2009 Best Adventure Travel Companies On Earth

National Geographic Adventure Online

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For the second time in as many years, we've conducted an unprecedented survey of adventure travel companies, based on the idea that a traveller's most important decision is not always where to go but who to go with. For the 2009 edition, we spoke to more guide services—and their clients—than ever before.

Active Adventures New Zealand overall score: 89.80 

New Zealand's most popular destinations get special treatment by this outfitter. While most tourists see Milford Sound from the deck of a cruise ship, Active Adventures New Zealand clients navigate sea kayaks among the fjord's seals and dolphins. And whereas the majority of visitors to Mount Cook catch just a quick glimpse of New Zealand's highest peak, Active Adventures New Zealand groups stay for two nights at a high-country sheep farm overlooking Mount Cook. Then they spend a full day hiking in Mount Cook National Park. The lodging is eclectic, from mountain huts to an apartment in Queenstown.

Ultimate South Island Adventure 'Rimu'; hiking, sea kayaking, biking; 14 days

Rating Criteria Scores
Overall: 89.80
Quality of service: 92.00
Sustainability: 83.50
Spirit of adventure: 94.50
Education: 89.00
Client satisfaction: 90.00

Trip Reviews

  •   4.39 out of 5 (from 1251 reviews)

    Perfect

    The trip was impressive and our guides, Jo and Andy, are awesome!
    Frank Chung Review Image
    – , Singapore
    Kauri, December 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 5051 reviews)

    Outstanding Trip!!

    This trip was especially great because of our guides, Ben and Emma. I cannot say enough good things about those two. They were extremely patient, energetic, and very sincere.
    The trip has a wide variety of activities that allowed us to see and experience most of the South Island, keeping us away from the more congested tourist hangouts. I really felt like we saw the true South Island and not just the tourist trap attractions.
    The only reason I have not given it a 5 star rating is because my wife and I are very active and do very challenging trips that most people would never want to take on. It was not a trip of a lifetime for me only because of that. Take "trip of a lifetime" away from the 5 stars and just have excellent and I would mark that. Excellent trip!!!!
    Dave Mastolier Review Image
    – Alaska, United States
    Rimu, December 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 5051 reviews)

    New Zealand is Majestic...Thanks Active Adventures!

    This was my first trip traveling alone and traveling overseas. Active Adventures made this trip amazing and so easy. From initial planning of trip, to the moment of pick up at the airport, until drop off at the end of the adventure all details were taken care of. The guides (Amanda and Joe) were fabulous and the prepared meals were fantastic. New Zealand is truly beautiful. Thanks for sharing your country, can't wait to go back!
    Jennifer Smith Review Image
    – Arizona, United States
    Rimu, December 2017
  •   4.55 out of 5 (from 1033 reviews)

    Perfect Patagonia

    Had a wonderful time on the Condor trip with Cynthia. The trip was well planned and we traveled with such great folks. Couldn't have been better. Cynthia even arranged for great weather!
    Sarah Gray Review Image
    – Colorado, United States
    Condor, December 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 5051 reviews)

    Trip of a Lifetime!

    This was such an amazing trip! Our guides Ash and Astrid did a fantastic job. Everyday was met with amazing views and challenging activities like kayaking, biking and hiking. Two weeks felt like a month because we did so much in one day but there was still some down time to enjoy the beauty that is New Zealand. A must for anyone who wants to be active in New Zealand.
    Kilo Piedra Review Image
    – California, United States
    Rimu, March 2018

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Why travel with Active Adventures?

Above all, we aim to be amazing hosts. We're proud of our kiwi roots, and our professional, warm and relaxed style of running trips around the world is unforgettable.

We're VERY picky about who we select to work in our team, and we have people from all over the world lining up to guide our trips. So we get to hire the absolute BEST in the business.

As soon as you get off the plane, we've got all the details of your vacation covered – top notch meals, comfortable transport & accommodation, amazing guides and INCREDIBLE service.

Whether you’re new to adventure travel, or you’ve never travelled in a group before, you’ll find yourself arriving home positively different from when you left.

With our small groups (no more than 14), you'll get to know our team, your fellow travellers, and have the flexibility and freedom to do as much (or as little!) as you like.

It's all about getting there under your own steam – on foot, in a sea kayak, or by bike. What better way is there to experience mind blowing scenery? If it's your first time, no worries – our expert guides have got you covered.

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