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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

  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 15867 reviews)

    5 day Kauri Trip

    Tongariro Alpine Crossing was the best hike of my life!
    Grace Zheng Review Image
    – Hawaii, United States
    Kauri, January 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 15867 reviews)

    Great trip!

    We had a smart, funny, and skilled guide who showed us beautiful and amazing things. Peru was incredible, it was a great trip.
    Kevin O'Brien Review Image
    – Washington, United States
    Jaguar 2017, August 2016
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 15867 reviews)

    No regrets! Accomplish the impossible!

    I can't begin to describe my Rimu experience, from the amazing guides, Ken and Elder, to my fellow travelers and the detail that Active Adventures puts into everything we did. I was able to scale and climb those mountains and ridges that I laughed off as impossible, see the most amazing untouched scenery, completely decompress and completely check out from my daily life. If you want to see the south island the way it was meant to be seen, you're open to being active everyday with the conveniences for yourself taken care of, take this trip!
    Pam Lin Review Image
    – California, United States
    Rimu, January 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 15867 reviews)

    Outstanding Adventure with the Best Guide Ever!

    The Tortuga trip was phenomenal. From the moment I arrived, my every need was met and all with grace and professionalism. The trip was well planned, we saw and did so many things, from adventures like hiking and biking, snorkeling and kayaking, to learning all about the Galapagos in a way a book will never tell you. What brought everything off the pages of a book, and from the land in front of us was the knowledge and the passion of our guide Pablo. What a treasure he is! He could answer anything, and it was all shared with enthusiasm, passion, caring, love for this land. I felt so honored to have had him as our guide. Thank you! The food was outstanding, the accommodations perfect. I could not fault a single thing!
    Laurie Kelley Review Image
    – Massachusetts, United States
    Tortuga, December 2016
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 15867 reviews)

    Best Ever!

    Trip of a Lifetime for sure! I’m still on a NZ High :-D))
    Thanks to Nick B & Melissa for their knowlegde & Expertise experience, which made our trip successful & FUN! With their encouragement, I was able to challenge myself & push beyond what I thought my abilities were.......THANK YOU!!! Such a pleasure getting to know Nick & Mel, we were spoiled & enjoyed every minute of this adventure with them. Highly recommend Active Adventures NZ making dreams come TRUE!
    Wendy Woods Review Image
    – Montana, United States
    Tui, 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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