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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. 

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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


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

Trip Reviews

  4.52 out of 5 (from 4878 reviews)

Perfect Trip for anyone who loves Nature!

If you enjoy being outdoors and like to challenge yourself this trip is for you. I wasn't an avid hiker before signing up for the Rimu trip but after reading the itinerary I knew I couldn't pass up this amazing opportunity. You never know what you are capable of until you try and that is how I feel after climbing up to the Angelus Hut and hiking to Mueller ridge. I had never climbed a mountain before (since there are no mountains where I live) but the views are more than worth the climb.
This trip is the best way to see all that the South Island has to offer, it is the perfect balance between adventure, relaxation, self-exploration, and cultural immersion. Anyone can go to New Zealand and rent a car and go hiking, biking, and Kayaking; however, they will miss out on the best parts of traveling to a new place and that is the knowledge and culture that only someone who lives there would know. The guides (Tory and Vanessa) were awesome! Tory is an amazing cook, and Ness was great at making jokes and keeping the atmosphere cheery during the longer drives. I loved listening to the guides tell us about the Maori people and the local legends or folklore. I actually thought Ness was lying to me when she would tell me that the views get better after being left speechless by the scenery, but every day was better than the previous!
I have to mention the FOOD!!! The food alone is enough for me to sign up for this trip again. When I travel I don’t always know what the local food is or would be but with this trip the guides cook you all sorts of local food and all the food is fresh and delicious. If you don’t like something they will make sure to accommodate you.
Ness and Tory made you feel like this was a trip among friends and family, not strangers. I will come back to New Zealand again!
Brian Heinz Review Image
– Wisconsin, United States
Rimu, May 2017
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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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