DOC Director Recreation Tourism and Heritage, Jennie Marks says the current nine Great Walks are increasingly popular and, to meet growing demand, Budget 2017 provided $12.7 million to expand the Great Walk network.
“This project is part of DOC’s work to ease visitor pressure at some high-use sites, focussing on protecting our natural heritage and ensuring New Zealanders continue to enjoy their great outdoors,” says Jennie Marks.
“Our thinking has evolved since the process began last year when we were looking at two new Great Walks. Depending on options, we may still achieve two walks or decide to invest in only one Great Walk if it is an outstanding option that requires significant new tracks and building upgrades.”
In September last year, DOC asked the public which walks should join the Great Walks network. DOC received more than 30 submissions, with 20 located in the North Island and 10 in the South Island.
These submissions were assessed by 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. The panel selected the following walks to advance through to the next stage:
- Te Paki Coastal Walk, 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.
Key considerations for any new walk include opportunities to engage with Māori culture; accessibility for New Zealanders; and cost and environmental impacts to bring the track and facilities up to the Great Walks standard. Options will vary in relation to the level of cost required.
“Community support is also a vital part of choosing any new Great Walk and we’ll be engaging with community groups, along with local whānau, hapū and iwi. We’ll also talk with recreation, conservation and tourism sector representatives through this process,” says Jennie Marks.
DOC is currently working with proponents to collect further information to assess their suitability as potential Great Walks. An announcement of the successful Great Walk or Walks will be made at the end of 2018.
Frequently asked questions
Q. How many additional Great Walks will be selected?
Last year funding was announced to expand the Great Walk network by two additional walks. However, some proposals will cost more than others, and the best option maybe to restrict the expansion to one Great Walk.
Q. What is the process to select additional walks?
Initial submissions were received through a public participation process and provided varying ranges of information. DOC will continue to collect further information on the short-listed walks as part of the assessment process.
Q. How long will the process take?
Announcements will be made by the end of 2018. It is expected that any new Great Walk would be ready for the beginning of the 2021 summer season.
Q. Will there be a chance for the public to have their say?
Public input was sought in the initial stages. Any new Great Walk will need strong community support. This next stage of the process will see engagement at a community level, with key local groups, whānau, hapū and iwi and recreation, conservation and tourism sector representatives.
Q. How many great walks are there currently?
Currently DOC offers nine Great Walks:
- Rakiura Track
- Milford Track
- Kepler Track
- Routeburn Track
- Heaphy Track
- Abel Tasman Coast Track
- Whanganui Journey (technically a paddle not a walk)
- Lake Waikaremoana
- Tongariro Northern Circuit
Another one (Paparoa Track) is currently in development on the West Coast.
Further information can be found on DOC’s website www.doc.govt.nz/newgreatwalks