Twenty years after they were established, the Great Walks are grossly underutilised - except for the Milford Track.
Visitor statistics show that the Milford, Kepler and Routeburn tracks are more than half full, with the Abel Tasman 44% full and the huts on the rest occupied less than one night in three.
The Department of Conservation wants more New Zealanders to enjoy the experience the Great Walks provide.
But marketing manager Robyn Cormack said there is another, more pragmatic, reason. New Zealand taxpayers have invested in the Great Walks and the tracks need to return more revenue for that investment.