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Source: Department of Conservation

Date:  22 December 2021

As we face another summer break with border restrictions, DOC is once again anticipating high numbers of New Zealanders taking time out in their great outdoors, says Strategy and Insights Manager, Tim Bamford.

“We’re seeing roughly the same numbers of New Zealanders planning to get outdoors compared with last year, albeit with a little more concern related to COVID-19.”

“It’s fantastic to see New Zealanders’ continued enthusiasm for getting into nature – it’s a great way to connect with family and friends and increase wellbeing.”

Hut and campsite bookings data shows an increase of 14% in the number of bednights booked over summer (1 December 2021 to 28 February 2022). Summer bednight bookings on Great Walks are almost the same – down by less than a percent on last year.

“Over 100,000 bednights are booked on our Great Walks over summer – that’s one person staying a night in either a bunk or tent – and 246,011 bednights are booked for huts, campsites and lodges.”

Results from DOC surveying around 1,000 New Zealanders each month between August and November, show the desire for personal and family safety has been influencing around four in five New Zealanders when choosing where to visit.

“The top COVID-19 concern for over half of New Zealanders when going into the outdoors was that ‘other New Zealanders won’t follow the rules’.”

‘Taking time out to enjoy the peace and quiet’ and ‘physical exercise and fitness’ were the top two benefits sought by visitors to the outdoors, with short walks and sightseeing the most popular activities.

“New Zealand’s national parks and most reserves, tracks, and day facilities (excluding huts) in conservation areas are free for everyone to use to take time out unwinding in nature at the end of an uncertain year.

“In DOC huts, campsites and lodges, COVID-19 transmission risks have been assessed to be high or moderate, so vaccination verification (or an exemption) is needed to use these.”

“This policy was brought in to provide people with more certainty when making plans for the holidays, allow us to keep accommodation open, and to ensure facilities are as safe as possible for visitors and those who work in them.

“This is a complex and ever-evolving situation as we respond to a global pandemic. DOC will also review health and safety risks at its facilities over summer in line with Ministry of Health guidelines. Where necessary we may bring in additional restrictions or, as a last resort, close facilities.

“People should check the DOC website for the latest information before they travel.”

DOC rangers will be out over summer looking after conservation areas and checking people are visiting responsibly, including checking proof of vaccination where required.

“While you’re out there, please help us care for Aotearoa and the awesome, quirky and vulnerable native plants and wildlife that live here,” says Tim Bamford.

“Issues from last year included unpermitted fires and family pets in conservation areas, reckless boating and four-wheel driving, litter and vandalism.”

“Let’s do better by New Zealand this year. Please check where you can take your dog, or if you can light a fire. Know the boating rules before you hit the water, so you don’t harm our whales, dolphins and seals. Remove all waste and give wildlife space. Prepare well for your trip including checking the conditions before heading out.”

Find out how to keep yourselves and our wildlife safe and get ideas for places to visit, including huts and campsites with space to book over summer.

Further information

Great Walks

  • There continues to be strong demand for Great Walks – with similar occupancy rates to this time last year – currently at an average of 84% over all Great Walk huts this summer.
  • The Milford Track is at full capacity again over summer.
  • Looking specifically at hut occupancy (rather than huts and campsites), the Abel Tasman, Kepler, Routeburn and Paparoa huts are close to full capacity.
  • Offering more hut and campsite spaces than any other Great Walk, the Abel Tasman Coast Track looks set to be the busiest Great Walk over summer, with almost double the amount of people booked to visit than any other Great Walk.

Great Walks bookings and bednights data

Taken on 16 December 2021 compared to 16 December 2020 for the full season (1 July to 30 June) and summer (1 December to 28 Feb)

 

20-21 full Season

20-21 Summer

21-22 full Season

21-22 Summer

Season % change

Summer % change

Bookings

23,243

13,623

25,032

13,580

7.70%

-0.32%

Bednights

187,346

105,191

186,140

101,335

-0.64%

-3.67%

Huts and campsites

  • Bookings and bednights for the summer season are up significantly on last year (8% and 14% respectively).
  • The number of bookings overall for the entire year has declined slightly (3%) however the total bednights have increased, indicating longer stays and/or larger parties.
  • Many people make last-minute bookings for huts and campsites throughout the year as they decide on a Friday they will go camping/tramping this weekend.
  • Actual numbers will change throughout the year and DOC will provide the full picture once final numbers are in after June 2022.

Campsite, hut and lodge bookings and bednights data

Taken on 16 December 2021 compared to 16 December 2020 for the full season (1 July to 30 June) and summer (1 December to 28 Feb)

 

20-21 Season

20-21 Summer

21-22 Season

21-22 Summer

Season % change

Summer % change

All bookings

3,7166

18,698

36,031

20,231

-3.05%

8.20%

Campsites

13,372

 

13,855

 

3.61%

Huts & Lodges

5326

 

6376

 

19.71%

All bednights

314,302

215,452

338,913

246,011

7.83%

14.18%

Campsites

180,491

 

197,858

 

9.62%

Huts & Lodges

34,961

 

48,153

 

37.73%

Campsites

  • There continues to be high demand for large, coastal campgrounds at Kiwi summer hotspots such as Northland, Coromandel and the upper South Island.
  • Popular campsites in Northland including Otamure Bay and Uretiti Beach are both down 8% in bookings compared to the same time last year, while Waikawau Bay and Port Jackson campsites in Coromandel have increased in bookings by 15% and 18%, respectively. This is likely due to Northland currently under the red traffic light setting and Coromandel being under the orange traffic light setting.
  • Tōtaranui Campground (near Abel Tasman Coast Track) has the highest number of bookings out of all DOC campgrounds in New Zealand this summer.
  • While DOC is expecting a busy season there is still lots of space over summer and in off-peak times across the hundreds of conservation campsites, including places in the South Island.

Huts

  • There is demand for well-known huts and easily accessible huts this summer, especially over the Christmas/New Year period and during weekends.
  • The most popular huts this summer will most likely be the Pinnacles Hut in Coromandel and Mueller Hut in Canterbury, with over 1,000 people planning to stay at each respective hut. Family-friendly huts such as Turere Lodge in the Wellington region and Kōhanga Atawhai – Manson Nicholls Hut in the West Coast will also be popular over summer.
  • Places with high occupancy rates over summer include Cape Brett Hut in Northland (88%), Motukawanui Hut in Northland (82%), and Ōtamahua Hut in Canterbury (77%).

Cancellations

  • DOC announced a new vaccine policy for visitor facilities on 2 Dec 2021.
  • Since the announcement was made 6,090 bookings were made and 1,998 bookings were cancelled. DOC has seen an increase in both cancellations (up by 1,440) and bookings (up by 1,516) compared to the same period last year.
  • Several factors may have contributed to this including the introduction of DOC’s vaccination policy and uncertainty regarding both COVID-19 transmission risks and travel restrictions over the coming months.
  • DOC will provide a full refund for COVID-19-related cancellations including if people are unwell, subject to travel restrictions, concerned about health risks or are not able to meet the vaccination requirements.

Contact

For media enquiries contact:

Email: media@doc.govt.nz

MIL OSI