Visitor Trends Report



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Visitor Trends Report 

Tongariro Whanganui Taranaki 

Conservancy 

 

 



 

 

 



 

 

 



 

 

 



 

Prepared by: 

Michael Harbrow 

 

 



Social Science Advisor (Visitor) 

 Partnerships, Historic & Visitor Unit 

Wellington 


 

 Introduction 

This report outlines the key trends affecting recreation and tourism both nationally and in Tongariro 

Whanganui Taranaki Conservancy. It has been written for Department of Conservation staff, contractors 

and local stakeholders and is intended to provide supplementary information to support the Regional 

Tourism Trends and Opportunities report being prepared by Angus & Associates.  

 

Five broad topics with short and long term effects on recreation and tourism are discussed in the report. 



These are  

 



International tourism,  

 



Domestic tourism 

 



Visitation to public conservation land in the Tongariro Whanganui Taranaki region 

 



New Zealanders’ participation in outdoor recreation 

 



Demographic change at national and local level.  

 

Each chapter covers the major sources of available information drawing on both publically available data, 



such as national tourism datasets, and information held by the Department. Information has been 

summarised at the beginning of each chapter. 



International tourism trends 

 

This section outlines the major sources of information regarding the number and origin of international 



visitors to New Zealand. Other aspects including visitors’ spending, length of stay and levels of demand 

for park and nature based activities are also discussed.  

 

The available information suggests that international tourism is changing and will continue to do so. The 



number of overseas tourists visiting New Zealand is growing but visitors are spending less and taking 

shorter trips. The mix of visitors is also changing with increasing numbers of visitors from China and 

Australia and a sharp decline in some of New Zealand’s traditional markets including the UK, USA, Japan 

and South Korea. This trend is forecast to continue over the next 5 years.  

 

While park and nature based experiences remain popular the changing mix of international visitors 



presents challenges for DOC. If the current trends continue there may be static or declining numbers of 

international visitors for many areas of public conservation land, particularly those that are distant from 

Auckland (and other main entry ports), or from major attractions and travel routes. The various data 

sources are discussed in more detail below.  



Visitor Arrivals 

Growth in international visitor arrivals (Statistics New Zealand 2009, Ministry of Business, 

Innovation & Employment 2013c) has slowed after a long period of rapid growth that finished in 

2004. There were 2,564,618 international visitor arrivals in 2012 which was 21.8% higher than in 2003 

but down slightly (-1.4%) on 2011 (Figure 1). 

 

While the number of international visitor arrivals has increased the mix of visitors has changed 



significantly (Figure 2). The key trends are; 

 



 

The number of arrivals from Australia, New Zealand’s largest market, continues to grow. 

Australian visitor arrivals increased by 27.9% between 2006 and 2012. 

 



 

The Chinese market has grown by 86.4% over the same period to become New Zealand’s 

second largest source of overseas visitors in 2012. In 2006 China was New Zealand’s 6

th

 



largest market. 

 



 

Visitor arrivals from four of New Zealand’s traditional markets have declined sharply. These 

are; 

 

o



 

United Kingdom -35.7% 

o

 

USA -21.3% 



o

 

Japan -47.2%  



o

 

South Korea -52.5% 



 

 



Arrivals from Germany have increased 7.5% since 2006.  

   


 

 

 

 


 

Figure 1: International visitor arrivals 2003 - 2012 (Source: Statistics New Zealand) 

 

 



Figure 2: Annual visitor arrivals from key markets 2006 – 2012 (Source: Statistics New Zealand) 

 


Length of stay 

The mean length of stay for overseas visitors to New Zealand in 2012 was 19.1 days. The mean figures 

are skewed by long stay visitors (e.g. those on working holidays) however, and the median length of 

stay is a more useful indicator. In 2012 the median length of stay for international visitors was only 9 

days (Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment 2013d). Both the median and mean length of 

stay in 2012 were 1 day lower than in 2010 (Ministry of Economic Development 2011). 

 

Length of stay for different overseas markets varies widely (Table 1). For example the median length 



of stay for Chinese visitors is only four days, while for the United Kingdom it is 20 days (Ministry of 

Business, Innovation & Employment 2013d). These differences and the changing mix of visitors are 

likely to be behind the reduction in average length of stay. This could be caused, for example, by 

there being fewer long stay visitors from the UK, more short stay visitors from China along with a 

tendency for Australian visitors to take shorter trips. 

 

A decrease in length of stay means that visitors will tend not to travel as far from Auckland, the main 



port of entry, and will be less likely to visit areas away from main attractions and tourist routes. 

 

  



Table 1: Length of stay for key markets in 2012 (Source: International Visitor Survey) 

Country 


Mean stay (days) 

Median stay (days) 

Australia 10.5 

China 16.0 



United Kingdom 

29.9 

20 


United States 

18.4 


10 

Japan 18.4 

Germany 50.1 



24 

South Korea 

20.2 



Visitor spending 



In the year to February 2013, spending by international visitors (Figure 3) was 14% below 2008 levels 

(Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment 2013f). In 2012 the average spend by international 

visitors (Table 2) during their trip (excluding international airfares) was $2300 and the median spend 

was $1400 (Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment 2013d).   

 

 


Figure 3: International tourism spending 2008 – 2013 (Source: Regional Tourism Indicators) 

 

  



Table 2: Spending in New Zealand for key markets (Source: International Visitor Survey) 

Country 


Average spend 

Median spend 

Australia $1500 

$1100 


China $3600  $2000 

United Kingdom 

$2700 

$1900 


United States 

$2600 


$1700 

Japan $4100  $2600 

Germany $3200 

$2600 


South Korea 

$3100 


$1800 

Commercial guest nights 

The Commercial Accommodation Monitor (Figure 4) provides another indicator of overall tourism 

activity. Despite the increase in the number of visitor arrivals, commercial guest nights from 

international visitors declined by 10.8% between 2008 and 2012 (Statistics New Zealand 2013). This 

again reflects the shorter stays and changing tourism market. 

 

  



Figure 4: International commercial guest nights 2008 - 2012 (Source: Commercial Accommodation 

Monitor) 

 

International tourism forecasts 

The changes to tourism markets outlined above are forecast to continue in the short to medium term 

according to forecasts released in November 2012 (Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment 2012). 

Total visitor numbers are expected to increase by 28% between 2011 and 2018 but the mix of visitors will 

be different. It is expected that traditional markets such as the United Kingdom and United States will 

continue to decline but this will be offset by strong growth in the Australian and Chinese markets. Visitor 

spending  is  predicted  to  increase  by  9%  and  return  to  pre-global  financial  crisis  levels  by  2018.  The 

average spend per day is expected to remain steady at $112 but the average length of stay for overseas 

visitors is forecast to decline by 15% to 16.9 days. This is due to a shift in the market in favour of short-haul 

trips from Asia and Australia. 

Activities undertaken by international visitors 

Trends in the activities undertaken by international visitors during their visit (Figure 5 & 6) are captured 

in the International Visitor Survey (Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment 2013a). The key 

trends are; 

 



 



Walking and trekking has remained the third most popular activity for overseas visitors behind 

shopping  and  dining.  In  2012  more  than  1.7  million  international  visitors  walked  or  trekked 

during their stay in New Zealand. Participation in this activity by overseas visitors has increased 

strongly since 2008 but fell in 2012 with the decrease in visitors.  

 



 



Demand for a number of more passive experiences offered on public conservation land including 

other scenic / natural attractions and lookouts and viewing platforms have also increased. 

 



 



Land based sightseeing declined sharply between 2006 and 2009. Numbers are growing again 

but are currently 25.9% below their 2005 peak. 



 

 



Interest in volcanic / geothermal attractions is static, while the number of overseas visitors who 

visited cultural and heritage attractions has declined. 

 



 



Interest in cultural attractions has been declining since 2005 while interest in historic attractions 

has also begun to decline.  

 

Figure 5: Annual number of international visitors undertaking selected active outdoor recreation 

activities (Source: International Visitor Survey) 

0

200000



400000

600000


800000

1000000


1200000

1400000


1600000

1800000


2000000

1997


1999

2001


2003

2005


2007

2009


2011

Year



visitor

s

Walking And Trekking

Canoeing, Kayaking,

Rafting


Fishing

Snow Sports

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Figure 6: Annual number of overseas visitors undertaking selected passive recreation activities (Source: 

International Visitor Survey)  

0

200000



400000

600000


800000

1000000


1200000

1400000


1600000

1997


1999

2001


2003

2005


2007

2009


2011

Year



visitor

s

Other Scenic/Natural

Attractions

Sightseeing (Land)

Volcanic/Geothermal

Attractions

Heritage Attractions

Lookouts And Viewing

Platforms

Cultural Attractions

 

Demand for park and nature based activities by overseas market 

Tourism New Zealand’s Visitor Experience Monitor (Tourism New Zealand 2012b-h) tracks participation 

and interest in a wide range of park and non park based activities. Analysis of four activities – tramping / 

hiking, visits to National Parks, scenic bush walks and scenic drives (Figures 7-10) shows that there are 

significant implications for DOC in the changing nature of New Zealand’s overseas tourism markets. 

 

The declining UK and USA markets are ones that have high levels of participation in these four activities. 



While growth is occurring in New Zealand’s two largest tourism markets - Australia and China, these are 

markets  that  have  lower  levels  of  participation.  Over  time  this  will  lead  to  a  visitor  mix  with  lower 

participation levels than is the case currently. Combined with the trend towards shorter stays in New 

Zealand, this could lead to static or decreasing number of international visitors using public conservation 

land. 

 

While there are lower levels of participation among Australian and Chinese visitors it does not appear 



that this is because they necessarily lack interest in the outdoors. Instead there is significant latent 

demand i.e, interest that is not flowing through into actual participation. There is an opportunity to grow 

the number of Australian and Chinese visitors using public conservation land if their needs and barriers 

to participation are understood and if the right opportunities are provided in the right places. 

 

 

 



Figure 7: Demand for tramping / hiking by overseas market (Source: Visitor Experience Monitor 

2011/12) 

15

22



35

38

17



80

15

44



52

29

36



62

15

40



41

26

36



21

45

0



25

50

75



100

Australia

China

United Kingdom



USA

Japan


Germany

South Korea



Country of origin

% of

 vi

s

ito

rs

Interested & participated

Interested but did not participate

Were not interested

 

Figure 8: Demand for visits to national parks by overseas market (Source: Visitor Experience 



Monitor 2011/12)

27

38



52

51

28



77

30

61



50

37

48



66

22

63



12

12

11



6

7

0



25

50

75



100

Australia

China

United Kingdom



USA

Japan


Germany

South Korea



Country of origin

% of

 vi

s

ito

rs

Interested & participated

Interested but did not participate

Were not interested

 


 

 

Figure 9: Demand for scenic bush walks by overseas market (Source: Visitor Experience Monitor 

2011/12) 

25

26



34

30

15



65

40

56



61

50

48



63

31

52



19

13

16



22

8

0



25

50

75



100

Australia

China

United Kingdom



USA

Japan


Germany

South Korea



Country of origin

% of

 vi

s

ito

rs

Interested & participated

Interested but did not participate

Were not interested

 

 

Figure 10: Demand for scenic drives by overseas market (Source: Visitor Experience Monitor 2011/12) 

43

26



61

66

28



34

38

49



57

30

30



65

36

53



8

17

9



7

9

0



25

50

75



100

Australia

China

United Kingdom



USA

Japan


Germany

South Korea



Country of origin

% of

 vi

s

ito

rs

Interested & participated

Interested but did not participate

Were not interested

 


One obvious barrier is length of stay. As indicated above, the median length of stay in New Zealand is 

only 4 days for Chinese visitors and 7 days for Australians. This compares with 20 days for British visitors 

and 10 days for those from the USA (Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment 2013d). Investment 

in opportunities that are easily accessible from Auckland and that offer short, instant immersion 

experiences in the natural environment are likely to be more successful than some of the traditional 

opportunities that DOC provides. 



Domestic tourism trends 

The following section summarises available information on domestic tourism trends. Information is 

provided on the percentage of New Zealanders taking holidays within the country along with trends in 

spending and commercial guest nights from domestic visitors. The Domestic Travel Survey is used to 

show the significance of various outdoor activities to domestic tourism. 

 

The data suggests that commercial guest nights are increasing after a number of years of decline. 



However, visitor spend is only marginally above 2008 levels and fewer New Zealanders overall are taking 

holidays within New Zealand. The Domestic Travel Survey shows that walking or trekking, land based 

sightseeing and other scenic / natural attractions were each included in more than 4.7 million trips in 2011 

(Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment 2013b). Each of these information sources is discussed 

in more detail below. 

Commercial guest nights 

The Commercial Accommodation Monitor (Figure 11) shows that the total number of domestic guest 

nights across New Zealand increased slightly from 18,823,409 in 2008 to 19,251,820 in 2012. This was 

an increase of 2.3% (Statistics New Zealand 2013). 



 

Figure 11: Domestic guest nights 2008 – 2012 (Source: Commercial Accommodation Monitor) 

 

Spending 

According to the Regional Tourism Indicators (RTI), spending by domestic tourists is increasing 

after reaching a low point in June 2009 (Figure 12). Spending in the year to January 2013 was 10% 

above 2008 levels (MBIE 2013e). 

 


Figure 12: Domestic tourism spending 2008 – 2013 (Source: Regional Tourism Indicators) 

  

Number of trips  

The Domestic Travel Survey (DTS) records the number and characteristics of trips undertaken by 

New Zealanders. Unlike the International Visitor Survey discussed earlier, long term trend data is not 

available as the DTS was revised in September 2009 and new data is not comparable with older data. 

Recent  data  (Table  3)  shows  an  increase  in  tourism between 2010 and 2011 (Ministry of Business, 

Innovation & Employment 2013b). 

 

 



Table 3: Total number of domestic trips 2010 – 2011 (Source: Domestic Travel Survey) 

 2010 


2011 

change 



Total day trips 

28,204,988 

32,386,682 

14.8% 


Total overnight trips 

15,872,307 

17,680,867 

11.4% 


Total trips 

44,077,295 

50,067,549 

13.6% 


   

Percentage of New Zealanders taking domestic holidays 

Information on New Zealanders’ domestic tourism behaviour is also available from ongoing surveys 

carried out by Roy Morgan Research (Figure 13). This information shows that  the  percentage  of  New 

Zealanders taking holidays within New Zealand has been declining since 2006 (Roy Morgan Research 

2012). 

 


Figure 13: Percentage of New Zealanders taking holiday trips in New Zealand 2005 - 2011(Source: Roy 

Morgan Single Source Database) 

 

Activities undertaken by domestic visitors 

Information on activities undertaken by New Zealanders’ on trips within New Zealand is available from 

the Domestic Travel Survey (Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment 2013a). Walking and 

trekking was the most popular activity under taken by New Zealanders. This is supported by other 

information sources such as the Active New Zealand and Roy Morgan Surveys which are discussed later 

in this report. New Zealanders made more than 4.7 million domestic trips involving walking and trekking 

in 2012. Swimming, fishing and sightseeing were also popular activities (Tables 4 & 5).   



 

 

Table 4: Number of trips by New Zealanders involving selected active recreation activities (Source: 

Domestic Travel Survey) 

Activity 2010 

2011 



change 



Walking and trekking 

4,751,928 

4,739,845 

-0.3 


Swimming 1,850,169  1,908,711 

+3.2 


Fishing 1,726,771 1,536,556 -11.0 

Hunting/shooting 350,802 

470,597 

+34.1 


Snow sports 

315,473 


345,992 

+9.7 


 

 

 



 

 


 

Table 5: Number of trips by New Zealanders involving selected passive recreation activities (Source: 

Domestic Travel Survey) 

Activity 2010 

2011 



change 



Sightseeing (land) 

5,018,337 

4,872,718 

-2.9 


Other scenic/natural 

attractions 4,383,647  4,511,105 

+2.9 

Volcanic/geothermal 



attractions 819,931 

964,406 


+17.6 

Lookouts and viewing 

platforms 101,748 

148,734 


+46.2 

Heritage attractions 

189,086 

146,384 


-22.6 

Tourism in the Tongariro Whanganui Taranaki 

This section of the report discusses tourism activity at the local and regional level. Data from the 

Commercial Accommodation Monitor shows that New Zealanders are responsible for the majority of 

tourism activity in Tongariro Whanganui Taranaki. Within the region, domestic tourism is focussed on 

Taupō and Taranaki while the smaller international market is centred around the Taupō and Ruapehu 

areas. International and domestic tourism have both declined in the Tongariro Whanganui Taranaki 

region since 2008, but there are different trends operating in different sub-regions. International tourism 

has actually increased in Taupō and Taranaki, against the regional and national trend, although spending 

by international visitors has declined across the region. 

Commercial guest nights 

The Tongariro Whanganui Taranaki region is predominantly a domestic holiday destination. In 2012 

domestic visitors accounted for 73% of guest nights in the region while 27% were from international 

visitors (Statistics New Zealand 2013). The Taupō Regional Tourism Organisation (RTO) area received 

the largest share of domestic guest nights with 42% while one third of domestic guest nights were in 

Taranaki. The Whanganui RTO area received less than 10% of the region’s domestic guest nights (Figure 

14). 

 

Figure 14: Share of domestic guest nights by RTO (Source: Commercial Accommodation Monitor 2012) 

 

 


The Taupō RTO area (55%) received more than half of all international guest nights in the Tongariro 

Whanganui Taranaki region in 2012 while a quarter were received by the Ruapehu RTO area. Taranaki is 

a much less significant area for international tourism compared to domestic and received only 14% of the 

region’s international guest nights. The Whanganui RTO area received only 6% (Figure 15). 



 

Figure 15: Share of international guest nights by RTO (Source: Commercial Accommodation Monitor 

2012) 

 

 



The four Regional Tourism Organisation areas within Tongariro Whanganui Taranaki Conservancy 

together received 2,054,151 guest nights in 2012. This represented approximately 6% of New Zealand’s 

total guest nights (Statistics New Zealand 2013). Information on the percentage of overseas tourists 

visiting the region shows a slightly higher level of activity. According to the Visitor Experience Monitor 

(Tourism New Zealand 2012a), 9% of international tourists visited the Taranaki area in 2011/12 while 14% 

visited the combined Manawatu – Whanganui area. The percentage who visited the Taupō and Ruapehu 

areas was not clear as these were combined into other regions.  

 

Total commercial guest nights in the region were down 3.3% on 2008 (Figure 16 & 17) and on the 



surface this appears to closely reflect the national trend over the same period (-3.2%). Analysis by 

market (domestic or international) and at the individual RTO level shows a more complex picture 

(Statistics New Zealand 2013). Overall the region has been relatively insulated from the decrease in 

international tourism experienced nationally but, in contrast to the national trend, domestic tourism 

has declined. The key changes were; 

 



 

Domestic guest nights have decreased by 4.3% in the Tongariro Whanganui Taranaki region 

despite a small increase nationally. This was largely driven by a 9.3% decrease in the Taupō 

RTO area.  

 



 



International guest nights increased by 6.1% in Taupō and 5.6% in Taranaki. 

 

 



A 12% decrease in international guest nights in the Ruapehu RTO was largely offset by 

increased domestic guest nights. 

 



 



Guest nights in Whanganui fell by 14.1% with large decreases in both the international and 

domestic markets. 

 

Further information at the individual RTO level is provided in Figures 18 – 21. 



 

Figure 16: Annual guest nights for Taupō, Taranaki, Ruapehu and Whanganui RTOs 2008 - 2012 

     (Source: Commercial Accommodation Monitor) 

 

 

 

Figure 17: Percentage change in annual guest nights 2008 - 2012  

    (Source: Commercial Accommodation Monitor) 

 

 



Figure 18: Taupō RTO annual guest nights 2008 - 2012 (Source: Commercial Accommodation Monitor) 

0

200000



400000

600000


800000

1000000


2008

2009


2010

2011


2012

Year

# G

u

est

 n

ig

h

ts

Domestic


International

Total


 

 

 



Figure 19: Taranaki RTO annual guest nights 2008 - 2012 (Source: Commercial Accommodation 

Monitor) 

0

200000



400000

600000


800000

1000000


2008

2009


2010

2011


2012

Year

#

 G

ue

s



night

s

Domestic


International

Total


 

 


Figure 20: Ruapehu RTO annual guest nights 2008 – 2012 (Source: Commercial Accommodation 

Monitor) 

0

200000



400000

600000


800000

1000000


2008

2009


2010

2011


2012

Year

# G

u

est

 n

ig

h

ts

Domestic


International

Total


 

 

 



Figure 21: Whanganui RTO annual guest nights 2008 - 2012 (Source: Commercial Accommodation 

Monitor) 

0

200000



400000

600000


800000

1000000


2008

2009


2010

2011


2012

Year

# G

u

es

t n

ig

h

ts

Domestic


International

Total


 

Country of origin and spending by international visitors 

Official tourism statistics no longer include information on the number of overseas tourists visiting 

particular areas of New Zealand. Instead the Regional Tourism Indicator collects information on the 

number and value of electronic transactions. These are analysed by country to indicate size of the 

international market in each region (Table 6 & &). The Regional Tourism Indicator data shows that; 

 


 

Australia is the largest international market in  all  four  RTO  areas.  Spending  by  Australian 



visitors has increased in all RTO areas in the region since 2008.  

 



 

Tourism in the Tongariro Whanganui Taranaki region is vulnerable to the decline in numbers 

from the UK and USA being experienced nationally.  

 

o



 

Spending by UK visitors decreased in all four RTO areas by between 22% and 41%. 

o

 

Spending by American visitors has dropped sharply in Taupō (-30%) and Whanganui (-



22%). However, there were small increases in spending both Ruapehu and Taranaki. 

 



 

Spending by Chinese visitors has increased substantially in two RTO regions but the overall 

level of activity from this market is still very small. Other markets including Canada and a 

number of European countries are currently larger markets for the Tongariro Whanganui 

Taranaki region. 

 



 

Overall spending by international tourists since 2008 is down 16% in Taupō, down 15% in 

Whanganui and down 6% in the Ruapehu.. Spending increased by 6% in Taranaki. 

  

 



Table 6: Percentage of international tourist transactions from key markets by RTO 2012 (Source: 

Regional Tourism Indicators) 

 Australia 

China 

UK 


USA 

Japan 


Germany 

South 


Korea 

Total 


transactions 

Taupō 32.1% 

0.7% 

17.6% 


12.6% 

1.2% 


7.3% 0.4% 

219,443 


Ruapehu 26.7%  0.4% 14.4% 

11.6% 


0.8% 11.9%  0.4%  52,601 

Taranaki 45.8%  0.4% 14.4% 

10.2% 

0.7% 5.0%  0.2%  112,254 



Whanganui 

42.9%  1.0% 15.0% 

9.6% 

1.0% 7.9%  0.3%  32,282 



 

  

Table 7: Change in average monthly visitor spend from key markets by RTO between 2008 & 2012 

(Source: Regional Tourism Indicators) 

 Australia 

China 

UK 


USA 

Japan 


Germany 

South 


Korea 

Overall 


change 

Taupō +15% 

+176% 

-43% 


-30% 

+4% 


-12% -7% -16% 

Ruapehu +4%  No 

data 

-37% +1%  -33%  -4% 



-36% 

-6% 


Taranaki +32%  +60% 

-22% 


+6% 

+52% -7% 

No 

data 


+6% 

Whanganui +31% 

No 

data 


-41% -22% -65%  -31% 

No 


data  -15% 

 

 



 

 

 

Use of public conservation land in Tongariro 

Whanganui Taranaki Conservancy 

The Department of Conservation manages a number of significant visitor sites in the Tongariro 

Whanganui Taranaki region. Limited visitor count data is available from the Department’s booking 

system and network of visitor counters. However there is little long term data available. This data is 

discussed by area below.  



Taupō 

The Department manages a large number of popular sites in the Taupō area including Huka Falls, walks 

along the Waikato and Tongariro Rivers, the Tokaanu Thermal Walk and the Tongariro National Trout 

Centre. It also manages the Taupō fishery which is a significant driver of tourism in the area.  

Long term monitoring data is only available for the Taupō Fishery and two of the region’s tracks - the 

Lake Rotopounamu and Round the Mountain Tracks. Counting has recently been established at a 

number of other locations however. Because of the limited amount of data it is not possible to assess the 

long term trends in use of public conservation land in the area or to compare this with official tourism 

statistics. The available data is summarised below. 

 



 

The track between Spa Road and Huka Falls is the busiest monitored site in the Taupō area. It 

received more than 25,000 visitors in 2012. This was down 10.5% on the previous year. 

 



 

Three other tracks in the vicinity of Taupō are monitored. 

o

 

The Kawakawa Bay Track was enjoyed by 6896 visitors in 2012 (up 24.6%). More than 



three quarters of visitors on this track were riding bikes. 

o

 



A single year of data for the Rangatira Point shows that 3090 people visited in 2012. 

o

 



18,732 hits were recorded on the W2K counter in 2012, an increase of 27.6%. This track is 

managed by Bike Taupō and more than 80% of visitors to the track are bikers.  

 



 



Total Taupō  fishing licence sales decreased from 54,086 to 41,363 (-23.5%), between the 2007/08 

and 2011/12 seasons continuing a general downward trend in licence sales over the past 24 years, 

since sales peaked at over 82,000 in the 1987/88 season. 

  



 

Numbers on the Lake Rotopounamu Track, near Turangi, peaked in 2010 but overall increased 

13.4% between 2008 and 2012. The annual number of visitors rose from 9067 to 10279 (Figure 22).  

 



 

More than 20,000 hits were recorded on the Tongariro River Walkway track counter. There was 

an increase of 0.9% between 2011 and 2012. 

 


 

Counters are also installed on two tracks in the Kaimanawa Forest Park.  



 

o

 



Hits on the Tree Trunk Gorge Track counter increased from 2471 to 2522 (+2.1%)  

o

 



Hits on the Umukarikari Track increased 11.4% from 1273 to 1418. 

 



 

Use of the Round the Mountain tramping track has declined by 21% since 2008 (Figure 23).  



 

Figure 22: Annual visitor numbers: Lake Rotopounamu Loop Track 

9067


10695

12231


11244

10279


0

2000


4000

6000


8000

10000


12000

14000


2008

2009


2010

2011


2012

Year

# V

is

it

o

rs

 


 

Figure 23: Annual counter activity: Round the Mountain Track 

1239


1008

1022


932

979


0

200


400

600


800

1000


1200

1400


2008

2009


2010

2011


2012

Year

C

o

un

ter

 a

c

tivity

 

Taranaki 

DOC manages a number of sites accessed from road ends on Mt Taranaki. Popular sites include Stratford 

Plateau, North and East Egmont, Dawson Falls and Lucys Gully. DOC also manages a number of lower 

profile sites in the wider Taranaki Area. Long term trend data for sites in Taranaki does not show an 

overall trend across the area. The data is as follows: 

 



 



North Egmont Visitor Centre is the most popular monitored site in Taranaki. It received 72,481 

visitors in 2012 which was up from 69,260 in 2011 (+4.7%). In contrast the number of visitors on the 

North Egmont Nature Walk dropped 12.2% between 2008 and 2011 from 7784 to 6838 (Figure 24). 

Other tracks at the North Egmont Road End are not monitored. 

 



 



There is also significant visitor use at Dawson Falls on the South Eastern side of Mt Taranaki 

(Figure 25). 

 

o

 



The Kapuni Loop Track received 35,459 visitors in 2012 which was a decrease of 16.1% 

from the previous year.  

o

 

37,993 visitors used the Dawson Falls Visitor Centre. This was up 3.6% on the number of 



visitors in 2010. 

o

 



The Ridge Loop Track was monitored between 2006 and 2011. Use of the track declined 

by 24.6% over this period from 3722 down to 2805 visitors.  

 


 

Use of the Manganui Gorge Track on the eastern side Mt Taranaki has trended downward in 



recent seasons but there was a sharp increase in 2011/12. Numbers in 2011/12 were 5.2% above 

2006/07 levels. The wheelchair accessible Potaema Track is also monitored but caters for fewer 

than 1000 visitors annually (Figure 26). 

 



 

Four other visitor counters are located around Mt Taranaki. Two tramping tracks on the western 

side of Mt Taranaki (the Ihaia and Oanui Tracks) both receive fewer than 600 visitors per year. 

Use of the Pouakai Circuit, in the north, is unclear as visitor flows are more complex. Activity on 

one section - the Ahukawakawa Track increased 24% between 2009 and 2012. A smaller increase 

of 6.1% was recorded on the Henry  Peak – Kaiauai Track between 2008 and 2011 (Figure 27).   

 



 



Counters are also installed at three other sites in the wider Taranaki area.  

 

o



 

Visitor activity at the Ratapihipihi Scenic Reserve Track (Figure 28) has declined 

sharply. There were 4404 hits on the visitor counter in 2012 compared to 6612 in 2009 (-

33.4%).  

o

 

A single year of activity data is available for the Whitecliffs Walkway for 2011/12. 1403 



hits were recorded on the counter. 

o

 



Two years of visitor counts are available for the Arahake Bush Loop Walk. Visitor 

numbers declined from 1490 in 2010 to 1203 in 2011. A drop of 19.3%. 

 

 


Figure 24:Annual visitor numbers: North Egmont Visitor Centre & Nature Walk 

7784


5130

5801


6838

69260


72481

0

10000



20000

30000


40000

50000


60000

70000


80000

2008


2009

2010


2011

Year

# v

isit

o

rs

North Egmont Nature Walk

North Egmont Visitor Centre

 

 

Figure 25: Annual visitor numbers: Dawson Falls Visitor Centre, Kapuni and Ridge Loop Tracks 

36671


36419

37993


42285

35459


3722

4223


2483

2125


2805

0

5000



10000

15000


20000

25000


30000

35000


40000

45000


2006

2007


2008

2009


2010

2011


2012

Year

# Vis

it

o

rs

Dawson Falls Visitor Centre

Kapuni Loop Track

Ridge Loop Track



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 26: Annual visitor numbers: Manganui Gorge & Potaema Tracks 

5462


6688

5027


2834

5745


854

763


846

0

1000



2000

3000


4000

5000


6000

7000


8000

2007/08


2008/09

2009/10


2010/11

2011/12


Season

# V

is

it

o

rs

Manganui Gorge Track

Potaema Track

Figure 27: Annual counter activity: Pouakai Circuit

1497


2327

2288


1857

1172


1004

1312


1244

0

500



1000

1500


2000

2500


2008

2009


2010

2011


2012

Ahukawakawa Track

Henry Peak  - Kaiauau Track

 


Figure 28: Annual counter activity: Ratapihipihi Scenic Reserve Track 

6612


7007

6816


4404

0

1000



2000

3000


4000

5000


6000

7000


8000

2009


2010

2011


2012

Year

C

o

u

n

te

r act

ivit

y

 

Ruapehu 

Popular DOC sites in the Ruapehu area include the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, Tongariro Northern 

Circuit, the Whakapapa Visitor Centre, local walks around Whakapapa Village and the Ohakune Old 

Coach Road. Visitor numbers at three sites around the Central Plateau (Taranaki Falls, Tongariro Alpine 

Crossing and Tongariro Northern Circuit) peaked in 2010 but have shown an upward trend over the last 

5-6 years. This contrasts with a relatively static tourism trend for the Ruapehu area overall. Numbers at the 

Whakapapa Visitor Centre followed the downward trend in international tourism in the region.  Trends 

for specific sites are as follows: 

 



 

The number of visitors using the Whakapapa Visitor Centre declined 17.5% between 2002 and 

2010 (Figure 29). 

 



 

Use of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing peaked in 2010 (Figure 30). Usage is estimated at 70-

80,000 visitors per year but the track counters only approximate the scale of use. This is because 

some visitors do short return trips from either end of the track and cross the appropriate counter 

twice. Prior to the recent eruption most visitors carried on to the Ketatahi Road End and crossed 

both counters only once.  

 



 



Use of the Tongariro Northern Circuit Great Walk (Figure 31) has increased 14.1% from 4950 in 

the 2006/07 season to 5649 in 2011/12. This increase was driven by a 46.2% increase in domestic 

visitors. International use declined by 3.9% over this period. Use of the track has dropped slightly 

from its peak of 5882 visitors in the 2010/11 season. 

 


 

The number of visitors using the Taranaki Falls Track, near Whakapapa Village, peaked at 46,630 



in 2010 but dropped to 39520 in 2012. This is still 13.8% above 2006 levels (Figure 32). A single 

year of data is also available for the Tama Lakes Track. It received 7489 visitors in 2012. 

 



 



Use of the Ohakune Old Coach Road increased 13.9% from 12991 in 2010/11 to 14803 in 2011/12. 

 

Figure 29: Annual visitor numbers: Whakapapa Visitor Centre 

237330


236392

252317


221071

220172


212654

227307


206316

201949


0

50000


100000

150000


200000

250000


300000

2002


2003

2004


2005

2006


2007

2008


2009

2010


Year

# V

is

it

o

rs

 

 

Figure 30: Annual counter activity: Tongariro Alpine Crossing 

83589


55686

75132


91380

73889


80046

57811


59678

68064


79985

77354


59993

0

10000



20000

30000


40000

50000


60000

70000


80000

90000


100000

2007


2008

2009


2010

2011


2012

Year

C

o

un

te

r a

c

ti

v

ity

Mangatepopo

Ketetahi

  


 

Figure 31: Annual visitor numbers: Tongariro Northern Circuit 

4950


5060

5580


5185

5882


5649

3168


3289

3348


3225

3335


3043

1782


1771

2232


1960

2547


2606

0

1000



2000

3000


4000

5000


6000

7000


2006/07

2007/08


2008/09

2009/10


2010/11

2011/12


Season

# V

is

it

o

rs

Total


International

Domestic


 

 

Figure 32: Annual visitor numbers: Taranaki Falls Track 

34728


32900

34829


46630

41929


39520

0

5000



10000

15000


20000

25000


30000

35000


40000

45000


50000

2006


2007

2008


2009

2010


2011

2012


# visitors

Ye

ar

 

Whanganui 

There are only a handful of popular DOC managed sites in the Whanganui area and the available data for 

these sites is very limited. While tourism has declined significantly in Whanganui, use of two high profile 



sites – the Whanganui River Journey and the Bridge to Nowhere Walk, has not followed this trend (Figure 

33). These sites are accessed from Ohakune and domestic tourism has actually grown in this part of the 

region.  Trends for specific sites are as follows: 

 



 

The number of visitors on the Whanganui River Journey (a canoe trip within the Department’s 

Great Walk brand) increased 25% between 2006/07 and 2011/12. It now receives approximately 

5500 visitors. Over this period the number of New Zealanders doing the trip increased by 43.5% 

while international visitors decreased 1.7%. 

 



 

Use of the Bridge to Nowhere Walk increased only slightly (1%) between the 2009/10 and 2011/12 

seasons. It received 14,190 visits in 2011/12. 

 



 

Activity at Gordon Park Scenic Reserve, near Whanganui dropped 8.3% between the 2009/10 and 

2010/11 seasons. 5438 hits on the counter were recorded in 2010/11. 

 



 

A newly established visitor counter on the Mangapurua Track recorded 1983 hits on the counter 

in 2012 but complex visitor flows make it difficult to convert this into an estimated visitor count. 

Three other locations in the Whanganui area (Atene Viewpoint Walk, Te Maire Loop Track and 

an additional site at Mangapurua) have track counters but they each receive fewer than 1000 

visitors per year. 

 

Figure 33: Annual visitor numbers: Bridge to Nowhere & Whanganui River Journey 

14051


14085

14190


4407

4034


5507

0

2000



4000

6000


8000

10000


12000

14000


16000

2006/07


2007/08

2008/09


2009/10

2010/11


2011/12

Season

# v

isi

to

rs

Bridge to Nowhere Walk

Whanganui River Journey

 


Trends in New Zealanders’ use of the outdoors 

This section examines trends in New Zealanders’ participation in various outdoor recreation activities. 

Available information shows that walking is the most popular activity for New Zealanders both on and off 

public conservation land. However there is no information on whether its popularity is increasing or 

decreasing. In contrast, interest in tramping and hunting appears to be on the rise while participation in 

freshwater fishing is static or declining. There is no long term data that supports the popular perception 

that mountain biking is increasing in popularity. Information at regional levels is relatively limited and in 

some cases contradictory. However residents of Tongariro Whanganui Taranaki are more likely to visit 

public conservation land than New Zealanders as a whole. The available data on participation in outdoor 

recreation is summarised below. 



Data sources 

There are two main sources of trend information for outdoor recreation activities at national level; the 

Active New Zealand Survey (Sport NZ 2013) and the Roy Morgan Single Source Database (Roy Morgan 

Research 2012). The Roy Morgan Single Source Database (referred to as the Roy Morgan Survey) is likely 

to be the more reliable of the two data sources due to its scale (approximately 12,000 surveys per year), 

consistency of method, frequency and the fact that it is more up to date (it covers the period from 2002-

2011). On the other hand it may under estimate participation levels as the available data only tracks the 

number of people who define themselves as “regular” participants.  

 

The Active New Zealand Survey was conducted by Sport and Recreation New Zealand (now Sport NZ). It 



was last conducted in 2007/08 and will run for the fifth time in 2013. Unlike the Roy Morgan Survey, 

Active New Zealand counts a respondent as a participant if they engaged in an activity at least once in a 

12 month period. This results in higher participation levels in the Active New Zealand Survey compared 

to the Roy Morgan. Higher participation levels may also occur because the methodology of using face to 

face interviews in people’s homes is more conducive to gathering detailed information on participation 

than the self completion surveys used by Roy Morgan.  

 

Data from previous Active New Zealand surveys was summarised in an earlier internal DOC report 



(Rundle 2009) and this report highlighted some deficiencies with the trend data (which Sport NZ do not 

themselves publish). The specific issues identified were that definitions of different activities have not 

been consistent across the four iterations of the survey. Also the surveys have not used consistent age 

categories. The 1997, 1999 and 2001 surveys captured respondents aged 18 years and over, while  the most 

recent interviewed those aged 16 years and over.  

 

Two other surveys also provide useful data. The Domestic Travel Survey provides information about 



attractions visited and the activities undertaken by New Zealanders while on holiday. Data from the DTS 

is only available for two full years (2010 and 2011) and activities undertaken within 40 km of a 

respondent’s home (i.e. local recreation) are generally excluded. This data has already been summarised 

in an earlier section of this report. 

 


The National Survey of New Zealanders, now in its second year, provides an indication of the popularity 

of  various  recreation  activities  on  public  conservation  land.  It  asks  respondents  to  indicate  the  main 

activity undertaken on their most recent visit to a DOC managed area. There a number of other surveys 

providing information relevant to specific activities such as camping, hunting and fishing. These reports 

are introduced alongside the discussion of individual activities below.  

 

The strengths and weaknesses of both surveys should be considered when using the information 



reported below. Other data sources used include DOC’s national survey of New Zealanders (Premium 

Research 2012), the Domestic Travel Survey and a number of surveys that are relevant to single activities.  




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