The Te Paki Coastal Track has made it into a line-up of three wilderness walks which could join the prestigious New Zealand Great Walks network.
If the Department of Conservation (DoC) boosts the track to a Great Walk, it will share the same status as New Zealand's world famous Tongariro, Abel Tasman Coast, Milford, Routeburn tracks.
DoC director general Lou Sanson announced the Te Paki track (Te Rerenga Wairua/Cape Reinga), the Hump Ridge Track (Southland) and Queen Charlotte Track (Marlborough Sounds) will be further considered for development into Great Walks.
DoC is due to complete more detailed work on the three front runners, engage with community groups, iwi, and representatives from the recreation, conservation and tourism sectors, and weigh up the costs of bringing the three tracks to Great Walks standard.
At least one will become a new Great Walk, with the final decision to be made later this year.
The Great Walks have well-formed tracks, high standard huts and facilities, providing a premium, accessible experience, Sanson said.
"Some of these walks are becoming increasingly crowded at peak times. By expanding our Great Walks network, we can cater for the growing interest amongst New Zealanders and international visitors for world-class walking opportunities in spectacular surroundings."
Budget 2017 allocated $12.7 million to expand the network to help reduce pressure on the current Great Walks, provide economic benefits to regional communities and showcase New Zealand's full range of outstanding landscapes.
Sanson said two other walks from the seven looked at initially also have significant potential and would be considered for the Great Walks in the future. These are Tarawera Trail (Bay of Plenty) and Wairau/Molesworth (Canterbury).
There are no Great Walks in Northland at this stage.