TODAY |

Government to double Great Walk hut fees for tourists - gives DOC big additional cash boost

The government has announced that the fee paid by international visitors to undertake New Zealand's great walks will double.

New Zealanders will be exempt from the fee which will come into force if National is re-elected. Source: 1 NEWS

Additionally, Prime Minister Bill English said other walks would have a rise in charges by 50 per cent.

"The great walks, popular as they are globally, actually make a $1m loss," Mr English said.

"We believe it's fair that those willing to travel around the world to have those experiences help us to maintain those walks."

Mr English also announced that Department of Conservation community project funding will increase dramatically - going from $4.6m to $10m per year.

"This is how we're going to achieve predator free," Mr English said, adding that community funding will "underpin community engagement and a whole range of conservation activities".

"DOC can't do all the conservation work that needs to be done."

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry said she has "every confidence" that the goal of New Zealand being predator free can be achieved with the help of the extra funding.

She said the extra money gained would be in the area of about $4m per year.

"I think people have been feeling for a very long time that they are getting a bargain," Ms Barry said.

Certain very popular tracks would receive a slightly higher increase, while other "less traveled" routes would be raised by a lesser amount, in an effort to balance visitor numbers, she said.

DOC announced in May that hut fees would be increased by a "modest" amount - the Milford Track huts went from $54 to $70 per night - so today's changes will mean a hut night will now be $140.

They said there will be no changes to the fees for New Zealand residents.