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Modest fee increases announced for some facilities

15 May 2008

Modest fee increases announced for some DOC facilities

The Department of Conservation has announced some modest fee increases for some of its high profile walks for the coming season/year.

In announcing the increases, Acting General Manager Operations - Southern, Graeme Ayres stressed that most of the hut charges on the Great Walks had not increased for four years, and in the case of the serviced huts in other areas, these had been stable since 1999.

"The cost of servicing these facilities has steadily increased and in particular we are facing sharply rising prices for fuel, so we are seeking some modest recovery of these costs. The department is not immune from the general price increases going on in the economy and we have to meet the shortfalls in hut revenue from within our budget. Even with these increases the revenue falls well short of the servicing costs of these facilities, let alone the cost of building them.

"We do have a set of principles which have been agreed with recreational user representatives and these are based around consistency, the standard of facility being provided and the fees not being a significant barrier to recreating in protected areas But they do recognise that those who derive benefit from these facilities should contribute to the cost of their upkeep.

"We believe these increases are fully consistent with these principles and we know from our surveys of track users on Abel Tasman Great Walk that the vast majority of users believe they are getting value for money from the facilities provided," Mr Ayres said.

"We also abolished the charges for young people under 18 on these Great Walks and we believe this will be helpful to families wanting to use these facilities," he said.

Most of the fee increases affect the Great Walks and will add $5 to the cost of a hut for an adult hut ticket. On the Milford and Routeburn tracks for example, the cost will rise from $40 to $45 per night, and on Tongariro the cost will rise from $20 to $25 per night.

The cost of camps on these walks, which are usually situated alongside the huts, will rise from $10 per night per adult to $15. On the Tongariro Great Walk the cost of camping alongside the huts will increase from $15 to $20 to help mitigate against the environmental impacts of these campsites, and to encourage trampers to use the huts.

Campsites in other areas will be excluded from fee increases, although a small premium may be charged over the five week Christmas/New Year period for reasons of meeting the increased costs of running campsites during their busy periods.

There will be no increase in charges for the facilities on either the Abel Tasman Track and the Waikaremoana Great Walk, as these were increased last year, and nor is the Whanganui Great Walk to be part of this current fee increase.

The cost of serviced huts will rise from $10 per night to $15. There are 95 serviced huts, mainly in backcountry locations throughout the country, and they are serviced in the sense that heating fuel is provided for hut occupants. There will be no change in the charges for the use of standard huts and there are over 400 of these on walking tracks throughout the country.

"We provide a whole range of recreational opportunities for all visitors on the public conservation estate and we are confident that families in particular, will still be able to afford and appreciate these wonderful places," Mr Ayres concluded.


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