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Best Destinations & Attractions

The best places to visit in New Zealand. Come along, see it all!

If you're looking for the best natural destinations in New Zealand, you're in the right place. Kiwi's are passionate about their back yard, and believe that the best places to visit can't be seen from the window of a tour bus, but they're accessed on foot, behind handlebars, or with a paddle in hand.

So if you'd like to escape the crowds, discover the real New Zealand and get a great taste for kiwi culture and hospitalitly along the way - then read on for an introduction to the best places to visit when you're here. Take a look at which trips take you there, the best way to discover each destination, and see the best time to visit. 

If you can't find the answer to your questions here, then request a free brochure and tell us about your plans - we'd love to hear from you! Otherwise, give us a call or email us and we'll do our best to answer whatever query you might have. 

OUR TRIPS Get a Free New Zealand brochure

New Zealand's Top Destinations:

1. Milford Sound

Location: South Island
Highlights: Towering granite peaks, waterfalls, deep black waters, access point to the Milford Track.
Best time to visit: Year round.
Best way to see it: By kayak, as sun rises off the misty fjord.
Which trips go here: All New Zealand trips, excluding the 'Kauri'

  Milford Sound Kayaking with Active Adventures Large

2. The Milford Track

Location: South Island
Highlights: Towering granite peaks, ancient native forests, waterfalls, crystal clear rivers.
Best time to visit: Late October to late April.
Best way to see it: Hike from Lake Te Anau to Milford Sound. Finish the incredible hike with a boat cruise of the fjord. If you're lucky - your captain will nose the boat right into a waterfall, and keep an eye out for the local families of native fur seals and dolphins.
Which trips go here: 'Manuka' - Milford Hiking Quest

Hiking the Milford Track with Active Adventures Large

3. Nelson Lakes National Park

Location: South Island
Highlights: Off the tourist path, dramatic craggy mountains, tranquil beech forests, meadows of tussock, clear streams and stunning lakes.
Best time to visit: November through May.
Best way to see it: Hike from Saint Arnaud to Lake Head hut on day 1, Lake Head to Angelus Hut on day 2, Angelus hut back to the Mount Robert Road car park on day 3. 
Which trips go here: 'Rimu' - Ultimate South Island Explorer

Hike Nelson Lakes National Park with Active Adventures Large

4. Doubtful Sound

Location: South Island
Highlights: New Zealand's deepest fjord, similar to Milford - but less crowded, overnight cruise option
Best time to visit: The summer months - November through March.
Best way to see it: Take the overnight cruise option - it's a once in a lifetime opportunity to immerse yourself in such a peaceful and isolated part of the world.
Which trips go here:  'Manuka' - Milford Hiking Quest

  Doubtful Sound with Active Adventures Large

5. Fiordland National Park

Location: South Island
Highlights: Largest of New Zealand's 14 national parks. Access to Routeburn TrackKepler TrackMilford TrackMilford Sound.
Best time to visit: All year round.
Best way to see it: On foot, hike the great walks (check out the Great Walk Discovery on our ' Manuka' trip).
Which trips go here: All New Zealand trips, excluding the 'Kauri'

Visit Fiordland National Park with Active Adventures Large

6. The Tongariro Crossing

Location: North Island
Highlights: The world's greatest day hike, climb a live volcano, descend into lush native forest, stunning views of Emerald Lakes.
Best time to visit: All year round.
Best way to see it: Start at Mangatepopo car park and hike to Ketetahi car park. If you're feeling really adventurous, then take the hike and winter (ice axe and crampons are mandatory).
Which trips go here:  'Kauri'

  Hike the Tongariro Crossing with Active Adventures Large

7. The Wild West Coast

Location: South Island
Highlights: PunakaikiHokitikaFox GlacierFranz Josef GlacierOkarito Lagoon
Best time to visit: All year round.
Best way to see it: Hike the stunning Amazonian rainforests in Punakaiki and Franz Joseph. Hike or heli to the Fox and Franz Joseph glaciers, and sea kayak the picturesque Okarito Lagoon in the company of New Zealand's only white heron breeding colony.
Which trips go here: All New Zealand trips, excluding the 'Kauri'

  Discover the West Coast with Active Adventures large


OUR TRIPS Get a Free New Zealand brochure


Related articles:
Best time to visit New Zealand
What to do in New Zealand
Travelling to New Zealand

Trip Reviews

  •   4.39 out of 5 (from 1228 reviews)

    An Outstanding Time!

    The north island deserves more notice than it gets in the press. A different world than the south island, well worth any time you can give it.
    Lissa Jackson Review Image
    – Tennessee, United States
    Kauri, April 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 5004 reviews)

    Exceeded my Expectations. A Trip to Treasure.

    Active adventures provided an outstanding New Zealand experience. Our guides (Tory and Jordie) went above and beyond during our South Island Rimu trip. Their passion for the outdoors as well as the traditions and culture of NZ enhanced the two week journey. As guides, I was most impressed by their attention to detail and safety. I appreciated the warm smiles, gems of knowledge and yummy meals on even the challenging hike days. For my birthday, during the three day hike at Nelson Lakes National Park, Tory and Jordie surprised me with two delicious cakes to share with my new hiking family. A moment I will treasure, enhanced by the breath taking views of the alpine lake at Angelus Hut.

    The beauty of the country surpassed my expectations, particularly sites like Milford Sound and Mt. Cook. Such a diverse, lush landscape, each hike offered a unique perspective of the stunning views. Combined with the kayaking and biking options, allowed for an exciting and interesting mix. The highlight of my two weeks was my heli-hike on the Tasman Glacier, such an unforgettable experience.

    I'm looking forward to future Active Adventure trips, but will definitely keep a little piece of NZ in my heart. A truly bucket list destination.

    Gigi (from The Bahamas)
    Gigi Smith Review Image
    – West Virginia, United States
    Rimu, July 2017
  •   4.60 out of 5 (from 1902 reviews)

    Outstanding Adventure Vacation

    Our Active Adventures trip was outstanding! The entire process was a tremendous experience. Staff were responsive and friendly during the "sign up" phase. Our guides Jordie and Holly are two of the finest professional, friendly and knowledgeable guides we've had the pleasure to work with. Shout out for both of these wonderful people! They did a marvelous job managing group dynamics to ensure everyone was motivated and individual needs were met. Well trained and both have mastered the skillful art of quality customer service. Keep up the good work!
    Lilly Golden Review Image
    – Texas, United States
    Tui, July 2017
  •   4.39 out of 5 (from 1228 reviews)

    Excellent way to see New Zealand

    My husband and I went on the Kauri trip in November 2017. This trip had been on our bucket list for a while and we decided to go with Active Adventures as they were offering the type of travel and activities we wanted to do in New Zealand. Our two awesome guides, Andy (encyclopedia of knowledge) and Jo (excellent cook) made us feel at home and have shown us the beautiful country of NZ while ensuring everyone had fun. We had an amazing time on the North Island and I highly recommend this trip if you enjoy outdoor activities.
    Claire Barrette-Remy Review Image
    – Ontario, Canada
    Kauri, December 2017
  •   4.60 out of 5 (from 1902 reviews)

    Amazing Trip

    This trip was amazing - the hikes took us to beautiful vistas, the guides were knowledgeable and fun, and the food was never in short supply ("Food is Fuel!" as one of our guides kept restating).

    Koru and Kim were great guides throughout and everyone had so much fun! I was traveling solo but 2 of the other 4 on my trip were as well, so nobody was ever left out! Having such a small group made the activities much easier to enjoy.

    The hikes, like I mentioned, were truly unbelievable, though somewhat more difficult than I expected. Everything was talked as 'full-on' or by time, but know that NZ hikes are up mountains then back down, so work on hills more than distance before you go! Even some of the small walks we did (Blue Pools, only 5 minutes from the road & the Chasm, 10 minutes from the road) were breathtaking. Kayaking the Milford Sound was another once in a lifetime experience we got to have on this trip.

    The only thing I would have liked (and got jokingly by the end of the trip) were straight communication prior to the hikes about how long they were updates mid-hike about how much longer/further. There was one day with miscommunications leading me to think the hike would be another 3+ hours uphill (nearly inducing panic) but was really only 30 more minutes.

    Overall, I really loved this trip!
    Taylor Ceithaml Review Image
    – California, United States
    Tui, November 2016



Why travel with Active Adventures?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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