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New Zealand Hiking Lingo

Billy Goat in the New Zealand BackcountryIf You're Going to Walk the Walk, You Gotta Talk the Talk. Although we speak English in New Zealand, Kiwi colloquialism can cause a bit of confusion sometimes.

  • You'll often hear us Kiwis referring to ‘tramps’ and ‘tramping’ in the context of our hiking tours and the outdoors. Contrary to the images this may conjure up, we're actually just talking about going out hiking or trekking, usually for several days at a time (otherwise you're just ‘going for a walk’).  
  • When a Kiwi says they're ‘going out for a walk, would you like to join them?’ you'd better be prepared because Kiwis notoriously play things down. So act cool, grab some snacks, water bottle, backpack and a jacket, because you could be out all day ‘walking’ up mountains rather than going for a leisurely stroll to the park!
  • Speaking of, Kiwis also have a tendency to downplay the steepness of a trail, at least by the standards of most people who weren't raised in the hills by billy goats. You can usually count on at least a few hills when a track is described as ‘flat’ and ‘undulating’ usually means more up than down.  
  • When we say ‘Queenstown's full of backpackers’ we're not necessarily referring to hikers. The act of ‘backpacking’ in New Zealand has morphed into much more than your typical freedom hiker. It usually connotes busloads of young travelers coming here to stay at hostels and thrill seek, couples and friends touring the country in rented campers or even retired couples cruising the country on a budget.
  • Going Bush’ is probably more of an Australian saying – conjuring the image of swathes of blue gum, shimmering heat and Koalas, with snakes around every bend… well almost. But the term ‘bush’ is alive and well here in New Zealand too to talk about the wilderness, especially amongst farmers and hunters when talking about hiking.
  • The ‘backcountry’ is certainly a popular Kiwi term and depending who you're speaking to, could refer to out-of-bounds ski slopes or the more remote parts of the country. Farmers who work on large farms may say they’re heading into the backcountry or the backblocks and if they're on one of the larger sheep stations (ie. a ranch), you can expect them to be gone all day or even overnight.

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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.

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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.

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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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