Ultimate South Island Adventure

  • 8 - 14 Days

    All Prices:

    • 8 Days - USD $5399
    • 12 Days - USD $5799
    • 14 Days - USD $5999
  • 14 People Max

    This trip has a maximum of 14 guests, plus two experienced Active Adventures guides.

  • Activity Level 3
    • Activity Level 3

      Earn Your Lunch

      I stay active on vacation and love the feeling of relaxing after a busy day on the go. I season my trips with a little fresh exercise.

    Read more about the Active Range

  • Trip Start: Christchurch
  • Trip End: Christchurch
Ultimate South Island Adventure

Looking for a great, outdoorsy way to see New Zealand? Our signature trip, the Ultimate South Island Adventure, is the perfect hiking tour for you.

We'll take you on an unforgettable journey exploring our mountains in Mount Cook National Park and Nelson Lakes National Park, walking the West Coast rainforest and coastlines, getting up close to glaciers in Franz Josef, cycling incredibly scenic trails such as the Alps to Ocean trail, hiking sections of our Great Walks, and even cruising on Milford Sound. You'll experience our unique culture and wildlife along the way. Each night, we'll stay in carefully hand-picked accommodation in some of New Zealand's most stunning settings. We've been fine-tuning this perennial favourite since 1996, and it's simply an incredible trip. You'll explore the most beautiful, famous and little-known places in the South Island with legendary hospitality and unsurpassed attention to detail on our 14-day Ultimate South Island Adventure tour. Be prepared to leave a piece of your heart in New Zealand.

Ultimate South Island Adventure ~ Itinerary

Trip Start: Christchurch Trip End: Christchurch
  • Day 1Arrive, hike to a fur seal colony on the Kaikoura Peninsula

  • Day 2 (morning)Visit vineyard, start multi-day options

  • Days 2, 3 and 4Multi-day hiking options

  • Days 2 to 4Option A, Nelson Lakes Hiking: The Angelus Circuit

  • Days 2 to 4Option B, Nelson Lakes Experience: The Rotoiti Circuit (extra fee applies)

  • Day 4 (afternoon)Finish multi-day backpacking

  • Day 5Hike Punakaiki Rainforest, explore Hokitika

  • Day 6Kayak Okarito Lagoon, hike coastal forest and beach

  • Day 7Hike near Franz Josef Glacier

  • Day 8Hike Rocky Mountain

  • Day 9Free day in Queenstown

  • Day 10Hike Kepler Track

  • Day 11Milford Sound Cruise, Hike Key Summit

  • Day 12Journey over Lindis Pass, Bike the Alps to Ocean trail

  • Day 13Hike Aoraki Mt Cook National Park

  • Day 14Depart for home

  • Day 1

    Arrive, hike to a fur seal colony on the Kaikoura Peninsula

    #13

    Most people leave the Northern Hemisphere on a Saturday evening, arriving in Auckland early Monday morning. You’ll lose a day crossing the dateline – but you get it back on the way home! It’s a short flight from Auckland to Christchurch on the South Island where we’ll meet you. We’ll start your trip by travelling up the coast to the seaside town of Kaikoura, where we’ll hike the scenic peninsula. Passing weathered limestone cliffs we’ll watch a colony of fur seals basking on the rocks and playing in the eddies, on a stretch of rugged coastline that was uplifted in the Kaikoura earthquake - it’s amazing to see this brand new land! Today is a relaxed introduction to New Zealand. Depending on where you’re coming from, you’ll probably find jetlag is no big deal. It’s a 12 to 13 hour direct overnight flight from the West Coast of the USA to Auckland and there’s only a 3 hour time difference between New Zealand and US Pacific time. If you’re coming from further afield, you’ll appreciate the gentle start to your New Zealand adventure.
    Kaikoura Lodgings, Kaikoura (Lunch, Dinner)

    Hiking Distance: 6.5 kilometres (4 miles), 1-2 hours
    Elevation Gain: 20 metres (65 feet)
    Elevation Loss: 20 metres (65 feet)

  • Day 2 (morning)

    Visit vineyard, start multi-day options

    #15

    From Kaikoura, we’ll travel along spectacular coastline for a couple of hours to Blenheim, a town in the Marlborough wine region. We’ll visit Forrest Estate Winery to sample some of their fantastic wines and have a picnic lunch before we head off for our various activities.

  • Days 2, 3 and 4

    Multi-day hiking options

  • Days 2 to 4

    Option A, Nelson Lakes Hiking: The Angelus Circuit

    #17

    Day 2 (afternoon) - Hike Angelus Circuit: Saint Arnaud to Lakehead Hut

    Our hike begins in the charming village of Saint Arnaud, on the edge of Nelson Lakes National Park. This is serious wilderness country, with incredible views and marvellous solitude. The park straddles the upper Southern Alps, an area composed of beech forests, big lakes and even bigger mountains. We’ll hike the relatively gentle trail through the forest alongside Lake Rotoiti to Lakehead Hut, a small mountain cabin at the head of the lake and our home for the night. Our guides are pretty tough and they’ll carry the lion’s share of the load. All you’ll be carrying is a backpack with your sleeping bag, a few spare clothes, and a share of our food. To protect this beautiful and fragile environment, we always keep our group sizes small and our exact route flexible.
    Lakehead Hut, Nelson Lakes National Park (All meals) 

    Hiking Distance: 11 kilometres (6.8 miles), 3-4 hours
    Elevation Gain: 20 metres (65 feet)
    Elevation Loss: 20 metres (65 feet)

    Day 3 - Hike Angelus Circuit: Lakehead Hut to Angelus Hut

    Today is an unforgettable day – the scenery gets better with each step! We follow the Travers River through beech forest, before heading up the Hukere Stream towards the ridgeline. This is a challenging hike, with an elevation gain of 1000 metres (3280 feet), but it’s absolutely worth it. The Angelus Circuit has exceptional scenic diversity, so it provides a great reward for the efforts you put in. There’s no rush and we’ll be there to encourage you the whole way. It’s a tremendous feeling at the top when you reach Angelus Hut, nestled beside a gorgeous alpine lake. Many people tell us this hidden gem was the highlight of their New Zealand adventure, and a lot of Kiwis prefer the Angelus Circuit to better-known tracks.
    Angelus Hut, Nelson Lakes National Park (All meals)

    Hiking Distance: 10 kilometres (6.2 miles), 6-8 hours
    Elevation Gain: 1,050 metres (3,445 feet)

    Day 4 (morning) - Hike Angelus Circuit: Angelus Hut to Lake Rotoiti

    Wake up on top of the world! After breakfast, we’ll hike out along the barren Robert Ridge with dramatic views of Tasman Bay and the mountainous Kahurangi National Park in the distance. We’ll descend below the treeline again into native beech forest completing our hike on the shores of Lake Rotoiti. Here, we’ll meet up with the Rotoiti Circuit explorers and share stories of our adventures, before carrying on to the West Coast.

    Hiking Distance: 11 kilometres (6.8 miles), 4-6 hours
    Elevation Gain: 70 metres (230 feet)
    Elevation Loss: 840 metres (2,755 feet)

  • Days 2 to 4

    Option B, Nelson Lakes Experience: The Rotoiti Circuit (extra fee applies)

    Day 2 (afternoon) – Hike Rotoiti Circuit: Saint Arnaud to Lakehead Hut

    Our hike begins in the charming village of Saint Arnaud, on the edge of Nelson Lakes National Park. This is serious wilderness country, with incredible views and marvellous solitude. The park straddles the upper Southern Alps, an area composed of beech forests, big lakes and even bigger mountains. We’ll hike the relatively gentle trail through the forest alongside Lake Rotoiti to Lakehead Hut and jetty. From here, we’ll board a water taxi to take us back to St Arnaud, where we’ll stay for the next couple of nights.
    St Arnaud lodgings, St Arnaud (All meals)

    Hiking Distance: 11 kilometres (6.8 miles), 3-4 hours
    Elevation Gain: 20 metres (65 feet)
    Elevation Loss: 20 metres (65 feet)

    Day 3 – Hike Rotoiti Circuit: Coldwater Hut to Saint Arnaud

    After breakfast we’ll return by water taxi to the top end of the lake, and this time we’ll arrive to Coldwater hut and jetty – just across the river from Lakehead hut. From here we'll follow the trail as it gently winds its way around Lake Rotoiti to Whisky Creek, and the beautiful Whisky Falls. Feel free to fill up your water bottles from Whisky Creek, but it IS only water, honest! After a picnic lunch on the lakeshore, we’ll continue on to West Bay and looping back to St Arnaud for the evening.
    St Arnaud lodgings, St Arnaud (All meals)

    Hiking Distance: 14 kilometres (8.7 miles), 4-5 hours
    Elevation Gain: 90 metres (295 feet)
    Elevation Loss: 90 metres (295 feet)

    Day 4 (morning) - Hike Rotoiti Circuit: Hike Roberts Ridge

    After breakfast we’ll clamber back into our hiking boots to set out for this morning's walk. We'll explore the beautiful peninsula track, stretching out into Lake Rotoiti, before making our way to the Pinchgut Track. This trail gives access to Mt Robert, and Robert's Ridge, where the rest of the group will be approaching from the Angelus Circuit. We'll wind our way up the trail through the native beech trees and manuka scrub to meet the group. Once we’re back together we’ll enjoy a picnic lunch, before carrying on to the West Coast.

    Hiking Distance: Up to 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) 
    Elevation Gain: Up to 400 metres (1312 feet) 
    Elevation Loss: Up to 400 metres (1312 feet) 

  • Day 4 (afternoon)

    Finish multi-day backpacking

    After regrouping in Saint Arnaud, we’ll head across the Southern Alps to the West Coast – a dramatic and rugged coastline stretching 600 kilometres (372 miles), with a population of only 40,000 people. We’ll mingle with the ‘coasters’ tonight in the seaside village of Punakaiki, exchanging tales of our adventures over dinner.
    West Coast lodgings, Punakaiki (All meals)

  • Day 5

    Hike Punakaiki Rainforest, explore Hokitika

    #25

    We’ll spend the morning hiking the Inland Pack Track through temperate rainforest and limestone canyons, following in the footsteps of gold miners who established this trail over a century ago. While we’re in Punakaiki, we’ll also check out the famous Pancake Rocks and blowholes – aptly named limestone formations that have been sculpted through the relentless pounding of the Tasman Sea. Travelling along the scenic coastline, we’ll stretch our legs in Hokitika and check out local art galleries and pounamu-carving workshops (pounamu is Maori for jade), before carrying on to the township of Franz Josef where we’ll stay for the next couple of nights. Nestled in the rainforest-clad foothills of the Southern Alps, Franz Josef is the heart of New Zealand glacier country.
    Rainforest Retreat, Franz Josef (All meals)

    Hiking Distance: 6 kilometres (4 miles), 2-3 hours 
    Elevation Gain: 130 metres (425 feet)
    Elevation Loss: 130 metres (425 feet)

  • Day 6

    Kayak Okarito Lagoon, hike coastal forest and beach

    #39

    This morning we’ll take a short journey over to Okarito, a little-known beach community on the coast. We’ll take to the water in sea kayaks and glide along a picturesque lagoon, set against a stunning backdrop of snow-capped peaks. Okarito is home to the only native white heron colony in New Zealand, as well as a host of other interesting birds. Later we’ll head back to Franz Josef where you’ll have the option to take another walk or relax in the hot tub, before enjoying a traditional Kiwi roast dinner.
    Rainforest Retreat, Franz Josef (All meals)

    Hiking Distance: 4.2 kilometres (2.6 miles), 1-2 hours
    Elevation Gain: 120 metres (394 feet)
    Elevation Loss: 120 metres (394 feet)

    Kayaking Time: 2-4 hours

  • Day 7

    Hike near Franz Josef Glacier

    #41

    With some 140 glaciers making their way down from the Southern Alps, this area is fittingly known as glacier country. Few sights equal the spectacle of two of these giant frozen rivers (Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers) imperceptibly grinding their way down through temperate rainforest to just 250 metres (820 feet) above sea level. We’ll spend most of the day near Franz Josef Glacier hiking up through the forest to either Alex Knob or Roberts Point, both of which give incredible views of the ice. These hikes can be inaccessible in wet weather, so we may opt to hike close to the terminal face of the glaciers, around Lake Matheson and to the Blue Pools near Haast Pass instead.

    Optional Heli-hike (extra fee applies)
    An outrageously scenic alternative to today’s hike is to heli-hike on Franz Josef Glacier itself. After being fitted with crampons, you’ll board a turbine helicopter and fly towards the highest peaks of the Southern Alps, landing on the glacier at 1300 metres (4265 feet) above sea level. Led by specialist glacier guides, you’ll hike through the grand ice formations of the glacier, checking out its crevasses, seracs and tunnels – no previous experience is required! The constant movement of the glacier means every day is different, so your guides will cut steps in the ice to make the most of the conditions. At the end of your hike on the ice, you’ll take another helicopter ride out of the mountains and back to civilisation.

    The heli-hike is extremely popular, so we offer advance reservations with the helicopter operators and guiding company. At the time of booking, or up until one month before your trip, we can reserve a space for you, or you can leave your decision until the start of your trip and your guides will get you a spot if it’s available

    From Franz Josef, we’ll travel down the coast through lush forest and then inland to Makarora, a small village bordering Mt Aspiring National Park, with incredible views of the snow-capped mountains.
    Makarora Lodgings, Makarora (All meals)

    Alex Knob Hiking Distance: 8 kilometres (5 miles), 5-6 hours
    Elevation Gain: 1,100 metres (3,610 feet)
    Elevation Loss: 1,100 metres (3,610 feet)

    Robert's Point Hiking Distance: 12 kilometres (7.5 miles), 4-6 hours
    Elevation Gain: 400 metres (1,312 feet)
    Elevation Loss: 400 metres (1,312 feet)

  • Day 8

    Hike Rocky Mountain

    #85

    The landscape this morning changes rapidly from dense beech forest to semi-arid mountainous terrain. We’ll hike the Rocky Mountain track today, a spectacular circuit through an area carved out by ice age glaciers, with stands of native forest and shrubland. We’ll enjoy lunch after our hike in Wanaka before a short but dramatic journey over the Cardrona Saddle to Queenstown on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, our base for the next couple of days. You’ll sleep sweetly tonight at a lakefront hotel located in the heart of Queenstown.
    Crowne Plaza Hotel, Queenstown (Breakfast, Lunch)

    Hiking Distance: 7 kilometres (4.5 miles), 2-3 hours
    Elevation Gain: 375 metres (1,230 feet)
    Elevation Loss: 375 metres (1,230 feet)

    NOTE: The 8-day trip option ends today in Queenstown. 

  • Day 9

    Free day in Queenstown

    #87

    Queenstown is the adventure capital of New Zealand (if not the world!) and all the comforts of civilisation are packed into this tiny resort town: restaurants galore, sidewalk cafés, stylish lounge bars, day spas and boutiques. You’ll also find incredible optional activities here including horse trekking, a gondola, kayaking, fishing, winery tours, hang gliding, mountain biking, bungy jumping, jet boating and skydiving, as well as some great hiking opportunities. Or you can just soak up the atmosphere or lounge about reading a book. Your guides will happily share their favourite haunts and point you in the right direction for your free day today.
    Crowne Plaza Hotel, Queenstown (No meals included)

  • Day 10

    Hike Kepler Track

    #89

    This morning we’ll make our way around Lake Wakatipu, leaving behind the towering Remarkables and head west to the small town of Te Anau, the gateway to Milford Sound. This afternoon we’ll take a hike on the famous Kepler Track, one of New Zealand’s Great Walks - we follow the track through mountain beech forest and along the Waiau River. It’s an awesome hike with spectacular views! Tonight we’ll stay on the edge of Lake Te Anau, enjoying the scenery and the delicious local fare.
    Te Anau Lodgings, Te Anau (All meals)

    Hiking Distance: 9.5 kilometres (6 miles), 2-3 hours
    Elevation Gain: 50 metres (165 feet)
    Elevation Loss: 50 metres (165 feet)

  • Day 11

    Milford Sound Cruise, Hike Key Summit

    #91

    It’s an early start this morning as we set off for our largest and perhaps most spectacular national park, Fiordland. We’ll take a short drive through the Homer Tunnel and emerge at the top of a spectacular glacier-carved valley for a memorable descent to the shore of Milford Sound. Rudyard Kipling rated this fiord as the eighth natural wonder of the world and it is truly breath-taking, with steep granite walls plunging over a thousand metres to the Tasman Sea and waterfalls cascading into deep inky water. We’ll jump on board the first boat cruise of the day, where we’ll have the water to ourselves, as we gaze in wonder at the waterfalls tumbling down enormous vertical rock faces all around and journey right out to the entrance of the fiord. We may be lucky enough to encounter the friendly fur seals and dolphins that are sometimes in the area. After the cruise, we’ll enjoy a tasty lunch before heading out to explore more of Fiordland’s wilderness on foot. We’ll hike part of the Routeburn Track for unsurpassed views of the Hollyford Valley, as well as Lake Marian and Mt Christina, before making our way back to Te Anau for the night. 
    Te Anau Lodgings, Te Anau(All meals)

    Cruise Time: 2-3 hours

    Hiking Distance: 3.4 kilometres (2 miles), 3-4 hours
    Elevation Gain: 380 metres (1,246 feet)
    Elevation Loss: 380 metres (1,246 feet)

  • Day 12

    Journey over Lindis Pass, Bike the Alps to Ocean trail

    #93

    After an early breakfast, we’ll head back through Queenstown and head North, driving through the tussock-country of Lindis Pass to Lake Pukaki, where we’ll hop on bikes and ride a portion of the Alps to Ocean Trail, following the well-groomed trail around the alpine lake with views across to the magnificent Aoraki Mount Cook, passing a range of native plants including Kowhai (with brilliant yellow flowers, popular with endemic Tui birds), flax and tussocks. The trail then cuts through farmland across the Mackenzie Country basin and we’ll make our way back to Twizel. We’ll bike straight to our accommodation for our last two nights, with stunning views stretching across the Southern Alps. We’re in the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve, with light pollution strictly controlled in the area, so it’s the ideal spot to stargaze!
    Lodgings, Mackenzie Country (All meals)

    Biking Distance: 24 kilometres (15 miles), 2 hours

    Note: The 12-day trip option ends today in Queenstown.

  • Day 13

    Hike Aoraki Mt Cook National Park

    #95

    Mt Cook, named Aoraki or ‘cloud piercer’ by South Island Maori, is the highest mountain in New Zealand. Directly opposite the mountain, we have a stunning day hike to the main ridge above Mueller Glacier. It’s a challenging hike, but you’ll remember the view of the glacier and the surrounding peaks forever! The weather conditions are very important in this area, as it’s a true alpine climate notorious for sudden weather shifts. If we aren’t able to do the Mueller Glacier hike, or you’d like to take it a little easier, there’s an impressive hike up to a glacial lake (complete with icebergs!) at the base of the Hooker Glacier. Then we head back to our accommodation for the last night of the ‘Rimu’, where we’ll enjoy a celebratory dinner together and watch the sunset over the Southern Alps.
    Lodgings, Mackenzie Country (All meals)

    Mueller Ridge Hiking Distance: 7.2 kilometres (4.4 miles), 5-6 hours
    Elevation Gain: 975 metres (3,200 feet)
    Elevation Loss: 975 metres (3,200 feet)

    Hooker Glacier Hiking Distance: 9 kilometres (5.6 miles), 3-4 hours
    Elevation Gain: 100 metres (328 feet)
    Elevation Loss: 100 metres (328 feet)

  • Day 14

    Depart for home

    After breakfast we’ll head to Christchurch, arriving in time for afternoon flights. This is the end of your ‘Rimu’ trip and we’ll leave you refreshed and invigorated from the good food, exercise, rest, and great times you’ll have had with us in New Zealand! For a great way to see the North Island too, where you’ll experience Maori culture, pristine beaches and geothermal areas, you can combine this trip with our 11-day ‘Kauri’ (5-day ‘Kauri’ options available).
    (Breakfast, Lunch)

Ultimate South Island Adventure Departure Dates

  • Upcoming
  • 3 months
  • 6 months
  • 1 year

This trip is also available in 8 and 12-day options. The 8-day option starts on Day 1 of the itinerary and ends on Day 8. The 12-day option starts on Day 1 of the itinerary and ends on Day 12. Contact us for more information and prices.

USD $5999/pp
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Ultimate South Island Adventure 4/14/2025-4/27/2025
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Interactive Trip Map: Click on the map icons to read details for each day

What Our Guests Say About the Ultimate South Island Adventure

view all

- May 2022

Amazing trip with great guides

"I had a great time on the Jaguar trip - our guides were friendly, knowledgeable,… read more

"I had a great time on the Jaguar trip - our guides were friendly, knowledgeable, organized, and always helpful. Our porters and camp staff also were friendly and highly competent. The sites chosen by the guides for us to visit were always interesting, and the guides were able to provide great information about them. The information provided to us by Active Adventures was helpful and comprehensive - my only comments regarding the pre-trip information would be to update the materials to clarify that guests need a small day pack for biking and day hikes AND a 30L plus hiking bag for the Inca trail, and the pre-trip information could have included information about tipping for the porters and guides. While it is sensible that the company would not want to pressure guests into tipping a certain amount, everyone in my group had a wonderful time and genuinely wanted to show appreciation to our porters and guides. It would have been helpful to know how much cash we should have with us when departing on the trail to be able to tip each individual adequately, as well as information about when in the trip we would have an opportunity to tip both porters and guides. read less

5 Stars (2056 reviews)

Amy, United States

- May 2022

Bucket list trip for sure!!

"After having had my retirement bucket list trip snatched from under me in 2020, I… read more

"After having had my retirement bucket list trip snatched from under me in 2020, I was delighted to finally take it this April. Active Adventures deserves huge kudos for honouring its commitment to the trip. I travelled with two friends, and we were in a group of 15 on the trip - from the US and Canada. What a fantastic group of people! Best of all though, were our two tour guides from the Galapagos, Pepo and Paulo. They were the best ambassadors for the islands and Ecuador - very knowledgeable, professional, kind hearted - and just plain fun. They made us feel safe and relaxed throughout the trip. The islands are gorgeous - and the wildlife does not disappoint. I found deep ocean snorkelling a bit out of my comfort zone, and wished I had practiced a bit in a pool before I left. However, it is an essential part of the trip, and cannot be skipped. Learning about tectonic plates, volcanoes and the conservation efforts for the giant tortoises was food for thought. As for helpful tips, bring lots of sun screen, sun protective clothing, and bug spray. These items are not readily available on the islands, but they are absolutely essential. Also bring a reusable water bottle as recommended by AA, because although bottled water is available for purchase everywhere, it makes more sense to fill up from the large reusable containers provided and not create plastic waste. I would definitely recommend this beautiful active adventure - my first with this company, but not my last. read less

5 Stars (1564 reviews)

Serena, Canada

- May 2022

Bucket List Trip

"We loved our trip to Galapagos! Our guides, Pepo and Paulo were so knowledgeable… read more

"We loved our trip to Galapagos! Our guides, Pepo and Paulo were so knowledgeable about the islands and loved sharing it all with us. The warm weather was so welcome after a winter in New England. All of the logistics were handled smoothly so that all we had to do was enjoy the varied land and marine wildlife. An amazing trip that I highly recommend! read less

5 Stars (1564 reviews)

Claudia, United States

- May 2022

Somethings really do live up to the hype. This was AMAZING!!

"To be honest, I was a little leery traveling with a new company, with new… read more

"To be honest, I was a little leery traveling with a new company, with new people and well, Covid. But this was abso-fricking-lutely the BEST ADVENTURE TRIP! From our guide, Pepo (who completely hit it out of the park), to the places we saw, to the organization behind the scenes and those wonderful meals, this was amazing! If you want the best way to SEE the Galapagos Islands, this is it. I can't say enough great things about Galakiwi (Active's partner) and our guides. They made this trip unforgettable. Pepo and Paolo answered our flora/fauna questions (we had lots!) and happily shared us what makes this place so special. And man, Pepo can dance - and surf! We're already talking about our next Active Adventure - we can't wait! :) read less

5 Stars (1564 reviews)

Lori, United States

Ultimate Patagonia & Chile Adventure - April 2022

Wonderful Patagonia

"Although initially disappointed that the border with Argentina remained closed, the Torres del Paine hiking… read more

"Although initially disappointed that the border with Argentina remained closed, the Torres del Paine hiking with Alvaro and Christian was compensation aplenty. read less

4 Stars (1175 reviews)

Nick, United Kingdom

Ultimate Patagonia & Chile Adventure - April 2022

Bucket List Trip!

"I finally made it to Patagonia! And I couldn't have done it with a better… read more

"I finally made it to Patagonia! And I couldn't have done it with a better company! This was my 5th tour with Active!
The landscape was even more breathtaking than I had imagined. And every guide was so much fun to hang out with and incredibly knowledgeable about the culture and the land. If you are planning a trip to Patagonia and you love being in the outdoors, this is the tour company for you! read less

5 Stars (1175 reviews)

Jolene, Canada

- April 2022

West Coast is a must visit

"This is our second Active Adventures trip and we weren't disappointed. The itinerary was excellent… read more

"This is our second Active Adventures trip and we weren't disappointed. The itinerary was excellent and food and accommodation of a high standard. We loved the West Coast scenery. The walks were amazing, particularly around Lake Matheson and Punakaiki. Kayaking on Okarito Lagoon, heli-hiking on Franz Joseph Glacier and the scenic flight over Mt Aspiring National Park out to Milford Sound were fantastic experiences. Our guide Clare was first class. Everything was organised to perfection and nothing was too much trouble. read less

5 Stars (2 reviews)

Robert, New Zealand

- April 2022

Fabulous trip!

"First “big” trip in 2 years due to the pandemic. Honestly, more anxiety than excitement… read more

"First “big” trip in 2 years due to the pandemic. Honestly, more anxiety than excitement prior to the trip but once I arrived in the Galapagos, the excitement hit and so glad my friend and I decided to go on the adventure together. AA tour made the trip really easy. I really like the balance of being “active” and some downtime of my own. The tour guides were friendly and very knowledgeable. The meals were all very good except for the first night dinner on San Cristobal Island…to me, it wasn’t good. I thought the fish weren’t well prepared and tasted too fishy. Another person ordered the same meal and I noticed she hardly touched hers. Later I found out hers was too salty. Another low light for me was the accommodations on Floreana Island. Apparently, very limited hotel selections on the island. Hotel Wittmer was ran down and we all had cold showers that night. I also found a smashed dead mosquito with blood on the wall! Isabela Island was fun and where we stayed was wonderful. I wish we had more time on Santa Cruz Island. All in all, I had a fantastic trip and would recommend this trip to my friends who enjoy the outdoor and animals! read less

5 Stars (1564 reviews)

Hui-Chien, United States

- April 2022

Wonderful wildlife adventures

"The Tortuga trip was full of once in a lifetime experiences. Pablo, our guide was… read more

"The Tortuga trip was full of once in a lifetime experiences. Pablo, our guide was so passionate about the islands and knowledgeable about the wildlife and all aspects of our trip. We swam with sea turtles, rays, sea lions, and sharks!. The land tortoises were great to see in their natural habitat and in the breeding centers. I learned so much about the history of the islands, the environment, Darwin's studies and plans for the furture on the island. The snorkeling in Los Tunels was the highlight as well as the hike to the volcano lava fields. The Galapagos is truely a unique and fascinating place. read less

5 Stars (1564 reviews)

Barb, United States

- April 2022

Great experience

"Well organised trip read more

"Well organised trip read less

5 Stars (863 reviews)

Adrian, New Zealand

Ultimate Patagonia & Chile Adventure - April 2022

Almost to Antarctica

"The Condor trip and the W Trek were wonderful. I was there in early February… read more

"The Condor trip and the W Trek were wonderful. I was there in early February and the weather was good; clouds mixed with sun, and surprisingly warm…but windy. The guides, as always, were special and took care of everything. The scenery is amazing, and constant for the entire 4+ days. The Argentina border was closed so the trip was modified to include the Chile Lake District, and I opted out of that portion of the trip because it was similar to the Active Adventures Puma trip which I did a couple years ago (also a great trip!). Even doing only the W Trek was great…and I hope to return for the whole trip! read less

5 Stars (1175 reviews)

Mark, United States

- April 2022

Great trip with Great people

"I could write pages about our Tortuga trip in April . Instead I will just… read more

"I could write pages about our Tortuga trip in April . Instead I will just say that we were so surprised how much we enjoyed traveling with Active Adventures. We are typically not "group travel" people but in the Galapagos it seems necessary...so many things to line up and local people and facilities to communicate with. AAdventures did this with amazing competency. Things flowed seamlessly. Our guide Pepo and his assistant Paolo were amazing. They seemed to do all this and yet still ENJOY being with us, answering questions and getting everyone excited for the next adventure. I will advise that this is an active trip, not intense but lots of exercise, sweating and moving every day. It is important to know that and be prepared or know that you might skip some of the longer things. I also want to add that the guides' English was beautiful and Pepo's knowledge about the area, the geography and the animals was impressive. To anyone who is worried about the "group" aspect but needs the logistics AAdventures can provide, be assured. They still respect your privacy, your right to skip something if its not for you and the small size makes it not feel chaotic. Food was also very good, fresh and simple but abundant and well prepared. I had dreamed of this trip since I was a little girl and read about the tortoises in National Geographic. I never thought the experience would live up to the dream, but it truly did and I think Active Adventures had a big part in that. read less

5 Stars (1564 reviews)

Lynn, United States

Ecuador Volcano and Jungle Adventure - April 2022

Tapir with Alberto

"This was an excellent way to see more of mainland Ecuador. The scenery was… read more

"This was an excellent way to see more of mainland Ecuador. The scenery was breathtaking with waterfalls, rushing river and majestic mountains. Got to sample local cuisine with I enjoyed very much. read less

5 Stars (294 reviews)

Sandy, United States

- April 2022

Takahe trip 27 Mar-31 Mar 22

"This was a trip down memory lane for me revisiting old haunts & visiting new… read more

"This was a trip down memory lane for me revisiting old haunts & visiting new ones. I was thrilled with how it all went & with the experience of our guides & their enthusiasm. The weather was perfect & I achieved everything on my bucket list! read less

5 Stars (863 reviews)

Colleen, New Zealand

- April 2022

Our 4th trip with Active

"Another great guide. Beautiful diving, biking and hiking adventures. Great local food and accommodations. We… read more

"Another great guide. Beautiful diving, biking and hiking adventures. Great local food and accommodations. We have loved every single Active Adventure. As always though, the Active guides are what make the trip special. This time Pepo and Paulo were absolutely awesome with their knowledge and communication. The people in the group always seem to come together as great friends and we have the guides to thank for that! Can't wait for the next one! read less

5 Stars (1564 reviews)

Paul, United States

- April 2022

Amazing trip

"We loved our Active Adventures trip. The guides were amazing, super organised and great company. read more

"We loved our Active Adventures trip. The guides were amazing, super organised and great company. read less

5 Stars (64 reviews)

Kate, New Zealand

NZ Lodging

Accommodation

We’ve selected the accommodation on your ‘Rimu’ trip for the stunning settings, unique character and adventuresome feel. We prefer to stay in quaint, comfortable bed and breakfasts, lodges and apartments, some of which have private bathrooms and some shared bathrooms. Some places are fairly basic – like the huts on the Nelson Lakes hiking option – and the true Kiwi experience makes it all worthwhile.

Active Adventure Assurance

Our Active Adventures Assurance

If your plans change or you decide to travel to another destination, you can change your trip to any of our departures in any destination or request a refund (less deposit) up to 90 days out from your original trip start date.

READ MORE

Useful Info

What's the maximum group size on this trip?

This trip has a maximum of 14 guests, plus two experienced Active Adventures guides. 

Where does the trip start?

On the first morning of the trip, our two pick-up locations are Rydges Latimer Square at 10:30am or the Christchurch airport (CHC) in front of the Help Desk (near door 7) at 11am. You are welcome to stay at any hotel in Christchurch if you arrive before the first day, though you must make your own way to one of the two pick-up points at the pre-designated times.

Where does the trip end?

Your trip ends with a drop-off at either the Christchurch Airport (CHC) in time for flights below or anywhere in Central Christchurch around 3pm.

What flights would you recommend?

Arrival: If you’re flying in on the first day of the trip, we recommend arriving in Christchurch before 10am on Monday.

Departure: Flying out on the last day of the trip, we recommend departing from Christchurch after 4pm on Sunday. If you are considering alternative flight times please check with us. International flights from Auckland usually leave early evening, so if you’re heading back to North America, you’ll get home some time on Sunday, even though you left on Sunday evening! Flights back to Europe, of course, take a little longer.

How fit do I need to be?

As an Activity Level 3-4 trip, you’ll need a good level of fitness for this trip as it’s one of our more adventurous trips. Typically, hikes range between two and five hours to complete, more, or less hiking is available depending on your multi-day option.

Please head to our Fitness Guide for great tips on how to prepare along with a workout plan!

What accommodations do we stay at on this trip?

We’ve selected the accommodation on your trip for the stunning settings, unique character and adventuresome feel. We prefer to stay in quaint, comfortable bed and breakfasts, lodges and apartments, some of which have private bathrooms and some shared bathrooms. You may be sharing a two bedroom apartment or bathroom with other group members at some stage. Some places are fairly basic – like the huts on the Nelson Lakes hiking option – and the true Kiwi experience makes it all worthwhile.

If you've selected a single supplement for your trip, the Nelson Lakes hiking option is not included as no single rooms are available in the huts, and the single supplement price takes this into account.

While there are laundry facilities at most locations, they may not be convenient or there may only be one machine to service your entire group. We recommend bringing enough clothing to only have to do laundry a couple of times during your trip. The best time will be during your two night stay in Queenstown (during your free day). 

How much luggage can I bring on this trip?

You’ll need one piece of luggage on your trip, plus a daypack. Your main piece of luggage can be anything from a backpack, to a sports bag with wheels or a suitcase and a good quality daypack 25-30 litres (2000 cubic inches) to use throughout the days.

If you've chosen the Nelson Lakes Hiking option, you'll also require a good quality trekking pack with well-fitting shoulder and waist straps. Your pack should have a volume of ~60 litres (3500 cubic inches), large enough to fit your sleeping bag inside along with all your multi-day gear.

Will we encounter snow on this trip?

During bumper snow years the snow may stay on the mountains into October and November. If so, the New Zealand Department of Conservation (equivalent of the USA’s National Park Service) will not allow us to travel over heavily snowed terrain for safety reasons and we heed their warnings. As a result, we may not be able to access some higher elevation hikes such as Mueller Ridge in Aoraki Mt. Cook National Park and Robert’s Ridge in Nelson Lakes National Park - both at 1,500 metres (4500 feet) in our itinerary. Luckily, New Zealand is full of stunning hikes so we’ll select an alternative hike that allows you to enjoy the snow-capped peaks from a safe distance.

Tell me about the Optional Activities on this trip?

You have the option to take an exciting scenic helicopter flight to visit the upper reaches of the Franz Josef Glacier on the West Coast – an area usually only experienced mountaineers would get to see. No prior experience is required, everything you need is supplied, and as long as you can hike, you can heli-hike!

The three hour package includes a scenic helicopter flight (15 minutes one-way), a two-hour guided walk on and around the glacier and amazing panoramic views of the area. A good level of fitness is required and the following equipment is provided for you: glacier boots, socks, crampons, ice axe and a waterproof raincoat. You’ll need to bring three warm upper body layers, leggings or lightweight trousers, waterproof trousers, sunglasses, sunscreen, some snacks and a small drink bottle.

Note; this is not a fast activity, as walking with a group and continually cutting steps in the ice can be time-consuming. This is however a unique experience. Also If you have (or have had) a heart condition, ACL Knee surgery or you exceed the weight limit of 110 kilograms (240 pounds), you may be refused this activity on arrival.

Tell me about the Nelson Lakes Hiking Option: The Angelus Circuit

The hiking option is a remote one way hike through the Nelson Lakes National Park wilderness area for three days and two nights. You’ll be hiking a loop track from hut to hut carrying everything you need in your own backpack. While your guides carry the lion’s share of the load, you’ll still need to carry your own gear (sleeping bag, dry clothes and toiletries) and a portion of the group’s food. Any excess gear is stored securely for you at the start of the trail.

The first day is an undulating hike along the shores Lake Rotoiti to Lakehead Hut. The following morning we begin our most challenging day, starting out along the Travers River and then turning to hike beside Hukere Stream where the path takes you to more demanding sections with tangles of roots, to the end of the valley. After it’s a steeper climb upto the ridgeline, on a rocky scree track. There’s a total elevation gain of 1000 metres (3000 feet) and the views are worth it, with Angelus hut perched next to a beautiful alpine lake. After a hearty breakfast the next day it’s a four to five hour hike out along the Roberts Ridge along a rocky trail, over boulders and some steep terrain before descenting back through the trees to the road, where we’ll meet up with the others - if there are others doing these options.

The average distance we cover on this hike is around 11 kilometres (7 miles) a day. While we must complete each day’s hike to get to our home for the night, we can take as long as we need to get there.

While on the hiking option you’ll be sleeping in Department of Conservation (DOC) owned mountain huts. These unique huts are open to the public and are warm, dry and comfortable. They’re located in very remote areas (with amazing scenery) so they don’t have private rooms, electricity, hot water, phones or flushing toilets - and the view from the outhouse is second to none! This really is New Zealand’s wildest country and because it’s not possible to book these huts, you’ll meet and share the experience with other mountain adventurers and explorers.

Tell me about the Nelson Lakes Hiking Experience: The Rotoiti Circuit

Experience hiking in the Nelson Lakes National Park, from the comfort of a St Arnaud Lodge! You’ll be heading out on day hikes so you'll only require a day pack for each day. The remainder of your gear will stay behind at your accommodation in St Arnaud.

On the first day you'll hike in to Lakehead Hut with the Angelus Circuit group, before water taxiing back to St Arnaud. The next day you'll head back out on the lake, then continue hiking around the other side of the lake before staying a second night in St Arnaud. After waking up in St Arnaud the next morning, we’ll head out to the Mount Robert carpark and hike to a viewpoint over Lake Rotoiti, just above the treeline, where we’ll meet up with the Nelson Lakes Hiking guests - if there are others doing this option. There’s a total elevation gain of 400 metres (1,312 feet) and the views are worth it, looking out over Lake Rotoiti from a different perspective.

The average distance that we cover on this hike is around 11 kilometres (7 miles) a day. 

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