New Special Interest tourism research released on walking and hiking

New Zealand has seen over a million visitors participate in a walking and hiking holiday since 2009, with one in four holiday visitors participating in either activity during their visit, according to the latest research released by Tourism New Zealand.

Tourism New Zealand's insights into the walking and hiking sector reinforce the popularity of this Special Interest focus area, showing that each year an average of 254,000 international visitors participated in a walking or hiking activity during the five year period of 2009-2013.

Walking and Hiking is a priority Special Interest area and TNZ is committed to attracting more international tourists to New Zealand to participate in walking and hiking-based holidays because these visitors stay longer and spend significantly more than a typical visitor during their trip to New Zealand - $3,600 compared to the average spend of $2,800.

Western markets dominate participation rates in walking and hiking tourism, with most walking and hiking tourists to New Zealand coming from Australia, USA, UK, Germany, Japan and the Netherlands.

The report also includes trends and characteristics of these tourists, providing an overview of tourists that visit New Zealand to participate in walking and hiking activities.

Walking and Hiking visitors are defined as international visitors, aged 15 years and over, who participate in some form of walking or hiking activity (over and above a half hour bushwalk) at least once while travelling in New Zealand.

Key insights from the report include: 

  • 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. 

TNZ's other priority Special Interest areas include Cycling and Mountain Biking, Fly-fishing Golf, and Ski.   

You can read the full report here.