06 August 2007

New Zealand Great Walks free for under 18s

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In a boon for New Zealand tourists and backpackers, hut and campsite fees on New Zealand's most popular trekking routes will be waived for people under the age of 18, the Conservation Ministry announced yesterday.

The minister for the environment, Chris Carter, says: "This initiative is designed to reduce the barriers to more young people walking New Zealand's most spectacular tracks with their family, their friends or with school groups."

"By abolishing fees for those under 18, we can reduce by a third from NZ$270 (£100) to NZ$180 (£67) the cost of walking the Abel Tasman Coast Track for a family of two adults and two teenagers," Mr Carter said.

Staying in huts and camping will be free for young people on the nine Great Walks, which are very popular with tourists. The changes will take effect in July 2008

The nine tracks are Lake Waikaremoana, Tongariro Northern Circuit, Heaphy Track, Abel Tasman Coast Track, Kepler Track, Routeburn Track, Milford Track, the Rakiura Track and the Whanganui canoeing journey. Fees vary on the tracks.

Under-18-year-olds are currently charged NZ$15 (£5.50) a night for a hut and NZ$6 (£2.20) for a campsite in Abel Tasman during peak season.

On the more expensive Routeburn, Kepler and Milford Tracks, hut fees are currently up to about NZ$20 (£7.50) a night for a person aged 5-17. Campsites range up to NZ$7.50 (£2.80) per night.

New Zealand has a comprehensive network of huts and campsites, which allow tourists and locals alike to enjoy the country's spectacular scenery and great outdoors.

Fees on other tracks are already very low - about NZ$5 (£2) a night for serviced huts and NZ$2.50 (£1) a night for standard huts. Children aged ten and under can already stay free of charge.

Anyone interested in taking a working holiday to New Zealand should confirm their eligibility by taking Visa Bureau's online assessment.

Find out more about New Zealand visas and immigration.

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