Southland's scenic Hump Ridge Track is set to become the nation's newest "Great Walk".
The remote 61km trail west of Invercargill will receive a $5 million upgrade to be added to New Zealand's top tier of hikes by 2022, Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage announced in the nearby rural town of Tuatapere on Sunday.
The route takes hikers from southern coastlines to rich forest and across alpine areas, and Sage says Great Walk status could see more visitors drawn to the area.
"Hump Ridge offers the walker remote and unforgettable beauty and history," she said.
"This is a significant investment in Southland tourism and the Tuatapere community."
There are currently nine Great Walks across the country, including the popular Heaphy, Kepler and Milford Tracks, and the Tongariro circuit.
But while Hump Ridge is getting a facelift, another route has missed out.
Plans to add the Queen Charlotte Track, in the Marlborough Sounds, to the Great Walk list have been dropped due to "insurmountable challenges" around public access to all parts of the 71km hike.
Meanwhile, work is still continuing on getting the Te Paki Coastal Track – in Northland, put to the list.
"The cultural value attributed to some iconic locations along the track would arguably exceed those found across other major tracks in New Zealand," Sage said.
"It is clear, however, that this experience can only be truly 'great' if it is founded on a strong and meaningful partnership with iwi and is looked at as part of a considered and strategic vision for sustainable tourism development in the region."
The three walks were the finalists chosen after a call for public submissions in 2017.
The Government Budget that year set aside about $20 million over five years to upgrade the network.