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Special Interest

New Zealand's walking and hiking offering includes three large world heritage sites - Tongariro National Park, Te Wahipounamu and the Subantarctic Islands - and nine Great Walks across the North and South Islands, as well as many one-day options. 

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Our activity promotes Walking and Hiking as 'Naturally awe-inspiring'- to highlight the fact that our diverse landscapes, wildlife and environments are not found anywhere else in the world.

With hundreds of walks and hikes across the country to suit all abilities, including guided options, this sector can appeal to a wide range of international visitors.

What do we know about this sector of travellers?

  • Between 2009-2013, over a million international visitors participated in a walking or hiking activity during their visit to New Zealand. This is an average of 254,000 per year.

  • Those travelling to New Zealand for walking and hiking are staying longer and spending significantly more than the average visitor: $3,600 compared to $2,800.[1]

  • There is a significant high value segment in the walking and hiking sector with over 20 per cent of international tourists saying they spend over $5,000 on their visit to New Zealand.

  • The most popular places to walk or hike are in the South Island and the top region to visit for this activity is Mackenzie, which features a variety of tracks around Lakes Tekapo, Pukaki, Ohau and Benmore as well as Omarama, Twizel, Kurow, Aoraki Mt Cook National Park and Lindis Pass.

  • The top five National Parks for walking or hiking are Fiordland, Mt Cook/Aoraki, Lake Wanaka/Mt Aspiring, Westland Tai Poutini and Tongariro.

  • International walking and hiking tourists are predominantly independent travellers who travel without children or dependants.

  • Highlighting a youthful demographic, with approximately 49 per cent of visitors aged between 15-34, the report also reveals a significant older demographic, with 32 per cent of visitors aged between 45-65 plus.

  • These visitors show a strong preference for sporting and wildlife related activities, and additional popular activities often include cycling, climbing, canoeing, sky-diving, whale watching and horse trekking.

  • Markets that provide the most walking and hiking tourists include Australia, USA, UK, Germany, Japan and the Netherlands.

  • Tourism New Zealand has undertaken in-depth walking and hiking research, which can be accessed here.

Who are we targeting?

  • Active Considerers aged 45 and over from Australia, USA, UK, and Germany who view nature/scenic attractions as key reasons for travel. Most of them are seasoned travellers with the time to enjoy themselves at their own pace. They may have walked or hiked many of the world's great walking and hiking trails already, heard about New Zealand's trails, but not visited yet.

  • People from Australia, USA, UK, Germany, Japan and China who might consider travelling to New Zealand, and may participate in walking and hiking while they are here. Walking may not be their main hobby, but they are open to the idea of walking or hiking if it means they get to experience more sights.

New Zealand's walking and hiking offering has been successfully marketed in Australia, Japan and Korea

Key insight and our points of difference

These visitors want to immerse themselves in natural environments and travel through them at their own pace.

New Zealand's points of difference are:

  • Accessibility (to unique flora, fauna and wildlife and the ability to immerse yourself in nature)

  • Diversity (of landscapes and walking/hiking environments unrivalled anywhere else in the world)

  • People (friendly locals and guides who provide a helping hand and local expertise)

Key barriers

The key barriers for both target audiences is that there are other beautiful walking and hiking destinations these travellers also admire. Also, New Zealand is mostly only known for a few of our great walks, which are considered more extreme and only suited to a 'hard core' walker.

Therefore, the goal is to make walking and hiking travellers feel inspired to come to New Zealand for their next walking and hiking holiday.

Who are we working with?

The Department of Conservation (DoC) is New Zealand's largest tourism provider, and alongside managing the walking tracks, DoC promotes them in association with tourism partners such as Tourism New Zealand and Air New Zealand. Currently DoC and TNZ work in partnership to promote the country's most unique and iconic outdoor experiences directly to identified target markets and trade, with the Great Walks being just one product offering. As part of this partnership newzealand.com has direct links to the DoC website, furthering integration through our digital channels and benefiting both parties.

See New Zealand's walking and hiking offering on newzealand.com.

[1] This average spend figure is based on a five year average calculated between 2009‒2013.