New Zealand Great Walks
The New Zealand Great Walks are a set of popular tramping tracks developed and maintained by the Department of Conservation. They are New Zealand's premier tracks, through areas of some of the best scenery in the country, ranging from coastlines with beaches to dense rain forests and alpine terrain. The tracks are maintained to a high standard, making it easier for visitors to explore some of the most scenic parts of New Zealand's backcountry.
The walks range from 32 kilometres (20 mi) length to 82 kilometres (51 mi) in length and take between 3 and 6 days to complete, with the Whanganui Journey on river being 145 kilometres (90 mi) long over 5 days.
Only the Tongariro Northern Circuit and the Kepler Track are loop walks, all other Great Walks require transport to return to the starting point.
The Great Walks network was established by the Department of Conservation in 1993. The network was established both as a way to advertise hiking in New Zealand, but also as a means of managing and conserving the most popular tracks which were increasingly being damaged by unrestricted tourism.
The backcountry huts are conveniently located, comfortable, well-equipped, and high capacity. Both the huts and tracks on the Great Walks are of a higher standard than other tramping tracks in the country. These tracks are very popular with overseas visitors, partly due to their heavy promotion by the Department of Conservation and tourism operators. All of the Great Walks have booking systems to manage visitor pressure. Guided walks are available through private operators along many of the walks.
There is no charge required for walking access to the Great Walks, however, charges apply for overnight accommodation at the huts or campsites. To conserve the tracks, it is illegal to camp within 500 metres (1,600 ft) of a Great Walk track or 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) of the Milford Track except at designated campsites. It is not possible to access the Milford Track without having booked the track accommodation, as both ends of the track require boat transport to get there. Sections of the Abel Tasman Coastal Track are particularly popular for day walks without overnight accommodation, as even the middle sections are serviced by water taxis.
List of routes
- Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk
- Tongariro Northern Circuit - the second day of the circuit follows the Tongariro Alpine Crossing over volcanic terrain.
- Whanganui Journey — this is actually not a walk but a kayak voyage on New Zealand's longest navigable river. It is however managed under the Great Walks system.
- Abel Tasman Coast Track - the most popular track.
- Heaphy Track - at 82 kilometres the longest of the walking tracks, delivering the biggest contrast from palm-fringed beaches to sub-alpine tussock grasslands.
- Routeburn Track - at 32 kilometres the shortest of the walking tracks.
- Milford Track - the most famous of the Great Walks.
- Paparoa Track - opening in 2019.
- Kepler Track
Stewart Island / Rakiura
A tenth Great Walk, the 45-kilometre (28 mi) Paparoa Track, is planned to be opened on 1 December 2019. This will be the first addition since the existing Great Walks network was established in 1993.
Another walking track, the Pike29 Memorial Track, is currently under construction until at least December 2020. This will be a spur track from the Paparoa route. This track is a memorial to the 29 miners killed in the Pike River Mine disaster.
In 2018, the Department of Conservation investigated the addition of an eleventh Great Walk with the finalists being:
- Te Paki Coastal Track in Northland
- Queen Charlotte Track in the Marlborough Sounds
- Hump Ridge Track in coastal Southland
In July 2019, it was decided that the 61-km Hump Ridge Track, will become the 11th Great Walk. There will be an upgrade to track and hut facilities, costing approx NZ$5m. The goal is to have this track join the Great Walks network in 2022.
- Tramping in New Zealand
- New Zealand tramping tracks
- List of rail trails#New Zealand
- New Zealand Cycle Trail — originally conceived as single route, this is now to become a 'Great Rides' system analogous to the Great Walks.
- Protected areas of New Zealand
- "A Short History of Long Walks in NZ". Tourism New Zealand. Retrieved 2016-09-22.
- "Great Walks of New Zealand". Tourism New Zealand. Retrieved 2016-09-22.
- Orrell, Gillian (1 Aug 2012). New Boots in New Zealand: Nine great walks, three islands and one tramping virgin. Exisle Publishing. pp. 302–328.
- Michael de Waal-Montgomery (2015-11-04). "Enter the world of 'The Lord of the Rings' with Google's latest Street View imagery from New Zealand". VentureBeat. Retrieved 2015-12-03.
- "Great Walks Information". New Zealand Tramper.
- Samantha Gee (10 Sep 2015). "Abel Tasman National Park generates $1m revenue after record-breaking season". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 2016-02-11.
- "Milford Track - New Zealand Hiking Trails". Tourism New Zealand. Retrieved 2016-09-22.
- "Paparoa Track and Pike29 Memorial Track". www.doc.govt.nz. Department of Conservation. Retrieved 30 November 2019.
- "Where will New Zealand's next Great Walk be?". 1 News. 24 August 2018.
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