ordinarily resident’ status to claim the New Zealand rate for huts and campsites.

Demonstrating your eligibility for the New Zealand rate can be as simple as providing a photocopied version of your passport or birth certificate, your New Zealand driver's licence, or other information that demonstrates that New Zealand is where you usually live

Acceptable eligibility proof for the New Zealand rate
Eligibility One of the following (copies)
New Zealand citizen

New Zealand driver’s licence
Birth certificate

New Zealand passport

New Zealand ordinary resident

New Zealand driver’s licence
or name and address on letter from:

  • an employer or employment records
  • a New Zealand bank
  • government agency, ie Inland Revenue Department, Ministry of Social Development
  • local council – rates/water bill
  • mortgage/tenancy documents agreements
  • a utility company invoice with your name and address on it
  • ‘official’ correspondence addressed to you at your New Zealand address
  • documents showing that your household effects have been moved to New Zealand. 

Note that the presence or absence of any of the documents listed above is not determinative and each case will be decided on the evidence provided.

Eligibility of children for the New Zealand rate 

The children of New Zealand citizens and those ordinarily resident in New Zealand are eligible for the New Zealand rate. 

This is because we use the parent’s residential status as a proxy for assessing the eligibility of children and young people to this rate. 

This means that for family groups we only require residency verification information regarding the parents, and not the children that has paid the New Zealand rate. 

If at least one parent meets the residency criteria then they, and their children, will be eligible for the New Zealand rate.

Schools and international students

New Zealand schools already collect information we can use to determine a student’s eligibility. There are strict rules around establishing a student’s entitlement to a New Zealand education.

The residency requirements are still required to be met for students to qualify for the New Zealand rate.

Most students will be classed as ‘domestic’ students and therefore meet the requirements for the New Zealand rate in the trial.

International students must meet the requirements for ‘ordinarily resident’ in New Zealand if they are to qualify for the New Zealand rate for huts and campsites (ie at no charge).

As a standard part of the enrolment process for students, schools are required to assess whether students are ‘domestic’ or ‘international students’, to verify supporting evidence of this, and to record this in the Ministry of Education’s enrolment system. Schools are also able to check the visa status of their students online via Immigration New Zealand’s VisaView system. Therefore, DOC considers identifying the applicable fee rate at booking time and later providing the eligibility evidence if the New Zealand rate is used should be relatively straightforward.

DOC considers that international students should pay the international fee because many schools use the ability to access New Zealand’s amazing recreation opportunities as unique selling points to attract fee-paying students from around the world.  

Spouses of New Zealand citizens 

To qualify for the New Zealand rate someone must be either a New Zealand citizen or be ordinarily resident in New Zealand. 

While the children of a New Zealand citizen qualify for the New Zealand rate regardless of their citizenship or residency status, spouses must meet the ‘ordinarily resident’ requirement and be able to demonstrate that they meet those requirements if they wish to pay the New Zealand rate. 

For example: 

A family of two parents and two children who live overseas are visiting New Zealand on holiday and want to stay in a hut on the Milford Track. Only one of the parents has New Zealand citizenship. 

The parent with New Zealand citizenship would be eligible for the New Zealand rate, as would be their children. The parent who does not have New Zealand citizenship cannot be said to be ‘ordinarily resident’, so they would pay the international rate. 

The family’s cost per night for hut accommodation on the Milford would therefore be $210 ($70 + $140 + $0 + $0 = $210) – for a family of two adults and two children. 

Verifying eligibility for the New Zealand rate 

If you have paid the New Zealand rate for DOC huts or campsites for the trialled walks, DOC will check your eligibility for this rate. The checking can be undertaken at the local Visitor Centre or at the huts or campsites.

If you cannot provide the evidence of your eligibility, then you will need to pay the difference between the New Zealand rate you already paid and the international rate. You will also need to pay an additional $50 administration fee.

New Zealand residents and citizens, note that you will also need to bring the evidence of eligibility for the New Zealand rate to help the checking process to run smoothly. DOC greatly appreciates your support and assistance with this trial to find effective management tools for the pressure of tourism on our resources.

Milford, Routeburn, and Kepler Great Walks

For the Milford, Routeburn, and Kepler Great Walks you should bring a copy of the relevant information to show at the DOC visitor centre when you collect your tickets.

Abel Tasman Coast Great Walk

For the Abel Tasman Great Walk, you will need to bring a copy of the relevant evidence with you as our rangers at the huts and campsites will be undertaking checks. This is because the Abel Tasman Coast Track can be accessed at multiple points by water taxi and visitors do not necessarily need to go into the Visitor Centre before accessing the track.

Agents and the trial

Agents should be familiar with the new rates structure and the New Zealand rate eligibility requirements. They will also need to be able to share this information with their clients and remind those that have paid the New Zealand rate that they will need to be able to demonstrate their eligibility once they arrive at the Great Walk.

Agents may wish to use the following text when communicating with customers. This advice is consistent with the information on DOC’s website and the pre-departure information you will receive once your walk has been booked:

The Department of Conservation is trialling a new pricing system for people staying in a hut or campground on four of the most popular Great Walks for the 2019/20 season and international visitors will pay more than New Zealanders to stay on these walks during the trial period of October 2019 to April 2020. 

The hut fees for international visitors, including children, on the Milford Track will be $140 per night, on the Kepler and Routeburn $130 per night, and the Abel Tasman Coastal Walk $75 per night. 

The campsite fees for international visitors, including children, on the Kepler and Routeburn will be $40 per night, and the Abel Tasman Coastal Walk $30 per night. 

You must be able to demonstrate that you are a New Zealand citizen or are ‘ordinarily resident’ in New Zealand to be eligible for the New Zealand rate for huts and campsites. You will be considered to be ‘ordinarily resident’ when you have been in New Zealand for six of the 12 months immediately prior to their booking (ie, starting their walk), hold a New Zealand residence, student or work visa and where New Zealand is your primary place of established residence.

The documentation that is acceptable is set out on the Department of Conservation’s Great Walks website www.doc.govt.nz/news/issues/great-walks-differential-pricing-trial/eligibility/.This information can be as simple as providing a photocopy of your passport or birth certificate, your New Zealand driver’s license, or other information that demonstrates that New Zealand is where you usually live – such as a utility company invoice with your name and address on it.

You will need to provide evidence that you qualify for the New Zealand hut and campsite fees when asked by Department of Conservation staff. The process for the four Great Walks in the trial will be as follows:

For the Milford, Routeburn, or Kepler Great Walks, you can demonstrate your eligibility by bringing a copy of the relevant documentation to show at the Department of Conservation’s Visitor Centre when you collect your tickets. 

For the Abel Tasman Coast Great Walk you will need to bring a copy of the relevant information with you on the walk as the Department’s rangers will be undertaking checks at huts and campsites. This is because there are its multiple access points to the track.

If you arrive at the Great Walk having paid the New Zealand rate and cannot demonstrate you are eligible for that rate, your booking will be invalid. You will be required to pay the difference between the New Zealand rate that you paid and the International rate plus an administration fee before you can stay in a hut or at a campsite or in some cases you may not be able to continue your walk.

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