NZ Herald article on Great Walking booking system **How to secure a spot on Milford Track and Great Walk booking myths busted** >The first Great Walks open tomorrow for booking over the 22/23 season. You had better be quick! >As sure as spring follows winter - and one foot follows the other - Great Walk season is preceded by a rush to book out the most popular huts. >Last year the Milford Track was full within the first 10 minutes of opening. >Only it wasn't sold out, says DoC. >A large number of these 'bookings' are re-released back to the system, moments later, says Ross Shearer, DoC's Booking Service Manager. >"Slots temporarily reserved by a partial booking that the customer never fully completed are released back into the pool after 25 mins," he says. >Some "keen" hiking groups coordinate bookings, all logging in to see who gets the best dates. >What looks like 120 full bunks might hide any number of indecisive hikers, holding spots for their mates. Unwanted bunks will appear back on the website, before long. >"If you fail to secure your spot at 9.30 when bookings open, you could check again at 10 am," is his advice. >What are the tricks? And is anyone cheating the system? >The Routeburn and Kepler tracks also saw huts fill up over the Christmas and Easter holidays almost instantly last year. Even without competition from international visitors, it appears there are more hikers than spaces for them on the top Great Walks. >Many disgruntled walkers want to get to the bottom of what's happening. >Last year six guided walking companies were investigated for "gaming the system", suspected of booking out huts to later sell to paying clients. There are even rumours of 'booking bots' snaffling up tickets for tech savvy walkers. >But Shearer says there's no sign that hikers automated services to book spaces faster than anyone else. >"Booking Bots for Great Walks bookings on opening days are an urban myth," he says. >The logins last year showed no signs of 'automatic' generation or pre-filled forms being submitted by scripts. All the bookings are connected to at least one real hiker. >"Because of the way the booking process is designed and how inventory is reserved early in the booking process, there would be no advantage to using a bot anyway." >Are paying tourists taking all the spots? There is no special treatment for concessionaires. Guides must book bunks for clients in the same way as private hiking groups. >There are 280,000 bed nights in Great Walk huts over the season. Tour companies, with concessions from DoC, make up just 4 per cent of the annual bookings. >Last year some operators in Heaphy, Paparoa and Rakiura tracks were investigated for "irregularities", submitting bookings which were incomplete and without proof that they already had clients lined up to fill them. >Steve Taylor, DoC's director of Heritage and Visitors said this was a tiny proportion of bunks, "roughly 0.2 per cent of Great Walk hut and campsite spaces across the season". >Have I missed my chance for another year? Milford by its nature fills up quickly, however there are nine other Great Walks on the network. All of which are kept to a similar standard and spread around the country. >While long weekends and holidays are always in demand, some of the larger walks will Abel Tasman Coastal Trail has 22 huts and campsites, compared to just three on Milford. And unlike the alpine Great Walks it is open all year round and rarely full. >There are many factors that can help your chances of getting the space you want. Flexibility is key to this. >Be flexible and prepared to hike solo On the tracks that offer camping, tented spaces are not only greater in number but cheaper. >Although, this requires carrying a tent and more equipment on the way. If your heart is set on getting a space in one of the famous huts, it can pay to be patient. There are always a number of cancellations over a season. >"Cancellations can have many causes from Covid outbreaks, extreme weather events, hut closures, to "life happens" to individual people - so it can fluctuate a lot from one year to the next on any given track," says Shearer. >"There is always a small chance of a previously fully-booked track or time slot having available spaces from time to time as cancellations come in." >Being flexible, or prepared to hike solo, can help take advantage of the rare empty bunks on the popular Milford and Routeburn trails. >Although this is not an option for many would-be great walkers. >Apart from teaming up with mates, and getting ready to book when the season goes live, it seems hard to up your odds of booking a slot on your walk of choice. >Come prepared with backup dates and backup walks, if you don't get your first choice. >Like the actual trails themselves, Great Walk booking is about being flexible, well prepared, not being disheartened if plans change and appreciating when conditions go your way. >When the Great Walks open for booking The booking opening dates will open in four tranches, with the Milford opening first on Tuesday. >Tuesday 3 May 2022, 9.30 am >- Milford Track >Wednesday 4 May 2022, 9.30 am >- Lake Waikaremoana Track >- Heaphy Track >- Routeburn Track >Thursday 5 May 2022, 9.30 am >- Whanganui Journey >- Abel Tasman Coast Track >- Rakiura Track >Friday 6 May 2022, 9.30 am >- Tongariro Northern Circuit >- Paparoa Track >- Kepler Track
full of great snorers...
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Forum Tracks, routes, and huts
Started by pseudo
On 2 May 2022
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