Heading to New Zealand’s ‘Great Walks’? It might cost you double

New Zealand tax

New Zealand has nine Great Walks, with four of them having a new tourism tax imposed. Source: Shutterstock

NEW ZEALAND’S Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage has given the green light to introduce a tourism tax for international hikers on four of the country’s Great Walks.

This follows Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis’ announcement last month at the Trenz tourism conference to sanction a levy for foreign visitors to ensure a strong tourism infrastructure.

“New Zealand’s nine Great Walks are premier tracks that pass through unique and spectacular scenery and are a magnet for international visitors,” Sage said in a statement released by the Department of Conservation (DOC) office on Saturday.

The trial will go on for seven months from October this year to April 2019, and will mean foreigners would have to cough up double the fee locals pay for hut hire and campsite facilities along the tracks.

Here’s what it will cost foreign tourists to book huts at the four walks:

  • Milford Track – US$98 (NZ$140)

  • Kepler Track – US$91 (NZ$130)

  • Routeburn Track – US$91 (NZ$130)

  • Abel Tasman Coastal Walk – US$53 (NZ$75)

New Zealanders and permanent residents under 18-years-old will be exempt from this levy.

The new tourism tax aims to raise US$2 million (NZ$2.9 million) to maintain the tracks and huts along the way for the increasing number of hikers.

Figures released last year by New Zealand’s Department of Conservation show that 62 percent of hikers on the Great Walks are international tourists.

But this was the aim all along because since 2011, New Zealand has been spending big budgets on overseas tourism marketing – and it’s paid off.

Between April 2017 and 2018, international tourism grew nationwide by nine percent.

New Zealand’s nine Great Walks have also received 40,000 overseas walkers since 2011, with the most popular being the Milford Track.

Sage appears to be confident that the new tax won’t deter adventurers from the trails, but instead evenly spread visitors across all nine Great Walks.

“The increased accommodation fees may also encourage overseas visitors to use less visited Great Walks where prices remain the same,” Sage added.

As of yet, there are no confirmed details on tourism tax for international visitors who don’t plan on exploring the Great Walks.

However at the same Trenz tourism conference last month, Davis said he hoped to publicly announce the plan for the wider tourism tax soon and implement it by 2019.

If you’re interested in discovering New Zealand’s natural beauty on one of the Great Walks, explore the DOC website to find out when you can book, and how much it might cost you.