Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


DOC's new streamlined on-line application system will cut red tape and allow tour operators to be granted a permit for selected guided walks faster.

Date:  03 March 2010

The Department of Conservation’s new streamlined online application system for conforming concessions will cut red tape and allow tour operators to be granted a permit for selected guided walks in only 5 days, as opposed to the 3 months it used to take. The cost to businesses has been significantly reduced from more than $1300 to less than $300.

DOC has surveyed its 12,000 kilometre track network to identify a range of over 1000 well established tracks where guided walking can be approved more quickly and efficiently. All selected tracks currently have low use and precautionary limits have been set to protect conservation values. 

DOC has consulted widely with local iwi, community groups and conservation organisations to establish the list of available tracks. The survey also identified those tracks with more complex management needs and high natural values. Some sensitive areas will be set aside as off-limits to commercial guiding while reinforcing current controls on access to well used tracks and routes through fragile environments.

Launching the new system, Kevin O’Connor, General Manager of Research and Development for DOC said “I’m very pleased to see that while the system will encourage access to a range of carefully selected tracks it also helps manage visitor numbers and ensures quality and safety standards are maintained.”

“Everybody can still freely access DOC tracks unassisted, but the online system will fast track processing for low impact commercial guiding operations in areas where they won’t compromise environmental values.”

“Encouraging people onto tracks and walks helps connect them with their environment and the vital conservation work going on around the country. The more people see our special places the more they appreciate their value.”

The new online system is easy and fast because the environmental and social assessments have been done in advance for tracks on the list. The application process still incorporates checks on safety plans and sets group sizes for guided parties. It also cuts down on administrative processing, freeing DOC staff to manage more complex applications and relationships with operators.

Tourism Industry Association advocacy manager Geoff Ensor says tour operators welcome the new streamlined system which clearly identifies opportunities for guiding companies.

“Visitors - both local and international - want quality outdoor experiences. We have actively supported the development of a more straightforward system of providing people with a full range of walking opportunities. Maintaining high quality, safe visitor experiences while protecting the environment is the priority."


Gavin Walker
Visitor Services Manager
Research and Development, Wellington
Phone: +64 4 471 0726

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