New Zealand’s profile as a walking and hiking destination will be amplified with two new networks of walking tracks to be known as short walks and day hikes.
Alongside New Zealand’s popular Great Walks network of nine multi-day trails (soon to become 10), the 19 short walks and day hikes will provide a complementary offering for walkers looking for shorter, more accessible experiences.
The walks are spread through both islands, many in close proximity to towns and cities or popular tourism destinations. The walks are graded and range from the ‘easy’ 45-minute Lake Gunn loop (accessed off the Te Anau – Milford Road) to the ‘advanced’ 7.5km / 6-hour Te Whara Track on the coast near Whangarei, north of Auckland.
Tracks were chosen for their beauty and variety of environments, as well as accessibility and good visitor facilities.
Short walks (30 minutes – 3 hours) will appeal to those with compact itineraries and allow people to sample New Zealand’s varied natural heritage. Day hikes (3 – 7 hours) will encourage visitors to stay longer in a region while not having to commit to the full multi-day trail experience.
The new designations of ‘short walks’ and ‘day hikes’ were selected in response to tourism consumer research which showed that New Zealand has a solid reputation as a walking destination. All visitor markets researched ranked the country as a destination with great walking experiences.
The research showed that New Zealand is known for amazing walking experiences and that people want to experience a wide range of these, particularly shorter style walks.
Short walks (3 hours or less) were of high interest across all markets with Germans showing more interest in day length walks. Research also revealed that fitness level required, scenery and time were important drivers in selection.
“It’s fantastic to see that consumer feedback from both international visitors and Kiwis was a key input into the walk selection – this helps deliver an experience that we know New Zealanders and our international visitors are looking for and will enjoy,” says Stephen England-Hall, Chief Executive Tourism New Zealand.
Domestic and International tourism delivered over NZ$34 billion to the economy last year (YE March 2016), significantly benefiting communities through visitor spend and employing one in eight New Zealanders.
The tracks are all part of New Zealand’s extensive conservation estate – more than 30% of the land area – which includes 14,000 km of tracks, all administered by the Department of Conservation (DOC).
Each walk was assessed by DOC as being able to accommodate increased visitor numbers. Potential biodiversity, biosecurity and cultural impacts from increased numbers of walkers were also considered.
“We know that New Zealand is highly regarded for its great walking experiences by New Zealanders and international visitors,” says DOC’s Tourism Manager Tinaka Mearns.
The promotion was about providing the right information to inspire people to try new walks and experience different places around New Zealand, she said.
The walk networks were officially launched on 27 October, 2017.