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Department of Conservation huts selling out like in-demand concert tickets

Department of Conservation huts are selling out like in-demand concert tickets, with the chance to tramp some of the country's great walking tracks next summer snapped up in minutes.

Australian visitors Dane and Sabrina heard about the ever-popular Abel Tasman National Park from a Lonely Planet guide and a family member.

They visited the area today on a daytrip, where they saw "seals, penguins and other birds" and are already planning to come back to tick off the entire walk.

They'll be joining the queue of walkers already signed up for the new season.

Department of Conservation Booking Services Manager Ross Shearer says they’ve had "over 9000 bookings come through" for their huts and campsites in the first week.

"That's up around 10 per cent on what we did last year," he told 1 NEWS.

Always one to pull the crowds, the Milford Track's already 80 per cent full for the year ahead.

But one surprise was the lesser known Rakiura Track on Stewart Island, which shot up nearly 130 per cent.

Experienced Nelson tramper Mike Crehan says he’s heard from lots of people "who say as soon as it opens you need to be on there and tapping away at the keyboard to try and get a place".

Abel Tasman National Park. Source: 1 NEWS

He and his friends made sure they didn’t miss out on a milestone trip, successfully booking the Heaphy Track for a 50th birthday celebration later this year.

Mr Shearer says at this stage, "70 per cent of our bookings are by New Zealanders, which is really good".

And as the walks grow in popularity, the choices are increasing, too.

The new Paparoa Track opens in December and had 564 bookings on the first day of opening, 91 per cent of which were made by Kiwis.

Another three are on the shortlist, but each still needs work to meet the Great Walk standard.

In the meantime, there's room for more hikers and bikers. DOC is encouraging people to “get online and have a look”, with plenty of places still left to book.

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Nine thousand bookings for next summer have been made in the first week of availability. Source: 1 NEWS