From Tuesday, DoC opens up the first tranche of backcountry huts for booking, with updated prices for the 2021/22 season.
With hundreds of huts in New Zealand's most scenic locations, walkers will be greeted by a number of upgrades to facilities. However this year also sees the biggest price increases to some huts in over a decade.
With the prospect of more international guests booking hiking holidays in New Zealand, DoC campsites and backcountry huts have been repriced for both Kiwis and overseas hikers.
Eleven of the most popular non-Great Walk huts will see an increase to encourage trampers to explore different parts of the country or visit at quieter times of the year.
"This year's changes allow for a more nuanced approach to price-setting and have been designed to improve cost recovery," says Steve Taylor, DoC's Heritage and Visits Director.
For the first time, DoC is also introducing "weekend pricing" in a trial.
"Weekend, seasonal and differential pricing are expected to make a positive difference, but we'll be monitoring the effectiveness of this approach."
The biggest price increases are for international guests wanting to book Great Walk huts, facing an average of $20 extra a night. However, price increases on the more popular backcountry huts and camp sites are far more modest, between $1 to $5 extra per head.
Taylor says many of these price increases are long overdue with "many prices, such as for the Backcountry Huts, haven't changed for a decade."
"There are still lots of free or lower-cost options. People can visit DoC's website or visitor centres to find an opportunity to suit their needs."
Bookings will begin from Tuesday 11 May, non-Great Walk huts followed by DoC campsites on 13 May will be available to reserve for summer.
The Great Walks will be open for booking between 15 and 17 June, beginning with the most popular Milford, Heaphy and Rakiura tracks.
Guide to the Great Walks price changes
Last year many huts saw their most popular season, in spite of borders being closed to international hikers. Stewart Island's Rakiura Track had its busiest season on record and huts on the Milford track booked out within 1 hours of opening.
The price increases, particularly for overseas visitors will be increased in peak season, with Milford, Kepler and Routeburn seeing $37 to $40 increases.
However some tracks will be cheaper this summer for both Kiwis and overseas visitors.
Huts on the Whanganui River Journey, which can be done via kayak, have dropped by $2 to $30 in an effort to get more trekkers along the river.
The Abel Tasman and Heaphy tracks have become cheaper for all hikers during winter, to encourage more hikers over the off season.
Last summer, 75 per cent more New Zealanders booked into a Great Walk compared the previous year.
"It has been fantastic to see so many New Zealanders take advantage of these walks while border restrictions have been in place," said Taylor.
"Milford Track is always our quickest seller, with limited bed nights available and we expect it to again book out early."
DoC runs over 900 huts around New Zealand's most scenic wilderness areas. These Backcountry huts cost around $46m per year to maintain, not including the Great Walks.
To book huts visit: