30 May 2024

Bookings for more Great Walks run smoothly after earlier failures

8:55 pm on 30 May 2024

Bookings for another round of Great Walks appear to have gone without a hitch, after the Department of Conservation's system was overwhelmed with people desperate to book a spot on the world famous tracks.

DOC apologised to frustrated trampers who could not book huts and campsites on the Milford and Lake Waikaremoana tracks this summer because its website struggled to cope with the volume of bookings on Tuesday.

Bookings for the Abel Tasman Coast Track, Rakiura Track and Whanganui Journey opened at 9.30am on Thursday morning, DOC reporting the system was running smoothly.

On Tuesday, 11,000 people were logged into its booking system at 9.30am, which struggled for the first 11 minutes.

The system was rebooted after 15 minutes, which would have looked like a "crash" to some people, DOC said.

It was the second time in two years that DOC's system had failed, despite assurances the situation would not be repeated.

Bridge to Nowhere - Whanganui Journey | by Department of Conservation

Along the Whanganui Journey track. Photo: Department of Conservation

By 11.15am, there were about 2800 bookings for the Milford and 400 for the Lake Waikaremoana Great Walks.

The department is yet to provide data for bookings for the Abel Tasman Coast Track, Rakiura Track and Whanganui Journey.

DOC heritage and visitors director Cat Wilson told RNZ on Tuesday the department had "lost patience" with the booking system vendor.

"I'm really disappointed that it hasn't worked because we've had assurances from the IT service provider who provides the booking system that it would work and it would be able to manage the capacity. So what we will be doing is having a very serious look at what the booking system is and how we manage it for next year and it may look quite different," she said.

People who missed out should keep checking the website in case others cancel, she said.

"People do cancel their bookings, but also have a think about when to go that are outside peak times like holidays, long weekends and the Christmas holidays and also look at some of those walks that aren't at capacity all the time. And there are plenty of those and they're also really fantastic walks," she said.

Bookings for the Routeburn, Paparoa, Kepler, Heaphy, Tongariro Northern Circuit tracks open over the next week.

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