Date: 22 April 2013
Record numbers of people have walked a Great Walk so far this season, the Department of Conservation says.
Figures show 74,454 people (made up of 55% international tourists and 45% New Zealanders) walked one of the nine Great Walks from July to March, compared with 67,857 for the same period last year—an increase of nearly 10 per cent.
In comparison, the previous four years saw an increase of only 1900 walkers or 1% per year.
DOC Director Commercial Business David Wilks puts the growth down to the Department’s increased focus on marketing the Great Walks over the last year, boosted by the successful partnership with Air New Zealand and great summer weather.
“This is a stunning result and confirms our efforts to develop the Great Walks brand and promote the tracks to get more people out enjoying them.”
“It also reflects our partnership with Air New Zealand and shows how DOC can achieve more for conservation by joining forces with others.”
Last year DOC embarked on a national marketing campaign to promote the Great Walks. The campaign included new Great Walks branding, web presence, videos and brochures.
The partnership with Air New Zealand has extended this marketing through such things as promotion of travel and accommodation packages and the international Great Walker competition. Its inflight promotions included a safety video featuring Bear Grylls on the Routeburn Track and profiles in Kia Ora magazine.
Building on the success of the Great Walks brand, DOC is now working with regional tourism organisations and other partners to develop a new range of walking experiences to get even more people out enjoying our spectacular conservation areas, which will be announced later this year, says Wilks.
The Great Walks are New Zealand’s premiere tramping tracks through diverse and stunning landscapes and with comfortable and well-equipped huts.
The nine Great Walks are: Tongariro Northern Circuit, Lake Waikaremoana Track, Whanganui Journey (a great paddle), Abel Tasman Coast Track, Heaphy Track, Kepler Track, Routeburn Track, Milford Track and Rakiura Track.
Since being established 20 years ago, the tracks, huts, campsites and other facilities on the Great Walks have been considerably improved. And while the number of walkers has steadily increased, there is still plenty of room for more people on nearly all of the Great Walks.
The popular Kepler, Routeburn and Abel Tasman Coast tracks need to be booked further ahead, as does the Milford Track, which runs near capacity and should be booked six months ahead.
The three-year partnership with Air New Zealand also includes support for new biodiversity programmes around the Great Walks network, including work around the Rakiura, Milford, Routeburn and Lake Waikaremoana tracks. These aim to bring some of New Zealand’s most threatened birds back to the Great Walks.
DOC media advisors: Fiona Oliphant or Lizzy Sutcliffe +64 3 371 3743 or +64 27 4701378