Great Walks: Rush of bookings for Milford Track

Trampers rushed to take advantage of the release of slots on the first Grand Marche of the 2022/23 season.

Within the first 15 minutes of going on sale at 9.30am, virtually every hut on the Department of Conservation booking site for the Milford Track had been filled.

DOC reservations manager Ross Shearer said the request was anticipated. Last year the Kiwis clinched places on the Milford Track in “record time”.

“Early observations show a high level of demand for Milford Track bookings this morning as expected,” Shearer said.

Trampers have lunch with a view of the Milford Track at the end of March.

Evan Harding / Stuff

Trampers have lunch with a view of the Milford Track at the end of March.

* Milford Track, a ‘spiritual place’ as 30 years of Great Walks are celebrated
* Great Walks: Milford Track slots for the upcoming season are selling out in ‘record time’
* Great Walks reservations open next week

“The track was nearly full, apart from a few cancellations and changes to ongoing bookings, well within the first 30 minutes of opening. DOC’s booking service handled the high volume of bookings well in a short period of time.

The Milford Track is the first of the Great Walks to open to reservations. On Wednesday, the Lake Waikaremoana track, the Heaphy track and the Routeburn track become available. On Thursday, Whanganui Journey, Abel Tasman Coast Track and Rakiura Track are online, while Tongariro Northern Circuit, Paparoa Track and Kepler Track are ready for booking on Friday.

This season is a special anniversary as it announces the 30th anniversary of the Grandes Marches.

Created in 1992, the idea was to manage iconic tracks that became overwhelmed with walkers camping anywhere near the track.

Last summer, more than 40,000 Kiwi hikers took part in the Great Walks, up from 48,000 the previous year due to Omicron restrictions. The good news is that this year’s numbers are still up 53% on 2019/20.

At its inception, the Great Walks network included seven of New Zealand’s most popular multi-day walks: Tongariro Northern Circuit, Lake Waikaremoana, Abel Tasman, Heaphy, Routeburn, Milford, Kepler and the new Rakiura Track.

Several years later, the multi-day canoe adventure Whanganui Journey joined the network, followed by Paparoa Track in 2019.

New Zealand’s next Great Walk will be the Hump Ridge Track in Southland, with work to make it more accessible to more people expected to be completed in time for the 2023/24 walking season.

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