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Why Joining a Small Group Tour is the Bee's Knees

I better start by explaining the term ‘Bee’s knees’… I’ve been doing a bit of reading (and getting a bit distracted!) and apparently in the 1920’s it was fashionable to use nonsense terms to describe something that was all-round awesome, think ‘the snake’s hips’, ‘the kipper’s knickers’, ‘the cat’s whiskers’, ‘the monkey’s eyebrows’ and so on. Of these, the bee’s knees and the cat’s whiskers are the only ones to have stood the test of time!

So anyway, I think you’re getting the picture. Of course, it’s natural for us to tell you why joining a small group tour is such a great idea, it’s what we do for a living! But I want to give you a personal perspective and share with you a quote from our travellers.

Prior to joining the Active family, I spent some years travelling around the world snowboarding, surfing and hiking – generally having a great old time. Like many Kiwis, having thoroughly explored my own backyard, I felt that I needed to experience new cultures and develop my own view on the world. On the one hand, growing up in New Zealand is a huge privilege – having such wonderful nature on your doorstep and being exposed to a pretty relaxed way of life, and on the other hand, you do feel a bit disconnected from all those exciting, colourful and vibrant things happening around the globe! Whilst travelling I tended to do it all independently, through trial and error – and this worked fine – I had time and youth on my side!

So to cut a long story short, by the time I started working at Active Adventures, I really had never experienced a group tour. I guess I ticked enough other boxes to land the job, or maybe it was just luck! So in the back of my mind I thought, well here’s a company that takes folk to incredible places, under their own steam, and get’s raving reviews – reviews that you read and get warm fuzzies over day in, day out. So at the time I thought, maybe I’m not a ‘group tour guy’, but I want to work here anyway! Four years on and my perspective has changed and I seriously do drink the Kool-aid. One of the many perks of working for Active is that you get to go out and experience the trips that we run, it’s essential really. And each time I join one of our small groups, I’m reminded and convinced that joining a group of like-minded travellers is the Bee’s knees.

kayaking lake mapourika

Kayaking on Lake Mapourika near Franz Josef


Why you should consider joining a small group tour:

You get to meet people from around the world. It’s obvious, I know, but there’s nothing better than sitting around the backcountry hut log burner and sharing stories from different world-perspectives.

stan nepal locals

Meeting the locals on the Annapurna Sanctuary Trek

People you’d never normally meet. If you came to New Zealand and hired a campervan you might meet some really cool people, but you won’t share in the daily rituals, the home cooked meals and the hikes together, the things that create lasting friendships and make the everyday much more fun!

group machu picchu celebrate

A group of adventurers celebrating their achievement of reaching Machu Picchu

Group dynamics are crazy, complex and brilliant. I often speak to the guides to try to get a sense for what drives them to do what they do. One of the common motivators is the roulette factor. That excitement on day 1 of a 14-day tour, when you get to meet a dozen new faces full of optimism and excitement for their vacation and that satisfaction as you watch and help a group bond and become friends.

guides liana and simon routeburn

Guides Liana and Simon enjoying the sunshine on the Routeburn Track

Our guides are extraordinarily good at bringing people together. Sure it can happen naturally, but often it takes a touch of magic from our guides. I can’t give too much away, but it’s the little things that count.

sunset angelus hut group

All smiles after a full day hiking up to Angelus Hut, Nelson Lakes National Park

Sharing challenges, laughs and sunsets together is the fast-track to life-long friendship. We often get groups who met each other on one of our trips and then plan future Active trips together. That’s cool! When you hike to Angelus Hut in the Nelson Lakes National Park, with a group of people you only met two days ago, you experience something together that nobody else can quite understand. As a group, you overcame the challenges, saw the same views and shared the same jokes. Every experience has a context and that context is shared among your small group of adventurers!

Clearly there are hundreds of small group adventure tour operators out there, so if you’re already sold on the group tour idea, you’re faced with the daunting prospect of choosing a tour operator. Hopefully you’ve already heard about us through word of mouth, so you don’t even need to read the rest, but if you’re new to Active Adventures, then read on!

silhouette jump braemar group

Final night of the 'Rimu' trip celebrations at Braemar Station near Aoraki/Mt Cook


A couple of things to watch out for...

The size of the group. ‘Small group tour’ is a subjective term! On our New Zealand and South America trips we have a maximum of 14 guests, and our average is around 12. In the Himalayas we run our trips with a maximum of 10 on the Everest Base Camp Trek and 12 on the Annapurna Sanctuary, Mustang and Khumbu Treks.

The guide to client ratio. In New Zealand we have two guides on each trip, unless there are 5 or less people, in which case there would be one guide, but that doesn’t happen often. In South America we have a trip leader and then local guides for each activity. In the Himalayas we have a Kiwi trip leader and a team of local porters and guides for the trek.


Tui March 2018 - Amazing trip!

“This was the trip of a lifetime! I saw so many beautiful sites, enjoyed the company of a great group of people, and had the opportunity to experience some things I never thought I would. Everyone at Active Adventures did a wonderful job of making sure questions were answered and all details were sorted. Liana and Simon were excellent guides who made sure everything we needed was taken care of while at the same time being fun, knowledgeable and enthusiastic about everything New Zealand had to offer!”
Michigan, United States
Tui, April 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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