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Great Walks celebrate 30th anniversary with bookings set to open

New Zealand's Great Walks are celebrating their 30th anniversary this year, with the 2022-23 booking season opening next week.

Lake Mackenzie
File photo: Lake McKenzie on the Routeburn track Photo: Department of Conservation

Speaking from the Tongariro Northern Circuit, Minister of Conservation Kiri Allan said the walks were important for recreation, tourism, and conservation.

"Great Walks are New Zealand's most popular multi-day hikes, providing unparalleled access to some of the country's most incredible natural landscapes, wildlife and cultural heritage," she said.

"With travel restrictions in place, we saw a 75 percent increase in New Zealanders getting out on the Great Walks over summer 2020/21. This coming season we look forward to welcoming overseas visitors on these walks once again."

Created in 1992, the Great Walks were an attempt to manage iconic tracks that were becoming overwhelmed, by limiting the number of people allowed at one time.

Efforts were also made to protect and restore the biodiversity along these walks.

"Through these conservation efforts we've seen huge gains such as takahē restored to the Heaphy Track and 43,000 hectares of sustained predator control alongside six of the walks," Allan said.

She advised people to do their homework to know what skills and equipment were required for each track, as well as the expected conditions.

New Zealand's next Great Walk will be the Hump Ridge Track in Southland, with work underway to make the existing walk more accessible.