The Hump Ridge Track takes a step forward

Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track Ltd general manager Cedric Wedderburn.

Western Southand's Hump Ridge Track is only one of two South Island contenders to potentially become New Zealand's next Great Walk.

Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track Ltd general manager Cedric Wedderburn said he was confident the track would gain the prestigious status at the end of the year. 

The Department of Conservation (DOC) ranked the track as the top submission in its process to select two new Great Walks for its network.

The track was one of seven short-listed submissions in June and one of only two in the South Island – the other is the Waiau-Toa/Molesworth in Canterbury.

Mr Wedderburn said it was an obvious progression for the Hump Ridge.

"There's not a lot that needs to be done to achieve that [Great Walk standard].

"A lot of the feedback we get is that it's a better experience than Milford or Kepler or any of those other Great Walks – that's subjective opinion, but there's a lot of support for it."

It ticked the boxes DOC was looking for based on policy, feasibility and visitor experience.

But, the decision to submit the track to be part of the Great Walk network also worked in favour of the

Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track Charitable Trust, which has the concession to run the track through Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track Limited – a subsidiary of the trust Mr Wedderburn works for.

He said the decision came down to long term viability and sustainability of the track from an economic perspective, positive public feedback, and the potential to provide a a solution to two different problems.

"One of our biggest challenges is that we've never had the resources to market.

"What the Great Walks platform does it that it gives us a world-wide marketing platform and that enables us to improve the customer experience."

If the track became a Great Walk, Mr Wedderburn said DOC's South Coast Track, which connects up with Hump Ridge, would receive needed upgrades.

Last year 2400 people walked Hump Ridge, which is under half the concession granted for 5000 walkers.

Mr Wedderburn said the goal of the track was to get up to 4500. He was not sure how the track would operate if it was to be selected as a Great Walk.

But, he said he would be happy to continue operating as is.


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