Air New Zealand’s search for The Great Walker is being run in association with New Zealand’s Department of Conservation (DOC) and will see four global winners take on New Zealand’s premier DOC tracks; Abel Tasman Coast, Heaphy, Kepler, Lake Waikaremoana, Milford, Rakiura, Routeburn, Tongariro and Whanganui Journey.

The Great Walks span 550km of spectacular New Zealand terrain from alpine peaks to glacial valleys, native bush, rainforests and golden beaches.

Every year about 75,000 people from across New Zealand and around the world enjoy these internationally renowned wilderness experiences - each of which takes between three and five days to complete.

Both DOC and Air New Zealand are delighted to be able to share these tourism treasures with an even wider audience through this online competition which challenges keen walkers, trekkers and hikers to get creative and demonstrate why they believe they deserve to win a place on this wild adventure by uploading either a short YouTube video or a Pinterest board of inspiring images.

The four winners begin their journey at the southern most point of the country with the first of the nine Great Walks - Rakiura Track on Stewart Island - and then make their way north conquering one track each week for nine weeks.  As well as undertaking the Great Walks the winners will also enjoy other Kiwi outdoor experiences including local wildlife encounters and adventure activities such as mountain biking, canyoning and jet boating.

The group will be joined along the way by Air New Zealand and DOC staff and celebrity guests. Each winner will share their journey with the world via regular blog updates.

Air New Zealand Head of Sponsorship and Community James Gibson describes the trip as a once in a lifetime experience. “New Zealand is internationally renowned for its stunning scenery and we’re thrilled to be able to offer people the chance to come and see it for themselves.  Whether someone is a nature lover, has a curiosity for the great outdoors or fancies themselves as the next Bear Grylls, we want to hear from them,” says Gibson.

DOC Director Commercial Business Unit Dave Wilks says: “We are looking for Great Walkers with the total package - people with personality, creativity, a knack for blogging and story telling as well as a passion for outdoor adventure.

“Our national parks are picturesque and sometimes wild and rugged. Entrants should be agile and have a moderate level of fitness to enjoy the variety of terrain the New Zealand wilderness offers,” says Wilks.

The competition follows the recent announcement of Air New Zealand’s three year commercial partnership with DOC. In addition to promoting the Great Walks, the partnership sees Air New Zealand provide support for new conservation programmes around the National Parks Great Walks network and help moving endangered species around the country via its domestic network.

Entries for the Great Walker are now open at www.greatwalkernz.com until Monday 22 October, 2012. Entrants will then be shortlisted on the website and four winners chosen as judged by an official judging panel and by the public through the website. The Great Walkers will then travel to New Zealand in February 2013 to complete the epic Kiwi adventure of a lifetime.

For further competition details and to apply, visit www.greatwalkernz.com

For information on DOC’s nine Great Walks, visit www.greatwalks.co.nz.

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Issued by Air New Zealand Public Affairs ph +64 21 747 320