great walks fees for foreigners up to double price
Foreign visitors will be charged twice as much to use some of the country's best walking tracks, the Government says. Conservation Minister Maggie Barry said fees would be doubled on the five most popular walks - Milford, Routeburn, Kepler, Abel Tasman and Tongariro. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11911049
Devils and detail, as always ... So do I now need to obtain and carry an NZ passport to book and use a hut with my pommy accent without paying double? Do hut wardens now have to check passports as well as hut tickets to check that the user really is the confirmed kiwi that made to booking? Given how many green campervans I see parked for the night on the edge of the state highway at Blue Pools to avoid the $8/night charge at the comfortable, spacious Cameron Campground 1km down the road, I can see enforcement will be 9/10ths of the challenge. Especially given we're talking about a ~$50 a night difference for huts, not just the $8 they're avoiding paying for a campground.
bigger incentive to dodge paying
That's always a challenge. If there is a loophole then someone will be exploiting it. When I was a poor student I did this a lot (although it typically would be me using a bivvy bag somewhere discrete with a bit of shelter) If they were formally checking, I would assume any proof of residence would be acceptable.
Isnt Tongariro a free walk? Doubling that wont make a big difference.
The easy way to implement this would be to just double all the fees, and implement those prices on the booking website. If you are a resident, you can access your 50% discount by coming into a DOC office and showing your NZ passport / other passport with residence visa when you book. That way everyone, NZ resident or not ends up paying the doubled price for all the popular walks like the Milford Track as they sell out so quickly online, it's impossible to get a booking by going into an office. That's the way it works now - as an FMC member, you can in principle get a discount on the Great Walks, in practice you can't as the way you have to access the discount means you'll miss out on getting a booking. Good for business I guess...
They're talking about the Tongariro Northern Circuit which is $36 a night in season I think. $140 a night on the milford, $130 on the kepler, $72 on the Tongariro, $64 on the Whanganui… that's a lot for a hut without even a hot shower. That's ridiculous. There will just be more people hiding along the track… Personally I'll do as usual: go off-track or on small tracks and avoid the busy and expensive huts. I prefer the quietness, away from the crowds, the drones and the boring flat tracks. Though I wanted to try the Whanganui this year, but if that comes into effect this year I'll just look up doing something else, for two people the price difference is just too much, there's better stuff to do for that amount of money.
blame the popularity of the tracks and blame DOC and tourism nz for marketing them so heavily. this is the international market rate for high profile tracks. so they decided to cash in, pay up to $140 a night to share a bunkroom with dozens of other smelly trampers , some of them snoring heavily.... then when people realise their trip can easily be torpedoed by bad weather when they are part of the way along the trip, they won't be happy...
$140 a night does seem a bit obscene, for comparison a bed in Refuge A on Mount Olympus Greece is 13eur (21NZD) a night and the facilities provided are much better then what you would find on the Milford. French Refuges typically charge out at around 45eur a night or $70. Japanese huts are a bit more, around $90 a night. Some of these tracks see a lot more people than the Great Walks.
"Conservation Minister Maggie Barry said even though the Great Walks were immensely popular they were making a loss." There needs to be push back against this nonsense. I saw their figures, they showed a surplus after operational expenses and depreciation on assets, the figures only went into minus when the included a 'use of money' charge, calculated as the return they thought they might have got if they had invested that money elsewhere. The income side only included the direct hut fees income from the walks. If they are taking about return on capital invested in comparison to how much they might have got investing it elsewhere, surely they need to include the income the investment in tracks and huts creates by attracting people to NZ and an estimate of the GST and other taxes as they spend money while they are in NZ before and after a tramp. How many overseas people come to NZ specifically and primarily because we do have a good hut and track infrastructure and how much do they spend in total while here?
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