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Explore New Zealand's South Island

South Island Hiking Trips & Adventure Tours

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South Island Hiking Adventure Tours v3

Discover unparalleled natural beauty under your own steam on a New Zealand's South Island adventure tour that will leave you changed.

The South Island of New Zealand hardly needs an introduction - its reputation as an outdoor lover's paradise ensures its presence on many people's bucket lists. On our South Island hiking adventure, we'll explore famous glaciers such as Franz Josef and Hooker Glacier, guide you on the best bits of our Great Walks, cruise or kayak the world-famous Milford Sound, venture into lesser-known backcountry that only locals know about and cycle some incredibly scenic trails such as the Alps 2 Ocean Trail. You'll have plenty of time to contemplate the scenery and relax in our carefully picked lodgings, and your guides will make sure you get fed in proper Kiwi fashion with freshly cooked meals. Come hike, bike and kayak in some of our favourite spots on the South Island, or opt for a more relaxed adventure - just take your pick!

Hear from our Happy Guests
4.85/5 Rating | 6,500+ Reviews

What Our Guests Say

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Classic South Island Adventure - February 2024

Greatly Exceeded Expectations!

"This trip was outstanding! I cannot think of a single thing that could have been better. I loved our guides. They were delightful and showed personal care for each one of us. They made every single moment of the trip fun.
Unfortunately I injured my ankle early on and the guides were able to accommodate me and help me continue safely with the activities.

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"This trip was outstanding! I cannot think of a single thing that could have been… read more

"This trip was outstanding! I cannot think of a single thing that could have been better. I loved our guides. They were delightful and showed personal care for each one of us. They made every single moment of the trip fun.
Unfortunately I injured my ankle early on and the guides were able to accommodate me and help me continue safely with the activities. read less

5 Stars (529 reviews)

A Andrea | February 2024

Great Walks of New Zealand - February 2024

Our guides

"Ashley and Alisha were amazing. We were very lucky to have only 6 in our party of the same relative ages.

They looked after our every need.

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"Ashley and Alisha were amazing. We were very lucky to have only 6 in our… read more

"Ashley and Alisha were amazing. We were very lucky to have only 6 in our party of the same relative ages.

They looked after our every need. read less

5 Stars (27 reviews)

L Lynn | February 2024

New Zealand Walking Adventure - February 2024

New Zealand South Island - we saw it all!

"Our trip with Active to see the South Island of New Zealand was amazing in every way. From the excellent guides, gorgeous hikes, beautiful views, delicious meals, story time, to the fitting sound track on the bus - perhaps the best trip I have been on so far. Can’t wait to go on and Active Adventure again.

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"Our trip with Active to see the South Island of New Zealand was amazing in… read more

"Our trip with Active to see the South Island of New Zealand was amazing in every way. From the excellent guides, gorgeous hikes, beautiful views, delicious meals, story time, to the fitting sound track on the bus - perhaps the best trip I have been on so far. Can’t wait to go on and Active Adventure again. read less

5 Stars (230 reviews)

J Julie | February 2024

New Zealand Family Vacation - January 2024

Amazing family trip

"This trip was a fantastic way to experience the South Island with our kids. The format was really kid friendly - a little bit of driving each day, broken up by a physical activity. The pacing was perfect - it kept us with enough energy to enjoy all the activities to the fullest. We loved the variety of activities and seeing all the topography and ecosystems. The lodging was clean, comfortable, in good condition, and just the right size for our family of 5. We really loved all the local foods, especially the desserts. Our guide, Mel, was the BEST. Within a few days, she felt like a member of our family. She took the experience to the next level, bringing energy, knowledge, and a lot of fun to the trip. Her cooking was inspiring - we have picky kids, and they gobbled everything up. She was great with our kids and gave each one of them individual attention. Two weeks was the perfect length to get a good sample of the South Island. We asked the kids to describe the trip, and they said: awesome, fun, relaxing, exciting, and best trip ever!

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"This trip was a fantastic way to experience the South Island with our kids. The… read more

"This trip was a fantastic way to experience the South Island with our kids. The format was really kid friendly - a little bit of driving each day, broken up by a physical activity. The pacing was perfect - it kept us with enough energy to enjoy all the activities to the fullest. We loved the variety of activities and seeing all the topography and ecosystems. The lodging was clean, comfortable, in good condition, and just the right size for our family of 5. We really loved all the local foods, especially the desserts. Our guide, Mel, was the BEST. Within a few days, she felt like a member of our family. She took the experience to the next level, bringing energy, knowledge, and a lot of fun to the trip. Her cooking was inspiring - we have picky kids, and they gobbled everything up. She was great with our kids and gave each one of them individual attention. Two weeks was the perfect length to get a good sample of the South Island. We asked the kids to describe the trip, and they said: awesome, fun, relaxing, exciting, and best trip ever! read less

5 Stars (32 reviews)

P Paige | January 2024

New Zealand Biking Adventure - January 2024

John Winters

"A most excellent adventure! Blessed with excellent weather, extremely competent and fun guides, and a wonderfully varied itinerary of hiking and biking, this trip is a bucket trip must.

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"A most excellent adventure! Blessed with excellent weather, extremely competent and fun guides,… read more

"A most excellent adventure! Blessed with excellent weather, extremely competent and fun guides, and a wonderfully varied itinerary of hiking and biking, this trip is a bucket trip must. read less

5 Stars (59 reviews)

J John | January 2024

Classic South Island Adventure - January 2024

New Zealand South Island Class Tour

"This was our first active type tour and we are SO glad we chose Active Adventures! Everyday was memorable, well-planned, active fun. We feel like we hit all the highlights of the South Island. At the end of the day we often said, "Wow that was the best day! That was probably the highlight, only to be followed by another amazing day that was even better." We loved everything and we definitely plan to do another Active Adventures tour!!

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"This was our first active type tour and we are SO glad we chose Active… read more

"This was our first active type tour and we are SO glad we chose Active Adventures! Everyday was memorable, well-planned, active fun. We feel like we hit all the highlights of the South Island. At the end of the day we often said, "Wow that was the best day! That was probably the highlight, only to be followed by another amazing day that was even better." We loved everything and we definitely plan to do another Active Adventures tour!! read less

5 Stars (529 reviews)

K Kimber | January 2024

New Zealand Biking Adventure - January 2024

Outstanding tour company

"Active Adventures is an outstanding tour company. Every single thing is done professionally. The routes we rode were stunning. The guides were so helpful, kind and fun. It couldnt have been a better experience.

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"Active Adventures is an outstanding tour company. Every single thing is done professionally. The routes… read more

"Active Adventures is an outstanding tour company. Every single thing is done professionally. The routes we rode were stunning. The guides were so helpful, kind and fun. It couldnt have been a better experience. read less

5 Stars (59 reviews)

R Robin | January 2024

New Zealand Biking Adventure - January 2024

Carole

"We were a small group of 5 with 2 guides very attentive.. It was easy and joyful. The itinerary that already met my expectations was respected. An organization…wow!…accomodation, food, transport, bike…! During this journey, every day was filled with delight!

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"We were a small group of 5 with 2 guides very attentive.. It was… read more

"We were a small group of 5 with 2 guides very attentive.. It was easy and joyful. The itinerary that already met my expectations was respected. An organization…wow!…accomodation, food, transport, bike…! During this journey, every day was filled with delight! read less

5 Stars (59 reviews)

C Carole | January 2024

Ultimate South Island Adventure - January 2024

Anonymous

"I would strongly recommend this company for the New Zealand (south island) tour!! Two weeks might seem as though it's a long time, but it was so packed with activities, it flew by! Diverse events, consideration of fitness levels and ability, consideration of nutritional needs, etc. were all taken into account while planning each day. The initial communication when setting up the trip to leading up to the final days before the trip, the staff was available to answer questions. I will use them again for future trips!

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"I would strongly recommend this company for the New Zealand (south island) tour!! Two… read more

"I would strongly recommend this company for the New Zealand (south island) tour!! Two weeks might seem as though it's a long time, but it was so packed with activities, it flew by! Diverse events, consideration of fitness levels and ability, consideration of nutritional needs, etc. were all taken into account while planning each day. The initial communication when setting up the trip to leading up to the final days before the trip, the staff was available to answer questions. I will use them again for future trips! read less

5 Stars (906 reviews)

N Nancy | January 2024

Ultimate South Island Adventure - January 2024

Beth from Georgia, U.S.A.

"The entire 14-day experience was incredible from start to finish. Our guides, Liana and Kelly, were superb! Their professionalism, knowledge, experience, meal preparation, hike selections, music playlist, mythical stories, and friendliness made for a memorable adventure. Their love for New Zealand was palpable and generated much excitement within our group. Experiencing New Zealand through them was a gift I will cherish for years. While our safety was their number one priority, they ensured we got the most out of every activity. I would hike with Liana and Kelly and Active Adventures again!

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"The entire 14-day experience was incredible from start to finish. Our guides, Liana and… read more

"The entire 14-day experience was incredible from start to finish. Our guides, Liana and Kelly, were superb! Their professionalism, knowledge, experience, meal preparation, hike selections, music playlist, mythical stories, and friendliness made for a memorable adventure. Their love for New Zealand was palpable and generated much excitement within our group. Experiencing New Zealand through them was a gift I will cherish for years. While our safety was their number one priority, they ensured we got the most out of every activity. I would hike with Liana and Kelly and Active Adventures again! read less

5 Stars (906 reviews)

E Elizabeth | January 2024

Ultimate South Island Adventure - January 2024

Fantastic trip !

"What a great way to see the best that the South Island of New Zealand has to offer! Everything about the trip was great, from the itinerary itself to the excellent staff. This was one of our best ever holidays- totally full-on, so not for the lazy or beach lovers, but it packed so many great experiences into 2 weeks. Highly recommended.

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"What a great way to see the best that the South Island of New Zealand… read more

"What a great way to see the best that the South Island of New Zealand has to offer! Everything about the trip was great, from the itinerary itself to the excellent staff. This was one of our best ever holidays- totally full-on, so not for the lazy or beach lovers, but it packed so many great experiences into 2 weeks. Highly recommended. read less

5 Stars (906 reviews)

A Adam | January 2024

Classic South Island Adventure - January 2024

South Island Adventure

"Our 8 days with Active Adventure was more than we could have imagined. Our guides were Holly and Noah. Holly was a fantastic driver, storyteller and organizer. Noah was our chef. He created delicious breakfasts, snacks, picnic’s and suppers. Not only can he cook, he can hike mountains with ease and educate us on the flora. Our tour guides were companionate and adaptable for each one of us on the team. My husband was unable to participate do to illness. They made him feel apart of the group and also respected his need to lay low. Highly recommend Active Adventures.

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"Our 8 days with Active Adventure was more than we could have imagined. Our guides… read more

"Our 8 days with Active Adventure was more than we could have imagined. Our guides were Holly and Noah. Holly was a fantastic driver, storyteller and organizer. Noah was our chef. He created delicious breakfasts, snacks, picnic’s and suppers. Not only can he cook, he can hike mountains with ease and educate us on the flora. Our tour guides were companionate and adaptable for each one of us on the team. My husband was unable to participate do to illness. They made him feel apart of the group and also respected his need to lay low. Highly recommend Active Adventures. read less

5 Stars (529 reviews)

D Danette | January 2024

Classic South Island Adventure - January 2024

Fantastic trip, in spite of the weather

"Holly and Noah were nothing short of amazing. They were great. When the weather cancelled two of our events, the alternatives they came up with were GREAT. Holly's stories on the bus rides were really enlightening and entertaining. We learned a bit about the history, Maori culture, and the geography. Noah was also a great source of information, especially out on the trail. Noah should be a chef. The meals were superb. The boat ride in the fiord on the last full day was truly outstanding (again, in spite of some intermittent cold and rain).

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"Holly and Noah were nothing short of amazing. They were great. When the weather… read more

"Holly and Noah were nothing short of amazing. They were great. When the weather cancelled two of our events, the alternatives they came up with were GREAT. Holly's stories on the bus rides were really enlightening and entertaining. We learned a bit about the history, Maori culture, and the geography. Noah was also a great source of information, especially out on the trail. Noah should be a chef. The meals were superb. The boat ride in the fiord on the last full day was truly outstanding (again, in spite of some intermittent cold and rain). read less

5 Stars (529 reviews)

J Jesse | January 2024

New Zealand Walking Adventure - January 2024

NZ Walking Adventures exceeded expectations

"After examining trips from competing companies I selected this trip and was very pleased with my choice. The itinerary provided lots of information with hike profiles (distance and climb) being very important. At home I generally hike 6 mile trails as I find that 3 hours on the trail provides an optimum combination of exercise and scenery. The hikes provided on this itinerary provided great scenery without being overly strenuous.

I can't say enough about the quality of our two guides. We have taken a number of small group tours with very good guides. But these two raised the bar in terms of guide quality. Elize's main task was driving and she did a great job. She was also great to have as a guide during our hikes. Max's main tasks were as chef and guide. I was really impressed with the teamwork that they displayed during all aspects of the trip.

I was a bit concerned about having meals prepared by the staff but Max did a great job. His dinners were always creative, beautifully plated with great attention to detail. He also did a good job with breakfasts…

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"After examining trips from competing companies I selected this trip and was very pleased with… read more

"After examining trips from competing companies I selected this trip and was very pleased with my choice. The itinerary provided lots of information with hike profiles (distance and climb) being very important. At home I generally hike 6 mile trails as I find that 3 hours on the trail provides an optimum combination of exercise and scenery. The hikes provided on this itinerary provided great scenery without being overly strenuous.

I can't say enough about the quality of our two guides. We have taken a number of small group tours with very good guides. But these two raised the bar in terms of guide quality. Elize's main task was driving and she did a great job. She was also great to have as a guide during our hikes. Max's main tasks were as chef and guide. I was really impressed with the teamwork that they displayed during all aspects of the trip.

I was a bit concerned about having meals prepared by the staff but Max did a great job. His dinners were always creative, beautifully plated with great attention to detail. He also did a good job with breakfasts and packed lunches. One key advantage of home cooked meals is that they are BYO, the meal can be augmented with wine from a local supermarket or wine store. On those days where we had restaurant meals, the restaurants selected were very good with nice selections. It appeared that vegetarians were well taken care of.

During the trip I developed some congestion that impacted my stamina. While hiking, I tended to lag the group a bit. Both guides provided just the right amount of concern and encouragement to keep me going.

The itinerary was excellent. It provided a variety of experiences including hiking in different environments, kayaking, wine tasting and general great scenery. We were able to hike portions of 4 of the 10 Great Walks. The boat ride in Milford Sound was amazing, helped along by rainfall earlier in the week that fed a large number of waterfalls. Having a free day in Queenstown allowed us to select activities that were of interest to us. read less

5 Stars (230 reviews)

R Robert | January 2024

New Zealand Walking Adventure - January 2024

Great Tour!!!

"I highly recommend the 14 day Active Adventures tour of the South Island of New Zealand. We had two amazing tour guides, Elize and Max. They went above and beyond to make this tour exceptional! Their energy and enthusiasm were astounding. This country is extraordinarily beautiful and our guides added to the magic by taking every opportunity to highlight its unique features. The activity level was just as described, and perfect for me and my traveling companion. We had a great variety of activities including hiking, kayaking, swimming, shopping, taking boat rides and visiting wineries.

I really enjoyed the small group configuration of this tour. We had many delicious "family meals" provided by Max, an outstanding cook, interspersed with lovely meals in restaurants and cafes. Again, Elize and Max made these gathering special with their kindness and attention to detail. I truly felt pampered on this tour. The small group size allowed us to all get to know each other. We had a delightful group of people on this trip, which really added to the fun. Every day was a different adventure with wonderful surprises along the way.

I am very grateful…

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"I highly recommend the 14 day Active Adventures tour of the South Island of New… read more

"I highly recommend the 14 day Active Adventures tour of the South Island of New Zealand. We had two amazing tour guides, Elize and Max. They went above and beyond to make this tour exceptional! Their energy and enthusiasm were astounding. This country is extraordinarily beautiful and our guides added to the magic by taking every opportunity to highlight its unique features. The activity level was just as described, and perfect for me and my traveling companion. We had a great variety of activities including hiking, kayaking, swimming, shopping, taking boat rides and visiting wineries.

I really enjoyed the small group configuration of this tour. We had many delicious "family meals" provided by Max, an outstanding cook, interspersed with lovely meals in restaurants and cafes. Again, Elize and Max made these gathering special with their kindness and attention to detail. I truly felt pampered on this tour. The small group size allowed us to all get to know each other. We had a delightful group of people on this trip, which really added to the fun. Every day was a different adventure with wonderful surprises along the way.

I am very grateful to Elize and Max for making this such a special experience. Active Adventures is clearly dedicated to finding high quality staff to make their tours so wonderful. The pacing was great and the locations we visited were really spectacular. I especially loved visiting the Pancake Rocks in Punakaiki and the many hikes we had in tropical and coastal settings.

This tour exceeded my expectations in every way! Thank you, Elize and Max!

Rita Navatka


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5 Stars (230 reviews)

R Rita | January 2024

New Zealand Walking Adventure - January 2024

"Overall a great experience I will always remember. It was faster paced than I would have done on my own, but the end result was that I saw more and experienced things and places that I would have otherwise missed. The trip was greatly enhanced by our two wonderful guides.

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"Overall a great experience I will always remember. It was faster paced than I… read more

"Overall a great experience I will always remember. It was faster paced than I would have done on my own, but the end result was that I saw more and experienced things and places that I would have otherwise missed. The trip was greatly enhanced by our two wonderful guides. read less

5 Stars (230 reviews)

B Beverly | January 2024

Active Adventures Home

Hiking New Zealand’s South Island

New Zealand's South Island is a hiking paradise. Boasting beautiful beaches, dramatic alpine wilderness and pristine native forests, hiking trails in these varied landscapes offer a range of easily accessible hikes. Along the backbone of the South Island are the spectacular Southern Alps, a mountain range of incredible natural beauty and home to several Great Walks. With over 15,000km of coastline, there are several hiking trails alongside pristine beaches. The South Island offers truly spectacular options in various landscapes and a range of hikes to suit all fitness levels.

The 'Great Walks' are well-maintained hiking trails that rank as some of the very best in the world, and in most cases need to be booked months in advance. The Milford Track, which can be walked in full on our Milford Track Adventure, is the most famous of these in New Zealand. Hiking this trail is a life-changing experience with the most stunning views, incredible alpine scenery, beautifully designed lodges, and a post-card moment at every turn. At the top of the South Island is the exquisite Abel Tasman Track; imagine hiking on pristine golden sand beaches, alongside clear blue waters, and through gorgeous New Zealand native trees that grow down to the shore. On the west of the island is the beautiful Heaphy Track, and to the south lies the mighty Kepler Track near Lake Te Anau and the ever-popular Routeburn Track (both trails can be sampled on most of our South Island trips) - a two-night hike near the beautiful resort township of Queenstown.

South Island Hiking Adventure Tours

Great Walks and lesser-know trails: mix it up!

There are over five hundred incredible hiking trails in the South Island, of which 10 of the most popular (including the Milford Track) have been developed into 'Great Walks'. These 'Great Walks' have impressive backcountry facilities, are very popular, and hiking passes have to be booked months ahead of time - and often sell out the day they get released.

Unfortunately, most visitors to New Zealand don't realize there are hundreds of other trails taking you to cozy backcountry huts, in equally stunning surroundings, with slightly more rustic amenities, but without the crowds. We believe these lesser-known trails, such as the Angelus Circuit, are the best way to experience a true New Zealand wilderness experience.

 

New Zealand From Our Guests' Perspective

Earlybird Explorer Offer tile

Save 10% When You Book Early

Dreaming of an epic adventure, but haven't quite taken the next step? Now is the time! Take advantage of our Earlybird Explorers offer, and enjoy 10% off* ANY of our trips. (*T&Cs apply, please see below.)

This limited-time offer ensures you are on the path to advance your adventure plans, and turn your travel dream into a reality. Until February 29, 2024, secure your booking with only a 50% deposit, and receive a 10% discount off the trip price.

If you'd like to learn more, or need any help finding your next adventure, get in touch with our dedicated customer service team. Be an Earlybird Explorer, catch your next adventure, and start counting down to the trip of a lifetime!

 

Terms & Conditions

Take 10% off the trip price when you book a trip and pay a 50% deposit by February 29, 2024. By opting for this payment plan, your 50% deposit is non-refundable, and your booking is non-cancellable, and non-changeable. The discount only applies to bookings which are scheduled to depart no sooner than 180 days from the date of payment (no sooner than 270 days for Africa). The cancellation and refund (by you) and change of trip or departure terms and conditions do not apply to bookings subject to this payment plan. If you change or cancel your trip, you will forfeit your 50% deposit, and no refunds will apply. This discount cannot be combined with any other offers and applies to the trip cost only. We highly recommend that you purchase Cancel For Any Reason (CFAR) insurance. We recommend Redpoint Insurance – you can find details here. Use promocode EARLYBIRD10 at time of booking.

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Guaranteed Departures of ALL New Zealand Summer Adventures

Escape the Northern Hemisphere winter for some summer sun in the south.

Until the end of April 2024, ALL summer trips to New Zealand are guaranteed to go ahead!

From the volcanic plateau of central North Island, to alpine lakes and hiking trails in the spectacular Southern Alps, to pristine beaches of golden sands - come and experience the unique wonders of New Zealand.

Our summer trips are filling fast! Book now to secure your spot, and enjoy a fully-guided, small group adventure in New Zealand - the adventurer's dream destination.

Learn More About New Zealand South Island

Meet Your South Island Adventure & Hiking Guides

Meet Your South Island Adventure & Hiking Guides

Do I need a visa to visit New Zealand?

It is your responsibility stay up to date on the latest visa and entry requirements for your destination. Please use the CIBT entry tracker on our website as a guideline or visit the relevant immigration webpage for more information regarding this.

Do I need vaccinations to visit New Zealand?

For the most up-to-date recommendations please check with your doctor or travel clinic, and always go with their recommendations, as these can often change. We strongly recommend that you see a doctor, preferably one with experience in travel medicine, at least 8 weeks before your trip starts to discuss appropriate vaccinations.

Do you recommend buying travel insurance?

It’s essential you take out travel insurance to cover the likes of personal injury, medical expenses, trip cancellation for your travel with us. Please head to our Travel Insurance page for more in-depth information and insurance provider options. It’s also important to check your insurance covers all the activities you’ll be partaking in, in case you’re travelling to altitude or looking at extreme sports.

Can you help me find international flights to New Zealand?

Our preferred Travel Partner Fuzion Travel can assist with you with flights and other travel arrangements. Let them know your preferred travel plans, including any stopovers or extra nights’ accommodation, and they’ll put everything in place for you. They offer a total travel solution and five star service that you’ll want to tell your friends about!

What about domestic flights within New Zealand?

Most international flights arrive and depart from Auckland, on the North Island. Our North Island trip starts and ends in Auckland, though for our South Island trips, you'll also need flights between Auckland and Christchurch or Queenstown. This is usually easy to arrange when you reserve your international flights, and it's worth checking for internet specials online.

What's included on your New Zealand trips?

Accommodation

New Zealand accommodation

We've spent years finding places to stay that are quaint, out of the way, and comfortable when we take you to the most amazing parts of our country. The bed & breakfasts, farm stays, lodges, motels, and the occasional mountain hut we stay at have been carefully chosen because of their location and local flavour. Many of our clients have said that one of the highlights of their trip was meeting and getting to know the Kiwis who are our hosts when we travel around New Zealand. We strongly believe in the value of a good night's sleep, and our accommodation reflects this. We also like to have somewhere comfortable to relax after the day's activities.

On the trips that include multi-day hiking options, you’ll stay in cosy back-country huts (only for the nights of the multi-day option). This is a true kiwi wilderness experience, at the end of the day you’ll kick your feet up and share stories with your fellow travellers as the guides stoke the fire and prepare a three-course candle lit meal, all before a well-earned kip on a comfortable bed.

You won't have to camp on our scheduled trips, although we'll provide the gear if you'd like to sleep under the stars on the backpacking option in Nelson Lakes National Park or would like to include camping on a custom trip.

Transport

Active New Zealand transportNew Zealand is a small country - about 1000 miles from top to bottom, and only about 150 miles wide - but it's not THAT small! We're really focused on ensuring that we spend as little time as possible sitting in vehicles, and that we optimise your time for outdoors-oriented adventure. The average driving time over the period of our Ultimate South Island trip is just over two hours a day, and we try to spend us much time as possible in the outdoors. Even so, we prefer you to be comfortable when we do have to drive. We use modern, comfortable minibuses for smaller groups, and purpose-built coaches for larger groups. For instance, we often use one of our spacious, quiet and comfortable 20-seater coaches, even though we generally only take 10-14 people per trip! Make no mistake - our trips are not typical bus tour vacation packages! Our vehicles are fitted with good stereo systems, and we love to play New Zealand music.

Meals

Whats-included-pavlova-nzJust about all your meals are included when you travel with Active Adventures New Zealand. We provide a wide variety of cuisine - sometimes we dine out, and sometimes we dine in. Breakfasts when we are starting early generally consist of cereal, yoghurt, fruit, toast, coffee and tea. When we have more time, we whip up pancakes and full cooked breakfasts. Lunches are usually picnic style with sandwiches, salad and fruit, or maybe a barbeque in some beautiful spot. Dinners are usually two or three-course meals, covering a range of styles. We easily cater to vegetarians and people with particular dietary needs.

We have several second guides whose primary responsibility, when they are not guiding, is cooking up great meals. Their cooking skills will astound you, as you enjoy a traditional Kiwi roast dinner at the shearer's quarters, or freshly seared salmon at Mount Cook, or one of a score of awesome meals on the road! When we go out to eat, we pick a nice restaurant and enjoy a night out. You'll find the meals are a real highlight of your trip!

All Guiding Services

We have two incredible guides per trip, one whom will be your driver and the other specialises as your chef! Our guests are often drawn to New Zealand by the beautiful scenic landscapes, promise of wilderness and clean air - and there's no doubt you'll find all that, but what you may not be expecting is to forge real, genuine friendships with the locals you'll meet, including our wonderful guides. They're hands-down the BEST guides you'll ever come across. 

Activities

It goes without saying, that all the activities as described in the itineraries including hiking, kayaking and biking are included in your trip fare. We make it clear when there's an additional charge for an optional activity, like heli-hiking on Franz Josef Glacier. 

Diving Tutukaka Poor Knights Islands

How many people are there on each of our trips?

We get a real variety of people on our trips and they all seem to have one thing in common – a love of the outdoors! Our group sizes range from a minimum of four people to a maximum of fourteen people, generally with a mix of singles, couples and friends.

Do you charge a forced single supplement if I'm a solo traveller?

We welcome many solo travelers on our trips – in fact, we get so many solo travelers and they always say it’s a great way to travel alone, but not actually by themselves. You’ll have an incredible adventure sharing your experiences with other like-minded travelers, and the best part is we don't charge extra for solo travelers, providing you don’t mind sharing a room. However, for bookings within 90 days of your chosen departure, a forced single supplement will apply if there is no other guest of the same gender already booked to share with.

If you prefer not to share a room at all, you can upgrade to a single room, if one is available. 

 

What kind of clothing should I be packing?

Once you've booked your trip, you'll have access to a gear list in your portal on exactly what to bring along. The gear list is carefully thought out to provide you with everything you need to be warm and happy, or cool and relaxed, whatever the weather! So it is best to bring everything we recommend along, if you don't bring everything you need, we can't guarantee your comfort. The video below is a good overview of what to bring when hiking in New Zealand.

Do I need hiking boots or are hiking sneakers okay?

You will need proper hiking boots - trail shoes are not good enough. We'll be taking you to some awesome places where you'll be hiking over a variety of terrain, therefore your boots should have full ankle support and a stiff sole with a high profile tread. It's also important that whichever footwear you decide to bring that it's well broken-in and waterproofed before you come down. If you have good ankles that will be able to cope pretty well with varied terrain, then good hiking shoes should be fine, but if not then hiking boots will give you better support.

What is the food like in New Zealand?

The type of food varies – on some occasions your guides will cook your meals and on other occasions we’ll eat out at restaurants. We also keep a generous snack basket on the bus at all times. All the food you eat, be it a traditional Kiwi barbeque, or a packed lunch to take with you on a hike, will be of top quality. All our guides have food hygiene certificates and are well practiced in the art of back country catering!

What if I need a special diet?

We are accustomed to catering to the following special diets:

• vegan (no meat or animal products)
• vegetarian (no meat products)
• fishatarian (vegetarian, and eat fish)
• no red meat (eat chicken & fish)
• gluten intolerant (no wheat, rye, barley or oats)
• lactose intolerant (no dairy products)

You will get the opportunity to specify your particular requirements when you fill in our pre-trip questionnaire. If you have any other dietary requirements please let us know well in advance, via email or the online questionnaire.

What is the currency in New Zealand?

The currency in New Zealand is the New Zealand dollar

How much spending money should I bring and where do I get local currency?

Your trip fare includes all transportation, guiding, meals and activities (except any optional activities). Most people like to bring a little extra to cover a round of drinks at the pub, take home some souvenirs, book a tour and eat out on their free day in Queenstown or Auckland, and tip our guides if they've had a great time. 

Usually the easiest thing to do is use your credit or debit card to withdraw money directly from your home account, in local currency. There are plenty of ATM's and banks in larger towns in New Zealand, and ATM's will accept all major credit cards and many debit cards. Cash advances are the most convenient way to get cash.

What altitude will we be at in New Zealand?

The highest elevation we get to on any of the Active Adventures New Zealand trips is about 1,500 metres (5,000 feet). So there are no real altitude issues to contend with in New Zealand though the tracks can still be quite challenging.

What time zone is New Zealand in?

New Zealand Time (NZT) is the time zone for New Zealand. It is +13 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).

What types of plugs and voltage do you use in New Zealand?

nz plugNew Zealand operates on a 230V AC system with the Plug Type I.

Will I have access to the internet/WiFi?

WiFi is available almost everywhere in cities and easy enough to find in most towns/villages so you can rely on having access a few times a week during your trip. If you have data roaming switched on, then you'll be able to use the internet on your smartphone about 70% of the time during your trip, but beware of the fees! WiFi is available at some of the accommodations that you'll be staying at, usually for a small cost so check this out at each location when you arrive.

Is it safe to travel to New Zealand?

This also means New Zealand is a safe place to travel and the crime rate is low - visitors to New Zealand are held in high regard so you can expect the warmest of welcomes. . We recommend taking the same common sense
precautions you would anywhere else – just to be on the safe side! Don’t bring valuable things with you unless necessary for your trip. Keep your money and other valuables in a money belt or pouch under your clothes. Lock your bags and luggage, and leave valuable items you don’t need for the day (e.g. passports and credit cards) in the hotel safe.

What is the weather like in New Zealand?

New Zealand is an island nation, therefore enjoys a maritime climate with plenty of sunshine and mild temperatures. The weather can vary a lot from top to bottom and east to west, which can be a bit of a surprise for many of our visitors, who come from a continental climate where the weather is a little more predictable. Have you heard of the song "Four Seasons in One Day"? If you haven't, we suggest having a listen - it's a classic song by a kiwi group called Crowded House, and of course, the weather in New Zealand inspired the lyrics! They say, one of the reasons Sir Edmund Hillary was such an accomplished mountaineer was his ability to read the weather - his training in the Southern Alps no doubt played a large part in this! 

In the far north (aka the 'winterless north') you can expect semi-tropical conditions, with a fair dosing of rain, plenty of sun and mid temperatures during the day and evening. As you head further south, the average temperature falls, though each region has its own unique characteristics. For example, you'll often hear us talking about one of our favourite spots, the West Coast of the South Island. Along this wild stretch of largely uninhabited coast, rainfall is high (coming off the Tasman Sea) and temperatures are mild, which contributes to the Jurassic-like forests you'll encounter. The Southern Alps, which divide the South Island act as a catchment for this rain (which turns to snow and glacial ice at higher elevations). By the time the clouds have reached the eastern side of the Alps, they're empty, and as they make their way down towards the plains, they warm up creating the typical nor' westerly winds. 

Parts of the South Island have a sort of mini continental climate, being further from the ocean and sheltered by the alpine ranges. These areas, such as Queenstown can get hot and dry during the summer and remain cool in the evenings - perfect for some grape varieties.

Learn more about the weather down here at our best time to visit New Zealand page. 

 

Celsius

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring (Sep/Oct/Nov)

Summer (Dec/Jan/Feb)

Autumn (Mar/Apr/May)

Winter (Jun/Jul/Aug)

 

 

High

Low

High

Low

High

Low

High

Low

Bay of Islands

19

9

25

14

21

11

16

7

Auckland

18

11

24

12

20

13

15

9

Rotorua

17

7

24

12

18

9

13

4

Wellington

15

9

20

13

17

11

12

6

Christchurch

17

7

22

12

18

8

12

3

Queenstown

16

5

22

10

16

6

10

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fahrenheit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring (Sep/Oct/Nov)

Summer (Dec/Jan/Feb)

Autumn (Mar/Apr/May)

Winter (Jun/Jul/Aug)

 

 

High

Low

High

Low

High

Low

High

Low

Bay of Islands

67

48

76

56

70

52

61

45

Auckland

65

52

75

54

68

55

59

48

Rotorua

63

45

75

54

68

55

59

48

Wellington

59

48

68

55

63

52

54

43

Christchurch

63

45

72

54

65

46

54

37

Queenstown

61

41

72

50

61

43

50

34

What kind of things are there to do on my free day in Queenstown/Auckland/Christchurch?

Queenstown rightly has the reputation of being the Adventure Capital of New Zealand. All manner of adventurous activities can be tried here, ranging from the infamous Bungy-jumping, through river-surfing, jetboat-riding, white-water rafting, parasailing, parapenting, hang-gliding, sky-diving, and a whole lot more. It is also a great area for hiking or mountain-biking. For a more leisurely time you can take a Wine tour or cruise across to Walter Peak station on the steamship Earnslaw, or sample some of the extremely pleasant cafes and restaurants dotted around the very picturesque town.

There’s so much on offer in Auckland that we like to leave it up to you to decide what to do. If you’re an adrenaline junkie, there’s bungy jumping off the Auckland Harbour Bridge or a Sky Jump off our tallest man-made structure, the Sky Tower! For those who prefer a more relaxed pace, there’s hiking, golfing, fishing, wine tasting and sailing options to name a few. Or if you’d like to take things real easy, then there are shops, cafés, book stores, pubs and restaurants to explore. For movie enthusiasts, take the day to visit The Shire in Middle-earth, the setting for ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘Lord of The Rings’ movie trilogies.

In Christchurch you could take a walk around Hagley Park, including the Christchurch Botanic Gardens or visit the free Canterbury Museum to learn about New Zealand history, art and the natural world. Explore the Brockworth Street Art Gallery which gives you a taste of the awesome street art there is to see in Christchurch or head to Quake City (NZ$20 entry) gives you a deeper understanding of Christchurch’s recent history of the 2011 Canterbury Earthquakes. Check out the Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial too by following by the 185 Empty White Chairs memorial to those who lost their lives in these earthquakes.

Any good books or videos about New Zealand?

There are so many great stories to come out of New Zealand, probably because the landscape and the people inspire such creativity and adventure. Here is a list, gathered from across the Active Adventures family, of recommended reads:

  • "An Angel at My Table" - Janet Frame Though undoubtedly one of New Zealand's most accomplished novelists, Frame is perhaps best known for this three-volume autobiography, dramatised in Jane Campion's film which, with wit and a self-effacing honesty, gives a wonderful insight into both the author and her environment. Her superb novels and short stories use humour alongside highly disturbing combinations of events and characters to overthrow readers' preconceptions. For starters, try Faces in the Water, Living in the Maniototo, Scented Gardens for the Blind, Daughter Buffalo and Owls Do Cry (all The Women's Press).
  • "Dogside Story" - Patricia Grace - Short-listed for the 2001 Booker Prize, this is a wonderful story concerning the power of the land and the power of whanau at the turn of the Millennium. (whanau is the Maori word for family
  • "The Bone People" (Picador) - Keri Hulme - Celebrated winner of the 1985 Booker Prize, and a wonderful first novel set along the wild beaches of the South Island's West Coast. Mysticism, myth and earthy reality are transformed into a haunting tale peopled with richly drawn characters.
  • "King of the Gypsies" (Penguin) - Witi Ihimaera Bulibasha – The best introduction to one of the country's finest Maori authors. A rollicking good read, energetically exploring the life of a rebellious teenager in 1950s rural New Zealand, where two mighty sheep-shearing families are locked in battle. It's an intense look at adolescence, cultural choices, family ties and the abuse of power, culminating in a masterful twist. Look out also for the excellent The Matriarch (Penguin) and The Uncle Story (Talanoa, NZ) by the same author.
  • "The Luminaries" - Eleanor Catton - winner of the 2013 Man Booker Prize. The plot follows Walter Moody, a prospector who travels to the fledgling West Coast of the South Island settlement of Hokitika, near New Zealand's goldfields in 1866 to try to make his fortune. Instead he stumbles into a tense meeting between twelve local men, who draw him in to the complex mystery behind a series of unsolved crimes.
  • "The Penguin History of New Zealand" – Michael King - For NZ history this is the best book - It catalogues the history of New Zealand from initial settlement (well, at least the various theories of the initial settlements) right through to the government in 2005. This one is my favourite history books - to be read in small sections and with much discussion!

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