Visitor numbers fell 52 percent for the Hooker Valley Trail in Aoraki National Park. Photo / 123RF
Some of New Zealand’s most popular walking trails have seen huge drops in visitor numbers.
Data from the Department of Conservation compares the number of visitors during September and October this year with the same time last year.
Milford Sound was down 72 percent, Franz Josef Glacier was down 66 percent and the Hooker Valley Track was down 52 percent.
Tracks Roys Peak and Ben Lomond fell 42 percent and 31 percent, respectively.
“Many parts of New Zealand have been hit hard by the loss of international visitors. The more remote and high-volume international destinations in the national parks are seeing a large drop in traffic.”
“Acknowledging how difficult the last year was for many local economies, it is great to open Fiordland’s popular Milford and Routeburn tracks in time for the holidays, to support domestic tourism in the region,” DoC director general Lou said Sanson.
The DoC said New Zealanders would camp in extensive coastal campgrounds in popular Kiwi summer spots such as Northland, the Coromandel and the upper South Island.
Camp Tōtaranui (near the Abel Tasman Coast Track) had the highest number of bookings of all DoC campgrounds in New Zealand this summer.
The Waikawau Bay (Coromandel) and Otamure Bay (Northland) campgrounds proved popular too.
“While the DoC expects a busy season, there is still plenty of room over the summer at hundreds of conservation campsites, including campsites on the Great Walks.”
Most popular campsite
Number of nights booked between December 1, 2020 and February 28, 2021:
• Totaranui, Nelson / Tasman: 42,170
• Waikawau Bay, Coromandel: 17,580
Otamure Bay, Northland: 16,710
• Uretiti Coast, Northland: 11,770
• Puriri Bay (Whangaruru), Northland: 9190
• Momorangi Bay, Marlborough: 8630
• Urupukapuka Bay, Northland: 6430
• Waikahoa Bay, Northland: 5100
• Port Jackson, Coromandel: 4420
• Cable Bay (Urupukapuka), Northland: 2430