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Source: Department of Conservation


DOC has released visitor data from selected popular public conservation areas for the year ending February 2020, prior to COVID-19 travel restrictions. This data suggests another year of high visitor demand.

Date:  21 September 2020

Visitation to 9 out of 15 sites had increased by at least 5% over the last 3 years and 9 out of 20 sites had increased by at least 5% when compared with the previous year.

Some sites such as the Mangorei Track, in Taranaki and Blue Pools, near Wanaka, have had double the visits compared to 2016/17.

There was a decrease in visits at some places, often due to the impacts of extreme weather. Hooker Valley Track in Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park, Milford Sound/Piopiotahi and Franz Josef Glacier/Kā Roimata o Hine Hukatere had partial track or access closures which contributed to decreases in visitation.

“Since the impacts of COVID-19 we’ve seen a desire from New Zealanders to get out into nature. It’s fantastic to see so many New Zealanders making the most of their great outdoors this year and supporting domestic tourism across the regions,” says DOC’s Heritage and Visitor Director, Steve Taylor.

“DOC has been pleasantly surprised that the number of nights booked on the Great Walks so far this year are actually quite significantly up on last year – an unexpected 59%. This doesn’t include the storm-damaged Milford and Routeburn tracks which will have a reduced walking season due to necessary repair work.”

“Alongside increased extreme weather events, reduced numbers of international visitors and potential COVID-19 capacity restrictions in DOC huts over the coming summer season are all likely to impact this year’s visitor numbers and revenue.”

View the visitor data: Annual visitor figures to selected popular public conservation sites up to February 2020 (PDF, 2,283K)

Background information

DOC monitors and records visitor activity across key sites around the country. This information is compiled, analysed and publicly released around March/April each year. The release of last year’s data was delayed due to the COVID-19 response.


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