Bookings for the coming season on the Whanganui River are building up, and that has Conservation Department staff busy working on access and accommodation facilities.
Recent floods have meant Department of Conservation (DoC) rangers trying to improve access from the river to huts and campsites.
The 145-kilometre canoe trip from Taumarunui to Pipiriki is one of New Zealand's nine Great Walks and its season starts on Monday — October 1 — and runs till April 30.
Facilities in Whanganui National Park are in moderate condition, operations manager Jasmine Hessell said, and booking indications are strong.
During the Great Walks season, huts and campsites must be booked online in advance. The rest of the year they are available on a first come, first served basis.
Volunteer rangers will be at John Coull Hut as usual this season, while DoC rangers will be at Tieke and Whakahoro huts and Ohinepane campsite, and roam the river to ensure compliance.
The track in the Mangapurua stretch of the Mountains to Sea cycleway has been improved at bluffs and access points.
"In dry conditions the track will ride well," Hessell said.
Visitors are asked to be well prepared, checking weather forecasts and the DOC website for updates before leaving. They should hire a guide if they have little wilderness experience, and they should be respectful of other users.
They are asked to pack out their waste, leaving no trace behind them.
Hessell wanted to thank all the volunteers, staff and tāngata whenua involved in getting park facilities open and ready for the coming season.
The increasing number of tourists has led to some changes nationally. Overseas visitors will be charged more for huts on New Zealand's most popular Great Walks this season. The walks are the Abel Tasman, Kepler, Routeburn and Milford tracks.
A new Great Walk is being sought, to take pressure off existing ones. Possible replacements have been narrowed down to three - the Te Paki Coastal Walk in Northland, the Queen Charlotte Track in Marlborough and the Hump Ridge Track in Southland.