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Community Involvement

In the mid-nineties we began running small guided hiking tours around the South Island of New Zealand, helping to get folks off the beaten track and into the wilderness. Joining the dots between hiking trails, we'd pass through small, traditional kiwi towns, often opting to stay the night to introduce our guests to the New Zealand way of life. We wouldn't still be running adventure tours if we hadn't taken the time to acknowledge and support these small communities. After all, it's communities like Okarito, Braemar Station, Makarora and Manapouri that make our trips special and unique. 

Another classic kiwi village is Arthur's Pass, in the heart of the Southern Alps of the South Island. This stunning village presented us with a unique opportunity when we were looking for new ways to give back to the communities of NZ that have given our travellers so much over the years. We were looking for an initiative that would benefit the local community, as well as the future of our country as a whole. The Arthur's Pass Kea Project (operating under the Kea Conservation Trust) did just that, with a focus on education and participation to conserve the endangered kea - an alpine parrot close to many New Zealander's hearts. So we jumped at the opportunity, and we're proud to say we're playing a key role in supporting the future of this important New Zealand character.

Arthur's Pass Kea Project

Black logo vert textThis is a major initiative that Active Adventures is proud to be a part of. Kea are a protected bird, endemic to New Zealand, found in the alpine environments of our South Island. They're the world's only alpine parrot and studies have proven them to be one of the most intelligent birds (learn more about Kea here). Unfortunately, kea numbers are declining as they're facing ever-increasing threats from human-related activity, and predators. 

The Arthur's Pass area includes a national park, some local ski fields and a small alpine village nestled in the Southern Alps. The area is characterised by large scree slopes, steep gorges and wide braided rivers, which straddle the main divide, and are the ‘back bone’ of the South Island. Many visitors pass through this area when travelling from Christchurch on the east coast to the wild west coast. The area is a mecca for seeing kea, attracting thousands of New Zealand and international tourists each year specifically to see this clever bird.

The Arthur's Pass Kea Project aims to provide people with a better understanding of kea while also encouraging visitors to partake in kea population monitoring through 'citizen science' - ultimately contributing towards enhanced conservation of kea. There are three main parts to the programme:

1. A concerted kea banding programme to build up the number of kea that are banded in the greater Arthur’s Pass area (for monitoring and educational purposes)

2. Development of kea advocacy/educational material for new information display boards, a pamphlet fact sheet, as well as a website and mobile phone App so that visitors can learn more about kea in general, and about the specific birds that visit the Arthur’s Pass area

3. Establishing a system to capture kea monitoring information from the public and incorporation into the national kea database. Initially this will be via a form visitors can fill out and drop in a collection box or post back, then ultimately it will be through an app, making your contribution simple and easy. 

How to support the Kea Conservation Trust

 

 

180 Degrees Trust

180 Degrees TrustThe 180 Degrees Trust focuses on rehabilitating teenagers who have self-excluded from mainstream high schools or who have fallen by the wayside of life’s highway. The charitable trust, based in Canterbury, teaches compassion, interpersonal skills, communication skills and the ability to make informed decisions.They do this largely by utilising the wonderful and rugged Canterbury high country where they run multi-day camping trips - the students are challenged beyond their comfort zones and develop new skills, a sense of success and personal achievement. 

One of the defining events that the Trust runs is a Southern Alps Traverse, where they select a team of individuals from both their school and mentoring programs to complete the 243km trip from the West Coast to the East Coast of the South Island. The purpose of the Traverse is to physically and emotionally challenge the young people involved, so that they learn and demonstrate valuable life skills like goal setting, discipline and respect for others and the environment. 

When the team at Active learnt about the 180 Degrees Trust, and in particular the Southern Traverse trip, it was immediately obvious that there were some great synergies with the experiences that we deliver and the interests of our staff. Fast forward, and Active Adventures are now a proud sponsor and we are looking for other ways to contribute and be involved, such as providing assistance for the Trust's backcountry trips. 

How to support the 180 Degrees Trust

 

 

Other NZ initiatives

As you can imagine, we have a lot of outdoor equipment, such as tents, packs and sleeping bags. We upgrade this gear as necessary, to keep you nice and comfortable in the backcountry, and we donate our second hand equipment to schools in Christchurch. You could consider it an investment in our future Active Adventures guides!

Also, during the busy months we're operating many trips throughout New Zealand and whilst we plan our food requirements to 'military sophistication', we sometimes have a little leftover at the end of a tour. Our logistics team in Christchurch deliver this food, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as non perishable items to the Salvation Army.

Community involvement elsewhere

We began operating trips in Nepal in 2011 and from the beginning we've supported the Himalayan Trust, donating a portion of every trip to support the incredible work founded by Sir Edmund Hillary. In 2015 the Gorkha earthquake devastated numerous parts of Nepal, throwing the country into turmoil. Our trekking groups were extremely fortunate to be unscathed, though it has affected our team deeply. Prior to the earthquake, our senior trip leader Dan Keys, together with support from other Kiwi and Nepalese guides, founded Active Hearts Himalaya - a charity that began as a small token of appreciation for the kindness and generosity our Nepal friends have shown. Immediately following the earthquake the charity refocused to provide emergency relief to the communities where our Nepal team come from. 

Trip of a Lifetime!

“I am still basking in the glow from this remarkable trip! I admit that I was a bit nervous at first as I was the oldest person in our group and not as fit (for hiking) as some in the group, so I worried about 'keeping up' on the hikes - especially the steeper climbs. Ben and Lauren were very reassuring and encouraging and I felt that I was able to 'hold my own'. In fact, while the hiking was probably the most challenging I've done in at least 7 years, it was the most rewarding/exhilarating part for me. I loved our group - a very positive, health-conscious and fun group of people from all walks of life. It was also wonderful that we were only 12 people - it helped to create a much more intimate and personal atmosphere. I felt we bonded together well - again, thanks to Ben and Lauren's great skills with ice-breaking, fun games, and ability to set and maintain a positive atmosphere from the beginning.
From the moment we set off from the airport to the emotional farewells back at the airport at the end of the trip, this was a top notch adventure. Our transportation was comfortable, our accommodations were always different and unique and very comfortable - I loved that they weren't all in your standard hotel and that some of them were really off the beaten track. The food was amazing - from the snack basket in the van, loaded fresh every day with fruit and other snacks, to the amazing meals that Lauren and Ben created and the breakfasts and dinners that we had at various restaurants - there was a lot of variety, special dietary considerations were accounted for and there was lots of it!
I did the kayak option and it was outstanding. The B&B and our hosts were wonderful (the hot tub at the end of the day was most appealing!) and our kayak guide, Nick was terrific - very accommodating, skilled and he made it all very interesting and fun!
I cannot say enough about our incredible guides - Ben and Lauren - they truly moved the bar for me from a great trip to one that will go down in history for me as the trip of a lifetime. They were so knowledgeable about the island - I loved listening to the legends/folklore and learning more about the vegetation, birds, etc. Ben was a terrific driver - I always felt safe. Lauren was terrific with her cooking and meal presentations - meals looked fantastic and tasted even better! Both Ben and Lauren added those special touches from decorating the bus for the Christmas season, organizing our Secret Santa, making a fantastic Christmas morning breakfast, complete with Christmas crackers and special hats, managing extra logistics like re-booking the paragliding for us, setting up the helicopter tour, taking the time and effort to help reconnect people with items they had left behind either in our accommodations or on a hike/kayak. They even had the perfect music for when we went through the Homer Tunnel and down into Milford Sound - the combination of the music and the scenery was so moving it had several of us in tears! They really ensured that they got to know each person and took a genuine interest in each person. Their positive energy and enthusiasm was infectious. They took kindness and customer service to a new level! The scenery was breathtaking everywhere we went. It would be hard for me to say what the favourite part was or favourite view as the South Island is simply spectacular. I felt that the trip was organized in such a way that I really got a good feel and appreciation for the South Island. Truly New Zealand is one of the most beautiful places (both 'inside and out') that I have ever visited (and I've visited over 20 other countries around the world). I really loved the more laid-back way of life and the local people we met were so welcoming and kind. I would love to come back again and see the North Island but also re-visit the South Island!
I highly recommend this trip and have already suggested it to a number of my friends. It really was transformational for me on so many levels! My heartfelt thanks to Ben and Lauren and everyone at Active Adventures!”
Sue Hazell's Review Image
– Ontario, Canada
Rimu, January 2018
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Why travel with Active Adventures?

Legendary Kiwi Hospitality

Above all, we aim to be amazing hosts. We're proud of our kiwi roots, and our professional, warm and relaxed style of running trips around the world is unforgettable.

Expert LOCAL Guides & Trip Leaders

We're VERY picky about who we select to work in our team, and we have people from all over the world lining up to guide our trips. So we get to hire the absolute BEST in the business.

Everything is Included

As soon as you get off the plane, we've got all the details of your vacation covered – top notch meals, comfortable transport & accommodation, amazing guides and INCREDIBLE service.

A Sense of Achievement

Whether you’re new to adventure travel, or you’ve never travelled in a group before, you’ll find yourself arriving home positively different from when you left.

Small Groups

With our small groups (no more than 14), you'll get to know our team, your fellow travellers, and have the flexibility and freedom to do as much (or as little!) as you like.

Diverse Experiences

It's all about getting there under your own steam – on foot, in a sea kayak, or by bike. What better way is there to experience mind blowing scenery? If it's your first time, no worries – our expert guides have got you covered.

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