Top 10 Guest Photos 2015
Photo competitions. They're not necessarily a good thing for an organisation like us to run, because there can only ever be one winner, and we leave hundreds of other people disappointed. But we can't help ourselves, can we? That’s because it's just too damn hard to take bad photos on our trips and we're naturally compelled to share them with everyone. And what's life without friendly competition amongst family and peers?!
But rather than showcase just the one winner, here's the top 10, in no particular order, all taken by you guys on our trips in 2015. What a year it was!
We'll tell you who the winner is also – don't worry.
1. Aoraki Mt Cook & Lake Pukaki, 'Rimu' – Allen Cameron
This is a scene our guides never tire of seeing, no matter how many times they visit the Aoraki Mount Cook National Park. There's always the butterflies that flutter in your stomach as this landscape greets you. As you get closer, the waters of Lake Pukaki become more radiant and the slopes of Aoraki Mount Cook and the surrounding hills become more dramatic. After passing Lake Pukaki you'll delve deeper into the National Park and get the chance to hike onto Mueller Ridge, where you'll experience the most mind blowing mountain views in New Zealand.
2. Hiking Siberia Valley, 'Tui' – Bob Secor
You step out of the aircraft that has just dropped you into arguably New Zealand's most isolated and dramatic wilderness area, and there's just one way out from there; on foot. The plane takes off again and you realise it's just you, your fellow hikers and the native birds accompanying you through this area of untouched beauty. Not a bad way to spend a couple of days. Well... technically you'll get to take a jet boat ride down the Wilkin River as well, so it's not just hiking!
3. Sand Boarding Te Pouahi Reserve, 'Kauri' – Bonnie Mullin
Sometimes it's important to just be a kid again. And what better way than taking an old body board (not intended for anything other than use on the water, but hey – it's fun!) and sliding down a huge sand dune and getting completely covered in sand? It can't all be too civilised can it?
4. Swimming with a Turtle, 'Tortuga' – Charlotte Sherman
If you don't swim or at least see a turtle when you join us on our 'Tortuga' trip in the Galapagos Islands, then there will certainly be something wrong with the space/time continuum and we'll have to look into getting into another business. Here's the reason why we called the trip the 'Tortuga' - they're everywhere and you never get sick of seeing them, especially in crystal clear water!
5. House on the Svelte, Patagonia, 'Condor' – Dennis Wilson
Patagonia has many faces, yes there's the enormous granite peaks and glaciers of Torres Del Paine and Glaciares National Park, fiords and picture perfect lakes. There's also the windswept plains dotted with grazing cattle and traditional "Gaucho" farm houses (now with solar power!). You find yourself wondering if you've stepped into a time machine.
6. Immaculate Forest Walk, Nelson Lakes National Park, 'Rimu' – Donal Rafferty
Can you see the hobbit in the trees in this shot? Well, there is no hobbit but you'll be forgiven for expecting some sort of ancient creature to walk across the trail as you're hiking in Nelson Lakes National Park. So no hobbits here, but you'll probably be greeted by a South Island Robin – one of our most inquisitive native birds. They often peck at the ground you've walked on as they know your hiking boots may have opened up some soil for worms!
7. Machu Picchu Selfie, 'Jaguar' - Jen Risser
Check out how happy Jen Risser is, after hiking for 3 days on the Inca Trail to get to Machu Picchu. We arrive at Machu Picchu super early in the morning before the sun comes up and get ahead of the numerous people who visit the site every day, but when the sun does come out, it shines directly down on the site all day – it's an incredibly refreshing place to be. The other thing we've noticed about this photo is that it's a reminder of how much of a big job it'd be to mow those lawns, just look at em!
8. Milford Sound Kayaking, 'Rimu' - Jim Lane
Believe it or not, photos like this are EXTREMELY rare. Not because it has captured a truly perfect moment in time for Jim and his son Ben Lane, in the world's most spectacular fiord, but because it's captured a person in a double sea kayak who isn't engaged in an argument with their fellow paddler... For that reason, this photo is our winner! Who needs flat horizons anyway...
9. Blue Duck in Repose, 'Manuka' - Joyce Barbour
Our native Whio (Blue Duck) are known here in New Zealand as the "whitewater duck", as when they're spotted, they are often seen riding the rapids in our streams and rivers. They are also extremely rare. Contrary to how it appears in this photo, they do actually have heads, and two legs.
10. Hiking Amongst Giants, 'AST' - Marjorie Pilli
Almost there! In this shot, you're only about 30 minutes from arriving at the Annapurna Sanctuary – a spectacular alpine amphitheatre that has to be seen to be believed. That's our guide DK in the picture, pointing out the surrounding peaks but clearly not holding the attention of the other guy in the photo. It's OK – we're working on his presentation skills... :-)
Rimu Ultimate South Island Adventure
- 14 Days
- South Island
- From US$5499 + tax
This is our signature adventure and a great, outdoorsy way to see New Zealand. We’ve been fine-tuning this perennial favourite since 1996 and it’s simply an awesome trip. You’ll explore the most beautiful, famous and little-known places in the South Island – up close and personal – with legendary hospitality and our unsurpassed attention to detail. For a great way to see the North Island too, combine this trip with our 11-day 'Kauri' (5-day 'Kauri' options available).
Activity level: The ‘Rimu’ is one of our more adventurous trips, but has options to suit a wide range of ages and outdoor experience. Typically, hikes on the ‘Rimu’ trip range between two and five hours to complete, with longer hikes available on the multi-day option. If you think you’d prefer a more relaxed pace and shorter one to three hour hikes, we recommend checking out our ‘Kiwi’ trip. Please get in touch with us if you’d like to chat about the various options.
Tui Essence of the South Island
- 8 Days
- South Island
- From US$3999 + tax
This is an action-packed adventure where you’ll explore some of New Zealand’s most iconic and remote wilderness. It works well if your vacation time is limited, since you can fly from North America on a Friday evening, sleep on the plane, and be back at work ten days later to share your photos and stories on Monday morning. For a great way to see the North Island too, combine this trip with our 11-day 'Kauri' (5-day 'Kauri' options available).
Activity level: The ‘Tui’ suits people of a wide range of fitness levels and outdoor experience, particularly if you enjoy a variety of activities. Typically hikes on the ‘Tui’ trip range between two and six hours to complete.
Kauri Ultimate North Island Adventure
- 11 Days
- North Island
- From US$4899 + tax
You'll be amazed by the variety of adventures and stunning scenery as we share the iconic locations and best-kept secrets of the North Island. The perfect addition to any of our South Island trips, the year-round 'Kauri' explores the sub-tropical north, a marine reserve, white sandy beaches, unique volcanic terrain, geothermal areas, Maori culture, an underground cave system and arguably the best mountain day-hike in New Zealand. For a great way to see the rest of New Zealand, combine this trip with any of our South Island trips.
Activity level: The 'Kauri' suits people of a wide range of fitness levels and outdoor experience. Typically, activities on the 'Kauri' trip range between two and five hours to complete. The Tongariro Alpine Crossing hike can take a little longer, though there are shorter alternatives available.
Tortuga Galapagos Land and Sea Adventure
- 10 Days
- Galapagos And Ecuador
- From US$4999
The 'Tortuga' is a fantastic way to discover several of the Galapagos Islands, especially for landlubbers. In a relaxed and active manner, you’ll snorkel, dive, hike and cycle, and cruise between the multitude of stunning islands in our comfortable dive boat, the ‘Pacific’ while staying on dry land each night. Starting with a short flight to San Cristobal Island, highlights of this incredible trip include snorkelling with turtles, rays and tame reef sharks, kayaking in a beautiful calm bay and hiking up an island volcano with one of the largest active calderas in the world. You’ll get up close to some of the most intriguing and docile wildlife on the planet, with visits to tortoise breeding grounds and iguana colonies, and even sharing the beach with inquisitive sea lions. We explore amazing lava tunnels, cycle through local townships and learn the mysterious history of Floreana Island.
Condor Patagonia Hiking Adventure
- 14 Days
Southern Patagonia, for hikers in particular, is always near the top of the bucket list. Immense craggy mountain ranges erupt straight up from colossal boulder fields, vast rivers of ice calve into deep blue lakes, and its intricate coastline is strewn with uncharted fiords and inlets. It’s the type of scenery that leaves an indelible impression in your memory – one that photos will never quite manage to replicate. On the ‘Condor’, you’ll visit some of the most amazing places on Earth, by foot, kayak, bike and boat. You’ll enjoy incredible views as you hike in the Fitz Roy area of Argentina, trek in Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park, bike near Laguna del Desierto and sea kayak amongst icebergs on Grey Lake. If you have a passion for the outdoors, then the ‘Condor’ is the trip for you! Combine the 'Condor' with the 14-day 'Puma' for the ultimate Patagonia Adventure (8-day option available).
Jaguar Ultimate Peru Adventure
- 10 Days
The ‘Jaguar’ is our most action-packed multi-activity trip in Peru. It captures everything this beautiful country has to offer, from the towering peaks of the Andes down to the steamy depths of the Amazon jungle. You’ll have a blast in this land of geographical and cultural extremes! We start our trip in the heart of the Inca empire where we explore fortresses and surrounding valleys, hike over stunning mountain passes to Machu Picchu, cycle into the Sacred Valley of the Incas and view Amazon wildlife up close. The variety of activities and landscapes on this trip will give you a Peruvian adventure like no other – and an experience you’ll never forget!
For a great way to see Lake Titicaca and the Bolivian salt flats too, combine this trip with our Titicaca and Bolivia 'Chinchilla' - chat to our team to learn how!
Manuka Milford Hiking Adventure
- 14 Days
- South Island
- From US$6399 + tax
If you wish to concentrate on hiking the iconic tracks of New Zealand and like your creature comforts, we’ve crafted this trip just for you. It has a strong focus on New Zealand’s natural history. Our guides have plenty of time to interpret the flora and fauna and explain the geological and social history of the areas you’ll visit. You also have the choice of a selection of the best day hikes Fiordland National Park has to offer, along with an overnight cruise on Doubtful Sound, or hiking the famous Milford Track in its entirety. The ‘Manuka’ really is hiking New Zealand in style!
Activity level: The 'Manuka' is an active hiking trip, but has options to suit a wide range of fitness levels and outdoor experience. Typically hikes on the 'Manuka' trip range between three and six hours to complete, with longer hikes on the Milford Track Guided Walk option.
AST Annapurna Sanctuary Trek
- 14 Days
Experience one of the greatest treks on the planet on a two-week adventure to the famed Annapurna Sanctuary. This amphitheatre is made up of three Annapurna mountains (South, I and III), Gangapurna and Machapuchare (Fish Tail), with the famous Annapurna Circuit trail winding its way through the valley beneath these mountains. We’ll start our trip by exploring the temples and markets of Kathmandu, Nepal’s bustling capital city, before flying to the lakeside city of Pokhara at the foot of the Himalayas.
Our journey will take us deep into the Himalayas, hiking up the glacial Modi Khola River gorge, passing through tiny Gurung settlements and into an alpine area that will take your breath away. You’ll be accompanied by an Active trip leader who will meet you in Kathmandu and introduce you to your Nepalese team of guides and porters. In true Active style you’ll stay in local accommodation, which in Nepal means rooms in comfortable and cosy Gurung tea houses (small hotels), and enjoy hearty meals to top it all off.