• Fiordland NP. Erico Marcelino/Unsplash
    Fiordland NP. Erico Marcelino/Unsplash

In news across The Ditch, tourism operators say there's an appetite for international visitors to pay to access the country's national parks to help cover costs.

NZ's Department of Conservation (DOC) is facing major financial challenges and said it could not afford to maintain its assets which were under increasing pressure from visitor congestion.

Officials have told Conservation Minister Tama Potaka he should consider more user charges and raising existing fees - which he has not ruled out.

Potaka said the Department of Conservation had a lot of responsibilities and not enough money to cover them.

"It receives about 0.44 - under 0.5 of a percent of all government funding to look after 30 percent of the whenua in this country. It's not an easy job, but they do their very best," he told Radio NZ.

User pays was not new and was already in place for huts and Great Walks, he said.

"The notion of user pays or maybe charging for some things is absolutely necessary to look at, to consider and then we'll come back with options and obviously work with other Ministers across Cabinet to make a decision on behalf of government."

Visit Ruapehu GM Jo Kennedy told RNZ raising the international visitor levy or charging Australians the levy were other options, but a user pay system also had merits.

"People want to give back but there's nowhere to give back. They walk through this incredible landscape and they finish it and they're buzzing and they expect to pay, so I would say never say never," she said.

For more info on NZ's Great Walks click here.

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