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South Island

Home to the adventure capital of the world and unparalleled natural beauty

The South Island of New Zealand hardly needs an introduction - its reputation as an outdoor lover's paradise ensures its presence on many people's bucket lists. The South Island is divided north to south by an incredible mountain range, known as the Southern Alps. The Alps are responsible for the South Island's numerous unique climatic zones; from lush, temperate rainforest on the West Coast, to beech forests further inland, and the wide fertile plains on the East Coast. 

Of course, nature's diversity provides the ultimate playground, and there's a long history to all of our hiking trails, many of which were first developed by Maori and early settlers, being used for both recreation and access to gold, coal and jade mining. Nowadays we have over five hundred incredible hiking trails here in the South Island, of which nine of the most popular trails (including the Milford Track), have been developed into 'Great Walks'.

These 'Great Walks' have impressive backcountry facilities, they're very popular and hiking passes need to be booked well ahead of time during the high season. Now, these nine Great Walks deserve their fame, they're simply stunning and we experience most of them on our trips down this way... but unfortunately, what most visitors to New Zealand don't realise is that there are literally hundreds of other trails that take you to cosy backcountry huts, in equally as stunning surroundings, with slightly more rustic amenities, but without the crowds of hikers you might find on the Great Walks. It's these lesser-known trails that we locals stick to, in our eyes it's the best way to see New Zealand, and you'll get a truly unforgettable wilderness experience.

If this sounds like something you'll enjoy - you're keen to get off that beaten path and discover the more wild and remote parts of our great kiwi countryside, you'll find that not all of these spots are easily discovered on foot, which is why we like to sprinkle a bit of kayaking and biking into some of our itineraries. Our coastline offers world-class exploration by kayak, and the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage Area (all 2.6 million hectares!) has incredible fjords and lagoons to explore. Likewise, mountain biking is the perfect way to cover longer distances in a short amount of time, and under your own steam. In recent years the trail network in New Zealand has exploded, to the point where most locals can't even keep up with the new tracks on offer! 

There are two main gateways to the South Island; Christchurch, which is the midway point on the East Coast, and Queenstown, which is nestled on the edge of the Southern Alps, near the Southern end of the island. Both places have an international airport, though most of our trips start and finish in Christchurch, as it's the logical hub for a 2-week tour of the South Island. 

Rimu

Ultimate South Island Adventure - Rimu

14 Days  | 

South Island  | 

US$5499 + tax

4.53 out of 5 (from 5004 reviews)

We'll take you on an unforgettable journey exploring our mountains, coastlines and countryside, on foot, by bike and with a paddle in your hands. Experience our unique culture and wildlife along the way.

Winter Rimu

New Zealand Winter Adventure - Winter Rimu

14 Days  | 

South Island  | 

US$4599 + tax

4.64 out of 5 (from 565 reviews)

Visit New Zealand from May to September to hike quiet trails under crisp blue skies. You’ll be surrounded by stunning snow-clad mountains on this multi-sport adventure.

Kiwi

South Island Explorer - Kiwi

14 Days  | 

South Island  | 

US$5799 + tax

4.70 out of 5 (from 272 reviews)

Walk on some of our iconic New Zealand trails and take a cruise at Milford Sound. A great tour for those looking to take things at a relaxed pace.

Manuka

Milford Hiking Adventure - Manuka

14 Days  | 

South Island  | 

US$6399 + tax

4.44 out of 5 (from 919 reviews)

On this two week hiking adventure you’ll discover some of New Zealand’s Great Walks as well as lesser known hikes such as the Inland Pack Track on the wild West Coast.

Weka

New Zealand Biking Adventure - Weka

14 Days  | 

South Island  | 

US$5599 + tax

4.49 out of 5 (from 305 reviews)

Specifically designed for biking enthusiasts, this 14 day trip explores the very best off-road cycling trails, with a few iconic hikes thrown in for good measure.

Tui

Essence of the South Island - Tui

8 Days  | 

South Island  | 

US$3999 + tax

4.60 out of 5 (from 1902 reviews)

Short on time? On this adventure you’ll hike, bike, kayak, cruise and jet boat in some extraordinary parts of the South Island. You can combine this with our 5-day 'Kauri' to see both Islands in two weeks.

Kea

New Zealand Family Adventure - Kea

13 Days  | 

South Island  | 

Adult: US$4799 + tax , Child (15 & under): US$3999 + tax

4.69 out of 5 (from 248 reviews)

Join us on a family adventure that you can take year-round. Hike, kayak, raft and jet boat the South Island and visit a wildlife reserve to view kiwi, our national bird.

Takahe

Great Walks Discovery - Takahe

5 Days  | 

South Island  | 

US$2999 + tax

4.43 out of 5 (from 891 reviews)

If you're short on time and you'd like to experience some of New Zealand's Great Walks, this is the trip for you.

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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