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Ultimate South Island Adventure

Rimu

4.52 out of 5 (from 4872 reviews)

  • 14 Days - From US$5299 + tax
  • 12 Days - From US$4999 + tax
  • 8 Days - From US$4199 + tax

Trip Introduction

Nat Geo Logo 2015This is our signature adventure and a great, outdoorsy way to see New Zealand. We’ve been fine-tuning this perennial favourite since 1996 and it’s simply an awesome trip. You’ll explore the most beautiful, famous and little-known places in the South Island – up close and personal – with legendary hospitality and our unsurpassed attention to detail. For a great way to see the North Island too, combine this trip with our 11-day 'Kauri' (5-day 'Kauri' options available).

Activity level: The ‘Rimu’ is one of our more adventurous trips, but has options to suit a wide range of ages and outdoor experience. Typically, hikes on the ‘Rimu’ trip range between two and five hours to complete, with longer hikes available on the multi-day option. If you think you’d prefer a more relaxed pace and shorter one to three hour hikes, we recommend checking out our ‘Kiwi’ trip. Please get in touch with us if you’d like to chat about the various options.

Highlights

Hike
Routeburn Track
Kepler Track
Punakaiki
Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park
West Coast beaches and rainforests
Franz Josef Glacier (with heli-hike option)
To a fur seal colony in Kaikoura

Choice of multi-day options ...
Wilderness hiking in Nelson Lakes National Park OR sea kayaking in Marlborough Sounds OR biking on Queen Charlotte Track

Bike
Te Araroa Track near Wanaka

Sea kayak
Milford Sound, Okarito Lagoon

Plus ...
Explore Queenstown

What's included in our NZ trips?

  • All guiding services
    - Two experienced guides per trip. In New Zealand you'll have a lead guide and a co guide. 
  • All accommodations
    - A range of hotels, lodges, chalets, inns, sheep stations and backcountry huts, depending on which trip you choose. 
  • All meals
    - Breakfast, lunch and dinner on all days, except where indicated on the itinerary (usually 1 day per trip is a free day, allowing you to choose your own dining location). 
  • All activities
    - Hiking, kayaking, biking, rafting, scenic flights, jet boating and more! 
  • All transport
    - Airport transfers.
    - When you're not travelling under your own steam, they'll be comfortable air-conditioned vans to stretch your legs.
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Interactive Trip Map

Daily itinerary

Day 1—Arrive, hike to a fur seal colony on the Kaikoura Peninsula

Most people leave the Northern Hemisphere on a Saturday evening, arriving in Auckland early Monday morning. You’ll lose a day crossing the dateline – but you get it back on the way home! It’s a short flight from Auckland to Christchurch on the South Island where we’ll meet you. We’ll start your trip by travelling up the coast to the seaside town of Kaikoura, where we’ll hike the scenic peninsula. Passing weathered limestone cliffs we’ll watch a colony of fur seals basking on the rocks and playing in the eddies, on a stretch of rugged coastline that was uplifted in the Kaikoura earthquake - it’s amazing to see this brand new land! Today is a relaxed introduction to New Zealand. Depending on where you’re coming from, you’ll probably find jetlag is no big deal. It’s a 12 to 13 hour direct overnight flight from the West Coast of the USA to Auckland and there’s only a 3 hour time difference between New Zealand and US Pacific time. If you’re coming from further afield, you’ll appreciate the gentle start to your New Zealand adventure.
Kaikoura Lodgings, Kaikoura (Lunch, Dinner)

Day 2 (morning)—Visit vineyard

From Kaikoura, we’ll travel along spectacular coastline for a couple of hours to Blenheim, a town in the Marlborough wine region. We’ll visit Forrest Estate Winery to sample some of their fantastic wines and have a picnic lunch before we head off for our various activities.

Day 2 (afternoon)—Start multi-day hiking, sea kayaking or mountain biking options

Hiking Option - Nelson Lakes National Park: The Angelus Circuit

Day 2 (afternoon) - Hike Angelus Circuit: Saint Arnaud to Lakehead Hut

Our hike begins in the charming village of Saint Arnaud, on the edge of Nelson Lakes National Park. This is serious wilderness country, with incredible views and marvellous solitude. The park straddles the upper Southern Alps, an area composed of beech forests, big lakes and even bigger mountains. We’ll hike the relatively gentle trail through the forest alongside Lake Rotoiti to Lakehead Hut, a small mountain cabin at the head of the lake and our home for the night. Our guides are pretty tough and they’ll carry the lion’s share of the load. All you’ll be carrying is a backpack with your sleeping bag, a few spare clothes, and a share of our food. To protect this beautiful and fragile environment, we always keep our group sizes small and our exact route flexible.

Lakehead Hut, Nelson Lakes National Park (All meals) 

Day 3 - Hike Angelus Circuit: Lakehead Hut to Angelus Hut

Today is an unforgettable day – the scenery gets better with each step! We follow the Travers River through beech forest, before heading up the Hukere Stream towards the ridgeline. This is a challenging hike, with an elevation gain of 1000 metres (3280 feet), but it’s absolutely worth it. The Angelus Circuit has exceptional scenic diversity, so it provides a great reward for the efforts you put in. There’s no rush and we’ll be there to encourage you the whole way. It’s a tremendous feeling at the top when you reach Angelus Hut, nestled beside a gorgeous alpine lake. Many people tell us this hidden gem was the highlight of their New Zealand adventure, and a lot of Kiwis prefer the Angelus Circuit to better-known tracks.
Angelus Hut, Nelson Lakes National Park (All meals)

Day 4 (morning) - Hike Angelus Circuit: Angelus Hut to Lake Rotoiti

Wake up on top of the world! After breakfast, we’ll hike out along the barren Robert Ridge with dramatic views of Tasman Bay and the mountainous Kahurangi National Park in the distance. We’ll descend below the treeline again into native beech forest completing our hike on the shores of Lake Rotoiti. Here, we’ll meet up with the kayakers and cyclists and share stories of our adventures, before carrying on to the West Coast.

Sea Kayaking Option - Marlborough Sounds (Add US$799 + tax)

Day 2 (afternoon) - Sea kayak Marlborough Sounds

After lunch, you’ll head to Ngakuta Bay in the Marlborough Sounds to begin three days of paddling in style. The waters are sheltered, meaning they are generally calm. The surrounding lush forest and rocky coastline are truly stunning. You’ll be kitted out comfortably in your sea kayak with all the necessary safety equipment for paddling. After a thorough safety briefing, you’ll head out with your specialist kayak guide for a gentle first day’s paddle to Tanglewood Lodge, with sparkling views of the surrounding Sounds. This multi-day option is quite flexible, so you don’t need any previous paddling experience, but if you are an experienced sea kayaker, we’ll certainly keep you challenged.

Tanglewood Lodge, Queen Charlotte Sound (All meals)

Day 3 - Sea kayak Marlborough Sounds

Today we’ll kayak around the secluded bays of the Kenepuru Sound. You can paddle at your own pace and we’ll make sure you get as much or as little ‘paddle time’ as you like! We’ll check out the beaches, birdlife and native forest that characterise the area and enjoy being out on the water. With a bit of luck, we’ll be visited by local dolphins, fur seals and little blue penguins (Eudyptula minor). You’ll also have plenty of time to stop for short beach and forest walks along the way.
Tanglewood Lodge, Queen Charlotte Sound (All meals)

Day 4 (morning) - Sea kayak Marlborough Sounds

This morning we’ll have another chance to spot wildlife as we paddle along the northern coastline from Anakiwa, in the Queen Charlotte Sound. We’ll then cross over the Sound and finish back in Ngakuta Bay, which will complete the round trip of the Grove Arm. This is where our sea kayaking ends, so after lunch in Picton we’ll meet up with the rest of the group in Saint Arnaud before carrying on to the West Coast.

Mountain Bike Option - Queen Charlotte Track (Add US$799 + tax)

Day 2 (afternoon) - Mountain bike Queen Charlotte Track

The third option to personalise your trip is to bike a portion of the Queen Charlotte Track, rated one of the best mountain biking tracks in New Zealand. After lunch, you’ll head to Anakiwa on the edge of Queen Charlotte Sound, where you’ll be fitted with a Specialized Rockhopper 29er mountain bike, perfect for single track riding. Today we’ll ride from Anakiwa to Onahau Bay lookout and back, a perfect taster of what’s to come! Tonight, we’ll stay at a cosy architecturally-designed lodge set amongst native tree ferns.
Tanglewood Lodge, Queen Charlotte Sound (All meals)

Day 3 - Mountain bike Queen Charlotte Track

Awaking to native birdsong, we’ll head out to Torea Saddle, where we will bike towards the Bay of Many Coves. This part of the track is known as ‘The Jewel in the Crown’ with stunning views of both Sounds. The area is also well known for its native beech forests, secluded golden beaches and birds, so it’s an amazing area to explore at handle-bar level.
Tanglewood Lodge, Queen Charlotte Sound (All meals)

Day 4 (morning) - Mountain bike Queen Charlotte Track

We’ll spend the morning biking on the Waikawa Mountain Bike Park near Picton. Later we’ll enjoy our lunch at the Picton Harbour before heading to Saint Arnaud to rejoin the hikers and carry on to the West Coast.

Day 4 (afternoon)—Finish multi-day backpacking, sea kayaking or mountain biking

After regrouping in Saint Arnaud, we’ll head across the Southern Alps to the West Coast – a dramatic and rugged coastline stretching 600 kilometres (372 miles), with a population of only 40,000 people. We’ll mingle with the ‘coasters’ tonight in the seaside village of Punakaiki, exchanging tales of our adventures over fish and chips at the local pub!

West Coast lodgings, Punakaiki (All meals)

Day 5—Hike Punakaiki Rainforest, explore Hokitika

We’ll spend the morning hiking the Inland Pack Track through temperate rainforest and limestone canyons, following in the footsteps of gold miners who established this trail over a century ago. While we’re in Punakaiki, we’ll also check out the famous Pancake Rocks and blowholes – aptly named limestone formations that have been sculpted through the relentless pounding of the Tasman Sea. Travelling along the scenic coastline, we’ll stretch our legs in Hokitika and check out local art galleries and pounamu-carving workshops (pounamu is Maori for jade), before carrying on to the township of Franz Josef where we’ll stay for the next couple of nights. Nestled in the rainforest-clad foothills of the Southern Alps, Franz Josef is the heart of New Zealand glacier country.
Rainforest Retreat, Franz Josef (All meals)

Day 6—Kayak Okarito Lagoon, hike coastal forest and beach

This morning we’ll take a short journey over to Okarito, a little-known beach community on the coast. We’ll take to the water in sea kayaks and glide along a picturesque lagoon, set against a stunning backdrop of snow-capped peaks. Okarito is home to the only native white heron colony in New Zealand, as well as a host of other interesting birds. Later we’ll walk through lush coastal forest to Three Mile Lagoon, and wander along the beautiful stony beach next to crashing waves. Later we’ll head back to Franz Josef where you’ll have the option to take another walk or relax in the hot tub, before enjoying a traditional Kiwi roast dinner.
Rainforest Retreat, Franz Josef (All meals)

Day 7—Hike near Franz Josef Glacier

With some 140 glaciers making their way down from the Southern Alps, this area is fittingly known as glacier country. Few sights equal the spectacle of two of these giant frozen rivers (Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers) imperceptibly grinding their way down through temperate rainforest to just 250 metres (820 feet) above sea level. We’ll spend most of the day near Franz Josef Glacier hiking up through the forest to either Alex Knob or Roberts Point, both of which give incredible views of the ice. These hikes can be inaccessible in wet weather, so we may opt to hike close to the terminal face of Fox Glacier, around Lake Matheson and to the Blue Pools near Haast Pass instead.

Optional Heli-hike (add US$350 + tax)

An outrageously scenic alternative to today’s hike is to heli-hike on Franz Josef Glacier itself. After being fitted with crampons, ice axes and so on, you’ll board a turbine helicopter and fly towards the highest peaks of the Southern Alps, landing on the glacier at 1300 metres (4265 feet) above sea level. Led by specialist glacier guides, you’ll hike through the grand ice formations of the glacier, checking out its crevasses, seracs and tunnels – no previous experience is required! The constant movement of the glacier means every day is different, so your guides will cut steps in the ice to make the most of the conditions. At the end of your hike on the ice, you’ll take another helicopter ride out of the mountains and back to civilisation.

The heli-hike is extremely popular, so we offer advance reservations with the helicopter operators and guiding company. At the time of booking, or up until one month before your trip, we can reserve a space for you, or you can leave your decision until the start of your trip and your guides will get you a spot if it’s available.

From Franz Josef, we’ll travel down the coast through lush forest and then inland to Makarora, a small village bordering Mt Aspiring National Park, with incredible views of the snow-capped mountains.
Makarora Lodgings, Makarora (All meals)

Day 8—Cycle Hawea River Trail

The landscape this morning changes rapidly from dense beech forest to semi-arid mountainous terrain. Arriving at Lake Hawea, we’ll take a scenic ride along the Hawea River Trail. This gently undulating track follows the Hawea and Clutha Rivers through the rugged Central Otago landscape to the charming lakeside town of Wanaka. Here we’ll stop for lunch before a short but dramatic journey over the Cardrona Saddle to Queenstown on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, our base for the next couple of days. You’ll sleep sweetly tonight at a lakefront hotel located in the heart of Queenstown.
Crowne Plaza Hotel, Queenstown (Breakfast, Lunch)

Day 9—Free day in Queenstown

Queenstown is the adventure capital of New Zealand (if not the world!) and all the comforts of civilisation are packed into this tiny resort town: restaurants galore, sidewalk cafés, stylish lounge bars, day spas and boutiques. You’ll also find incredible optional activities here including horse trekking, a gondola, kayaking, fishing, winery tours, hang gliding, mountain biking, bungy jumping, jet boating and skydiving, as well as some great hiking opportunities. Or you can just soak up the atmosphere or lounge about reading a book. Your guides will happily share their favourite haunts and point you in the right direction for your free day today.
Crowne Plaza Hotel, Queenstown (No meals included)

Day 10—Hike Routeburn Track

This morning, we set off for our largest and perhaps most spectacular national park, Fiordland. We’ll hike part of the Routeburn Track for unsurpassed views of the Hollyford Valley, as well as Lake Marian and Mt Christina. We’ll take a short drive through the Homer Tunnel and emerge at the top of a spectacular glacier-carved valley for a memorable descent to the shores of Milford Sound. Rudyard Kipling rated this fiord as the eighth natural wonder of the world and it is truly breathtaking, with steep granite walls plunging over a thousand metres to the Tasman Sea and waterfalls cascading into deep inky water. Tonight we’ll stay at Milford Lodge, to make the most of a wonderfully remote location.
Milford Lodge Chalets, Milford Sound (All meals)

Day 11—Sea kayak Milford Sound, hike Kepler Track

Most people see Milford Sound from the deck of a ship, but we’ve got a more active way – gliding along in sea kayaks, causing very little disruption for the best chance of getting up close and personal with the friendly fur seals and dolphins that are sometimes in the area. It’s an early start this morning, but the calm waters and peaceful solitude that you’ll enjoy out on the fiord, are well worth it. Fully kitted out in double sea kayaks and lead by a specialist kayak guide, the padding is equally suitable for beginners and experts alike. After kayaking, we’ll enjoy a tasty lunch before heading out to explore more of Fiordland’s wilderness on foot. This afternoon we’ll take a hike on the famous Kepler Track, one of New Zealand’s Great Walks - we follow the track through mountain beech forest and along the Waiau River. It’s an awesome hike with spectacular views! Tonight we’ll stay on the edge of Lake Manapouri, enjoying the scenery and the delicious local fare.

Lake Manapouri Inn, Manapouri (All meals)

Day 12—Visit Cromwell Old Town, journey over Lindis Pass

Carefully relocated or lovingly reconstructed, the buildings of Cromwell Old Town represent the character of Cromwell’s gold-mining history. We’ll explore the intriguing buildings and eat lunch here together. Afterwards we’ll drive through the tussock-country of Lindis Pass to Lake Pukaki, where we stay on Hamish and Julia McKenzie’s 5000 hectare high-country sheep farm, Braemar Station (station is the New Zealand word for a big ranch). While we’re here, we’ll stay in a farm cottage that was built for the sheep shearers. It’s a rustic little place with views that will knock your socks off – the biggest mountains in New Zealand piercing the sky on the far side of a gorgeous cobalt-blue lake. With no lights for miles around, the stars on a clear night are like nothing you’ve ever seen. Many of our travellers have told us this was one of their favourite places on the whole trip – just the place for your last couple of nights in New Zealand!
Shearers’ quarters, Braemar Station (Breakfast, Dinner)

Day 13—Hike Aoraki Mt Cook National Park

Mt Cook, named Aoraki or ‘cloud piercer’ by South Island Maori, is the highest mountain in New Zealand. Directly opposite the mountain, we have a stunning day hike to the main ridge above Mueller Glacier. It’s a challenging hike, but you’ll remember the view of the glacier and the surrounding peaks forever! The weather conditions are very important in this area, as it’s a true alpine climate notorious for sudden weather shifts. If we aren’t able to do the Mueller Glacier hike, or you’d like to take it a little easier, there’s an impressive hike up to a glacial lake (complete with icebergs!) at the base of the Hooker Glacier. Then we head back to Braemar Station for the last night of the ‘Rimu’. We’ll enjoy a celebratory dinner as we sit outside and watch the sun set on Aoraki Mt Cook.

Shearers’ quarters, Braemar Station (All meals)

Day 14—Depart for home

After breakfast we’ll head to Christchurch, arriving in time for afternoon flights. This is the end of your ‘Rimu’ trip and we’ll leave you refreshed and invigorated from the good food, exercise, rest, and great times you’ll have had with us in New Zealand! For a great way to see the North Island too, where you’ll experience Maori culture, pristine beaches and geothermal areas, you can combine this trip with our 11-day ‘Kauri’ (5-day ‘Kauri’ options available).

(Breakfast, Lunch)


Activity Key - zoom in to see activity detail

Hiking Biking Kayaking Boating Flying

Itinerary

Day 1 — Arrive, hike to a fur seal colony on the Kaikoura Peninsula

Most people leave the Northern Hemisphere on a Saturday evening, arriving in Auckland early Monday morning. You’ll lose a day crossing the dateline – but you get it back on the way home! It’s a short flight from Auckland to Christchurch on the South Island where we’ll meet you. We’ll start your trip by travelling up the coast to the seaside town of Kaikoura, where we’ll hike the scenic peninsula. Passing weathered limestone cliffs we’ll watch a colony of fur seals basking on the rocks and playing in the eddies, on a stretch of rugged coastline that was uplifted in the Kaikoura earthquake - it’s amazing to see this brand new land! Today is a relaxed introduction to New Zealand. Depending on where you’re coming from, you’ll probably find jetlag is no big deal. It’s a 12 to 13 hour direct overnight flight from the West Coast of the USA to Auckland and there’s only a 3 hour time difference between New Zealand and US Pacific time. If you’re coming from further afield, you’ll appreciate the gentle start to your New Zealand adventure.
Kaikoura Lodgings, Kaikoura (Lunch, Dinner)

Day 2 (morning) — Visit vineyard

From Kaikoura, we’ll travel along spectacular coastline for a couple of hours to Blenheim, a town in the Marlborough wine region. We’ll visit Forrest Estate Winery to sample some of their fantastic wines and have a picnic lunch before we head off for our various activities.

Day 2 (afternoon) — Start multi-day hiking, sea kayaking or mountain biking options

Hiking Option - Nelson Lakes National Park: The Angelus Circuit

Day 2 (afternoon) - Hike Angelus Circuit: Saint Arnaud to Lakehead Hut

Our hike begins in the charming village of Saint Arnaud, on the edge of Nelson Lakes National Park. This is serious wilderness country, with incredible views and marvellous solitude. The park straddles the upper Southern Alps, an area composed of beech forests, big lakes and even bigger mountains. We’ll hike the relatively gentle trail through the forest alongside Lake Rotoiti to Lakehead Hut, a small mountain cabin at the head of the lake and our home for the night. Our guides are pretty tough and they’ll carry the lion’s share of the load. All you’ll be carrying is a backpack with your sleeping bag, a few spare clothes, and a share of our food. To protect this beautiful and fragile environment, we always keep our group sizes small and our exact route flexible.

Lakehead Hut, Nelson Lakes National Park (All meals) 

Day 3 - Hike Angelus Circuit: Lakehead Hut to Angelus Hut

Today is an unforgettable day – the scenery gets better with each step! We follow the Travers River through beech forest, before heading up the Hukere Stream towards the ridgeline. This is a challenging hike, with an elevation gain of 1000 metres (3280 feet), but it’s absolutely worth it. The Angelus Circuit has exceptional scenic diversity, so it provides a great reward for the efforts you put in. There’s no rush and we’ll be there to encourage you the whole way. It’s a tremendous feeling at the top when you reach Angelus Hut, nestled beside a gorgeous alpine lake. Many people tell us this hidden gem was the highlight of their New Zealand adventure, and a lot of Kiwis prefer the Angelus Circuit to better-known tracks.
Angelus Hut, Nelson Lakes National Park (All meals)

Day 4 (morning) - Hike Angelus Circuit: Angelus Hut to Lake Rotoiti

Wake up on top of the world! After breakfast, we’ll hike out along the barren Robert Ridge with dramatic views of Tasman Bay and the mountainous Kahurangi National Park in the distance. We’ll descend below the treeline again into native beech forest completing our hike on the shores of Lake Rotoiti. Here, we’ll meet up with the kayakers and cyclists and share stories of our adventures, before carrying on to the West Coast.

Sea Kayaking Option - Marlborough Sounds (Add US$799 + tax)

Day 2 (afternoon) - Sea kayak Marlborough Sounds

After lunch, you’ll head to Ngakuta Bay in the Marlborough Sounds to begin three days of paddling in style. The waters are sheltered, meaning they are generally calm. The surrounding lush forest and rocky coastline are truly stunning. You’ll be kitted out comfortably in your sea kayak with all the necessary safety equipment for paddling. After a thorough safety briefing, you’ll head out with your specialist kayak guide for a gentle first day’s paddle to Tanglewood Lodge, with sparkling views of the surrounding Sounds. This multi-day option is quite flexible, so you don’t need any previous paddling experience, but if you are an experienced sea kayaker, we’ll certainly keep you challenged.

Tanglewood Lodge, Queen Charlotte Sound (All meals)

Day 3 - Sea kayak Marlborough Sounds

Today we’ll kayak around the secluded bays of the Kenepuru Sound. You can paddle at your own pace and we’ll make sure you get as much or as little ‘paddle time’ as you like! We’ll check out the beaches, birdlife and native forest that characterise the area and enjoy being out on the water. With a bit of luck, we’ll be visited by local dolphins, fur seals and little blue penguins (Eudyptula minor). You’ll also have plenty of time to stop for short beach and forest walks along the way.
Tanglewood Lodge, Queen Charlotte Sound (All meals)

Day 4 (morning) - Sea kayak Marlborough Sounds

This morning we’ll have another chance to spot wildlife as we paddle along the northern coastline from Anakiwa, in the Queen Charlotte Sound. We’ll then cross over the Sound and finish back in Ngakuta Bay, which will complete the round trip of the Grove Arm. This is where our sea kayaking ends, so after lunch in Picton we’ll meet up with the rest of the group in Saint Arnaud before carrying on to the West Coast.

Mountain Bike Option - Queen Charlotte Track (Add US$799 + tax)

Day 2 (afternoon) - Mountain bike Queen Charlotte Track

The third option to personalise your trip is to bike a portion of the Queen Charlotte Track, rated one of the best mountain biking tracks in New Zealand. After lunch, you’ll head to Anakiwa on the edge of Queen Charlotte Sound, where you’ll be fitted with a Specialized Rockhopper 29er mountain bike, perfect for single track riding. Today we’ll ride from Anakiwa to Onahau Bay lookout and back, a perfect taster of what’s to come! Tonight, we’ll stay at a cosy architecturally-designed lodge set amongst native tree ferns.
Tanglewood Lodge, Queen Charlotte Sound (All meals)

Day 3 - Mountain bike Queen Charlotte Track

Awaking to native birdsong, we’ll head out to Torea Saddle, where we will bike towards the Bay of Many Coves. This part of the track is known as ‘The Jewel in the Crown’ with stunning views of both Sounds. The area is also well known for its native beech forests, secluded golden beaches and birds, so it’s an amazing area to explore at handle-bar level.
Tanglewood Lodge, Queen Charlotte Sound (All meals)

Day 4 (morning) - Mountain bike Queen Charlotte Track

We’ll spend the morning biking on the Waikawa Mountain Bike Park near Picton. Later we’ll enjoy our lunch at the Picton Harbour before heading to Saint Arnaud to rejoin the hikers and carry on to the West Coast.

Day 4 (afternoon) — Finish multi-day backpacking, sea kayaking or mountain biking

After regrouping in Saint Arnaud, we’ll head across the Southern Alps to the West Coast – a dramatic and rugged coastline stretching 600 kilometres (372 miles), with a population of only 40,000 people. We’ll mingle with the ‘coasters’ tonight in the seaside village of Punakaiki, exchanging tales of our adventures over fish and chips at the local pub!

West Coast lodgings, Punakaiki (All meals)

Day 5 — Hike Punakaiki Rainforest, explore Hokitika

We’ll spend the morning hiking the Inland Pack Track through temperate rainforest and limestone canyons, following in the footsteps of gold miners who established this trail over a century ago. While we’re in Punakaiki, we’ll also check out the famous Pancake Rocks and blowholes – aptly named limestone formations that have been sculpted through the relentless pounding of the Tasman Sea. Travelling along the scenic coastline, we’ll stretch our legs in Hokitika and check out local art galleries and pounamu-carving workshops (pounamu is Maori for jade), before carrying on to the township of Franz Josef where we’ll stay for the next couple of nights. Nestled in the rainforest-clad foothills of the Southern Alps, Franz Josef is the heart of New Zealand glacier country.
Rainforest Retreat, Franz Josef (All meals)

Day 6 — Kayak Okarito Lagoon, hike coastal forest and beach

This morning we’ll take a short journey over to Okarito, a little-known beach community on the coast. We’ll take to the water in sea kayaks and glide along a picturesque lagoon, set against a stunning backdrop of snow-capped peaks. Okarito is home to the only native white heron colony in New Zealand, as well as a host of other interesting birds. Later we’ll walk through lush coastal forest to Three Mile Lagoon, and wander along the beautiful stony beach next to crashing waves. Later we’ll head back to Franz Josef where you’ll have the option to take another walk or relax in the hot tub, before enjoying a traditional Kiwi roast dinner.
Rainforest Retreat, Franz Josef (All meals)

Day 7 — Hike near Franz Josef Glacier

With some 140 glaciers making their way down from the Southern Alps, this area is fittingly known as glacier country. Few sights equal the spectacle of two of these giant frozen rivers (Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers) imperceptibly grinding their way down through temperate rainforest to just 250 metres (820 feet) above sea level. We’ll spend most of the day near Franz Josef Glacier hiking up through the forest to either Alex Knob or Roberts Point, both of which give incredible views of the ice. These hikes can be inaccessible in wet weather, so we may opt to hike close to the terminal face of Fox Glacier, around Lake Matheson and to the Blue Pools near Haast Pass instead.

Optional Heli-hike (add US$350 + tax)

An outrageously scenic alternative to today’s hike is to heli-hike on Franz Josef Glacier itself. After being fitted with crampons, ice axes and so on, you’ll board a turbine helicopter and fly towards the highest peaks of the Southern Alps, landing on the glacier at 1300 metres (4265 feet) above sea level. Led by specialist glacier guides, you’ll hike through the grand ice formations of the glacier, checking out its crevasses, seracs and tunnels – no previous experience is required! The constant movement of the glacier means every day is different, so your guides will cut steps in the ice to make the most of the conditions. At the end of your hike on the ice, you’ll take another helicopter ride out of the mountains and back to civilisation.

The heli-hike is extremely popular, so we offer advance reservations with the helicopter operators and guiding company. At the time of booking, or up until one month before your trip, we can reserve a space for you, or you can leave your decision until the start of your trip and your guides will get you a spot if it’s available.

From Franz Josef, we’ll travel down the coast through lush forest and then inland to Makarora, a small village bordering Mt Aspiring National Park, with incredible views of the snow-capped mountains.
Makarora Lodgings, Makarora (All meals)

Day 8 — Cycle Hawea River Trail

The landscape this morning changes rapidly from dense beech forest to semi-arid mountainous terrain. Arriving at Lake Hawea, we’ll take a scenic ride along the Hawea River Trail. This gently undulating track follows the Hawea and Clutha Rivers through the rugged Central Otago landscape to the charming lakeside town of Wanaka. Here we’ll stop for lunch before a short but dramatic journey over the Cardrona Saddle to Queenstown on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, our base for the next couple of days. You’ll sleep sweetly tonight at a lakefront hotel located in the heart of Queenstown.
Crowne Plaza Hotel, Queenstown (Breakfast, Lunch)

Day 9 — Free day in Queenstown

Queenstown is the adventure capital of New Zealand (if not the world!) and all the comforts of civilisation are packed into this tiny resort town: restaurants galore, sidewalk cafés, stylish lounge bars, day spas and boutiques. You’ll also find incredible optional activities here including horse trekking, a gondola, kayaking, fishing, winery tours, hang gliding, mountain biking, bungy jumping, jet boating and skydiving, as well as some great hiking opportunities. Or you can just soak up the atmosphere or lounge about reading a book. Your guides will happily share their favourite haunts and point you in the right direction for your free day today.
Crowne Plaza Hotel, Queenstown (No meals included)

Day 10 — Hike Routeburn Track

This morning, we set off for our largest and perhaps most spectacular national park, Fiordland. We’ll hike part of the Routeburn Track for unsurpassed views of the Hollyford Valley, as well as Lake Marian and Mt Christina. We’ll take a short drive through the Homer Tunnel and emerge at the top of a spectacular glacier-carved valley for a memorable descent to the shores of Milford Sound. Rudyard Kipling rated this fiord as the eighth natural wonder of the world and it is truly breathtaking, with steep granite walls plunging over a thousand metres to the Tasman Sea and waterfalls cascading into deep inky water. Tonight we’ll stay at Milford Lodge, to make the most of a wonderfully remote location.
Milford Lodge Chalets, Milford Sound (All meals)

Day 11 — Sea kayak Milford Sound, hike Kepler Track

Most people see Milford Sound from the deck of a ship, but we’ve got a more active way – gliding along in sea kayaks, causing very little disruption for the best chance of getting up close and personal with the friendly fur seals and dolphins that are sometimes in the area. It’s an early start this morning, but the calm waters and peaceful solitude that you’ll enjoy out on the fiord, are well worth it. Fully kitted out in double sea kayaks and lead by a specialist kayak guide, the padding is equally suitable for beginners and experts alike. After kayaking, we’ll enjoy a tasty lunch before heading out to explore more of Fiordland’s wilderness on foot. This afternoon we’ll take a hike on the famous Kepler Track, one of New Zealand’s Great Walks - we follow the track through mountain beech forest and along the Waiau River. It’s an awesome hike with spectacular views! Tonight we’ll stay on the edge of Lake Manapouri, enjoying the scenery and the delicious local fare.

Lake Manapouri Inn, Manapouri (All meals)

Day 12 — Visit Cromwell Old Town, journey over Lindis Pass

Carefully relocated or lovingly reconstructed, the buildings of Cromwell Old Town represent the character of Cromwell’s gold-mining history. We’ll explore the intriguing buildings and eat lunch here together. Afterwards we’ll drive through the tussock-country of Lindis Pass to Lake Pukaki, where we stay on Hamish and Julia McKenzie’s 5000 hectare high-country sheep farm, Braemar Station (station is the New Zealand word for a big ranch). While we’re here, we’ll stay in a farm cottage that was built for the sheep shearers. It’s a rustic little place with views that will knock your socks off – the biggest mountains in New Zealand piercing the sky on the far side of a gorgeous cobalt-blue lake. With no lights for miles around, the stars on a clear night are like nothing you’ve ever seen. Many of our travellers have told us this was one of their favourite places on the whole trip – just the place for your last couple of nights in New Zealand!
Shearers’ quarters, Braemar Station (Breakfast, Dinner)

Day 13 — Hike Aoraki Mt Cook National Park

Mt Cook, named Aoraki or ‘cloud piercer’ by South Island Maori, is the highest mountain in New Zealand. Directly opposite the mountain, we have a stunning day hike to the main ridge above Mueller Glacier. It’s a challenging hike, but you’ll remember the view of the glacier and the surrounding peaks forever! The weather conditions are very important in this area, as it’s a true alpine climate notorious for sudden weather shifts. If we aren’t able to do the Mueller Glacier hike, or you’d like to take it a little easier, there’s an impressive hike up to a glacial lake (complete with icebergs!) at the base of the Hooker Glacier. Then we head back to Braemar Station for the last night of the ‘Rimu’. We’ll enjoy a celebratory dinner as we sit outside and watch the sun set on Aoraki Mt Cook.

Shearers’ quarters, Braemar Station (All meals)

Day 14 — Depart for home

After breakfast we’ll head to Christchurch, arriving in time for afternoon flights. This is the end of your ‘Rimu’ trip and we’ll leave you refreshed and invigorated from the good food, exercise, rest, and great times you’ll have had with us in New Zealand! For a great way to see the North Island too, where you’ll experience Maori culture, pristine beaches and geothermal areas, you can combine this trip with our 11-day ‘Kauri’ (5-day ‘Kauri’ options available).

(Breakfast, Lunch)

Dates

Trip Date Price Status  
Sep 24, 2018 – Oct 07, 2018 US$5299 + tax Filling up Check Availability
Oct 01, 2018 – Oct 14, 2018 US$5299 + tax Great Check Availability
Oct 08, 2018 – Oct 21, 2018 US$5299 + tax Filling up Check Availability
Oct 15, 2018 – Oct 28, 2018 US$5299 + tax Filling up Check Availability
Oct 22, 2018 – Nov 04, 2018 US$5299 + tax Filling up Check Availability
Oct 29, 2018 – Nov 11, 2018 US$5299 + tax Almost Full - Check Now! Check Availability
Nov 02, 2018 – Nov 15, 2018 US$5299 + tax Full Check Availability
Nov 05, 2018 – Nov 18, 2018 US$5299 + tax Almost Full - Check Now! Check Availability
Nov 12, 2018 – Nov 25, 2018 US$5299 + tax Almost full Check Availability
Nov 19, 2018 – Dec 02, 2018 US$5299 + tax Almost full Check Availability
Nov 26, 2018 – Dec 09, 2018 US$5299 + tax Almost Full - Check Now! Check Availability
Dec 03, 2018 – Dec 16, 2018 US$5599 + tax Filling up Check Availability
Dec 10, 2018 – Dec 23, 2018 US$5599 + tax Almost full Check Availability
Dec 17, 2018 – Dec 30, 2018 US$5599 + tax Almost Full - Check Now! Check Availability
Dec 24, 2018 – Jan 06, 2019 US$5599 + tax Almost Full - Check Now! Check Availability
Dec 31, 2018 – Jan 13, 2019 US$5599 + tax Almost Full - Check Now! Check Availability
2019
Jan 07, 2019 – Jan 20, 2019 US$5599 + tax Filling up Check Availability
Jan 14, 2019 – Jan 27, 2019 US$5599 + tax Filling up Check Availability
Jan 21, 2019 – Feb 03, 2019 US$5599 + tax Filling up Check Availability
Jan 28, 2019 – Feb 10, 2019 US$5599 + tax Great Check Availability
Feb 04, 2019 – Feb 17, 2019 US$5599 + tax Filling up Check Availability
Feb 11, 2019 – Feb 24, 2019 US$5599 + tax Almost full Check Availability
Feb 18, 2019 – Mar 03, 2019 US$5599 + tax Filling up Check Availability
Feb 25, 2019 – Mar 10, 2019 US$5599 + tax Filling up Check Availability
Mar 04, 2019 – Mar 17, 2019 US$5299 + tax Almost full Check Availability
Mar 11, 2019 – Mar 24, 2019 US$5299 + tax Filling up Check Availability
Mar 18, 2019 – Mar 31, 2019 US$5299 + tax Great Check Availability
Mar 25, 2019 – Apr 07, 2019 US$5299 + tax Great Check Availability
Apr 08, 2019 – Apr 21, 2019 US$5299 + tax Great Check Availability
Apr 22, 2019 – May 05, 2019 US$5299 + tax Great Check Availability
Sep 23, 2019 – Oct 06, 2019 US$5299 + tax Great Check Availability
Sep 30, 2019 – Oct 13, 2019 US$5299 + tax Great Check Availability
Oct 07, 2019 – Oct 20, 2019 US$5299 + tax Great Check Availability
Oct 14, 2019 – Oct 27, 2019 US$5299 + tax Great Check Availability
Oct 21, 2019 – Nov 03, 2019 US$5299 + tax Great Check Availability
Oct 28, 2019 – Nov 10, 2019 US$5299 + tax Filling up Check Availability
Nov 04, 2019 – Nov 17, 2019 US$5299 + tax Great Check Availability
Nov 11, 2019 – Nov 24, 2019 US$5299 + tax Filling up Check Availability
Nov 18, 2019 – Dec 01, 2019 US$5299 + tax Great Check Availability
Nov 25, 2019 – Dec 08, 2019 US$5299 + tax Filling up Check Availability
Dec 02, 2019 – Dec 15, 2019 US$5599 + tax Great Check Availability
Dec 09, 2019 – Dec 22, 2019 US$5599 + tax Great Check Availability
Dec 16, 2019 – Dec 29, 2019 US$5599 + tax Great Check Availability
Dec 23, 2019 – Jan 05, 2020 US$5599 + tax Filling up Check Availability
Dec 30, 2019 – Jan 12, 2020 US$5599 + tax Great Check Availability
2020
Jan 06, 2020 – Jan 19, 2020 US$5599 + tax Great Check Availability
Jan 13, 2020 – Jan 26, 2020 US$5599 + tax Great Check Availability
Jan 20, 2020 – Feb 02, 2020 US$5599 + tax Great Check Availability
Jan 27, 2020 – Feb 09, 2020 US$5599 + tax Great Check Availability
Feb 03, 2020 – Feb 16, 2020 US$5599 + tax Great Check Availability
Feb 10, 2020 – Feb 23, 2020 US$5599 + tax Great Check Availability
Feb 17, 2020 – Mar 01, 2020 US$5599 + tax Great Check Availability
Feb 24, 2020 – Mar 08, 2020 US$5599 + tax Great Check Availability
Mar 02, 2020 – Mar 15, 2020 US$5299 + tax Great Check Availability
Mar 09, 2020 – Mar 22, 2020 US$5299 + tax Great Check Availability
Mar 16, 2020 – Mar 29, 2020 US$5299 + tax Filling up Check Availability
Mar 23, 2020 – Apr 05, 2020 US$5299 + tax Great Check Availability
Apr 06, 2020 – Apr 19, 2020 US$5299 + tax Great Check Availability
Apr 20, 2020 – May 03, 2020 US$5299 + tax Great Check Availability

Useful Info

No Forced Single Supplement:

Most other travel companies charge all solo travellers a single supplement fee. We don't! When it comes to accommodation, our trip fares are based on a twin-share rate, which means we'll match you up with another person of the same gender to share a room with. If there's no one suitable to share with, there's no forced single supplement! Having said that, if you specifically request your own room, you can opt to pay the additional single supplement fee. 

Trip Start:

On the first day of the trip we can either pick you up from the Heartland Hotel Cotswold in Christchurch at 10.30am, or at Christchurch airport in front of the Travel and Information desk at 11am.

Trip End:

On the last day of the trip we can drop you off at the Christchurch airport in time for the flights below, or anywhere in central Christchurch about 3pm.

Recommended flights:

Arrival: If you’re flying in on the first day of the trip, we recommend arriving in Christchurch before 10am on Monday.
Departure: Flying out on the last day of the trip, we recommend departing from Christchurch after 4pm on Sunday. If you are considering alternative flight times please check with us. International flights from Auckland usually leave early evening, so if you’re heading back to North America, you’ll get home some time on Sunday, even though you left on Sunday evening! Flights back to Europe, of course, take a little longer.

Fitness:

The ‘Rimu’ is one of our more adventurous trips, and has options to suit a wide range of fitness levels and outdoor experience. If you keep reasonably active and like to give things a go, you’re likely to enjoy the trip much more. If you’re used to pushing yourself, we’ll keep you challenged as well. Typically, hikes on the ‘Rimu’ trip range between two and five hours to complete, more, or less hiking is available depending on your multi-day option. If you think you’d prefer a more relaxed pace and shorter hikes, we recommend checking out our ‘Kiwi’ trip. Please get in touch with us if you’d like to chat about the various options.

Reviews

  • It Lived Up To My Expectations!

    “I've wanted to see New Zealand for 30 years. It lived up to my expectations.”
    Marianne Denniston – Georgia, United StatesMay 2018
  • Rimu New Zealand

    “What an amazing way to visit New Zealand. Lot's of driving but well worth it and was able to see most of the South Island. Hiking was amazing as well as the kayaking at Milford Sound. The guides, Carrie and Koru were both amazing and very patient with all of us. Places that we stayed were all very nice and the weather we had was amazing!”
    Brigitte Rosson – Texas, United StatesMay 2018
  • Maximum Use of Vacation Time

    “Love the fact that every day there was so much to see and do in the great outdoors of New Zealand! The guides were not only tons of fun but also very knowledgeable about their awesome country. They knew how to efficiently revise the schedule when weather interfered such that every day was seamless from morning to night. Loved the fact the guides prepared healthy meals whenever it was necessary to keep to a time schedule. Would love to return again to take in the areas where mother nature's rainstorms impacted our ability to safely hike into some areas. Recommend this trip to anyone who loves being active!”
    Joan Berkowitz – Washington, United StatesMay 2018
  • Could Not Have Asked For A Better Holiday!

    “This trip was so amazing, that I did not know how badly I needed it until it was over and I returned home. New Zealand is a beautiful country and it was almost overwhelming how much we were able to see and explore in just two short weeks. Our guides were superb and challenged the scenery for title of best part of the trip. ”
    Justin Sheldon – Washington, United StatesMay 2018
  • Wildest Dreams!

    “The entire trip was beyond my wildest dreams. From the spectacular beauty of the country, the fabulous accommodations, the hiking adventures and our two awesome tour guides Ashleigh and Lauren. I did not want to leave the country and hope to be back for another breathtaking adventure in New Zealand with Active Adventures. ”
    Annette Hollingsworth – Texas, United StatesMay 2018
  • Active Adventure Sums it Up!

    “The company name pretty much sums up this trip "Active"! This adventure provides an excellent overview of the South island's geography, history and culture. Activities are diverse, varied and interesting. The full day schedules are extremely rewarding. Can't think of a better way to experience the South Island.”
    Bob Wigmore – British Columbia, CanadaMarch 2018
  • Awesome Group Travel

    “The scenery was great and we definitely were active but one of the best parts of the trip was the warm social interaction with my fellow travelers as well as our guides. It was great having a driver who knew the roads and allowed me to enjoy the views. One word of advice. The lushness of western NZ is due to lots of rain. Be prepared with a good rain suit and waterproof boots. The weather changes quickly and is part of the adventure. You will be experiencing nature up close and personal. Enjoy.”
    Joe Schneeweis – Minnesota, United StatesMarch 2018
  • New Zealand Adventure

    “Great trip. Katie and Tess (our guides) made the trip very memorable. ”
    Peter Landini – California, United StatesMarch 2018
  • New Zealand the Right Way

    “New Zealand has long been on the top of my active vacation list. Having hiked a lot in the Swiss Alps - including Active Adventures' first Mt. Blanc trip - and kayaked in Vancouver Islands, the allure of New Zealand's famed treks and fiords was strong. Active's 'Rimu' trip was the perfect way to experience New Zealand's grandeur. From kayaking in the pristine Okarito Lagoon with its beautiful white herons to hiking part of the Routeburn Track to Key Summit, the 'Rimu' is a wonderful two-week journey.”
    Tom Metzloff – North Carolina, United StatesMarch 2018
  • Fun and Challenging Trip

    “The southbound Rimu trip was a fun and challenging trip. Active Adventures took care of all of the tough logistics and treated us with supreme Kiwi hospitality. Each day was planned with meals, transportation and our unique daily adventure. Our guides, Ash and Astrid were informative and always had a smile on their face even when our boisterous American and Aussie group were making fun of their Kiwi accents. The Mount Cook and Angelus hut hikes were especially satisfying climbs. We certainly slept well those nights! Astrid prepared our vegetarian meals with aplomb and I ended up gaining 6 pounds during the 14 days. Well done Astrid! Ashley drove our van, Willy, with great care and we never worried about our safety while in her care. She is a master backer-upper. She also filled our heads with facts and figures as we toured through the different New Zealand regions. This was our first time in New Zealand and every Kiwi we met was very friendly and proud of their country. Our appetite is only whetted and we will return again to your beautiful country.”
    Chad Bearden – Florida, United StatesMarch 2018
  • The Long Expected Trip

    “In 2012, when I learned that Peter Jackson was going to build the set of The Shire with permanent materials, I knew that it was time for me to go to New Zealand. I was 8 when "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" was released in theaters, and since then I have grown up with both the movies and J.R.R. Tolkien's books. These stories became very dear to me and New Zealand became (and always will be) Middle-earth. I have always wanted to visit NZ, but I never knew how or when that would happen. The deciding moment came in 2012. I saw my chance to visit an "actual" piece of Middle-earth. But I also wanted to experience New Zealand apart from the tourist spots. I wanted to explore and see NZ not just for it's role in the films but because of it's unique, natural beauty. So I went to Google to see what I could find that would satisfy my wish to see New Zealand. I forget the exact phrase I searched, but I know that Active Adventures was the first result. It was meant to be. Within days after exploring the site, I received a call from a representative named Matthew and we started talking about my trip. I was still in college at the time and explained that I would have to wait 5 years before I could go. It was a nice chat and I was reassured that New Zealand would still be there in 5 years. But 5 years is a long time, and although I was making plans, my trip seemed like a far off dream.
    But before I knew it, I was packing for New Zealand. By this time, my trip had evolved into 2 Active Adventure trips and 12 days on my own to explore places like Wellington and Matamata. I completed my degree and now it was time to begin a new chapter of my life. A month-long trip to New Zealand was a perfect start.
    It's hard to put into words how much I enjoyed this trip - incredible, terrific, amazing, life-changing...these sentiments don't seem to encompass how much this trip meant to me. I waited 5 long years, working and studying, and saving for this trip-of-a-lifetime. I could not ask for a better tour group than Active Adventures. The group was just the right size; the guides were friendly, cheerful, knowledgeable, and made sure I got the most out of my time in New Zealand. The food was amazing - I'll definitely be recreating the recipes at home. Having never really done intense hiking before, I've discovered a love for hiking in New Zealand. There were some trails that I though I wouldn't be able to complete, like the Angelus Circuit, but I did it! And I'd do the hikes again. I got so much out of traveling with Active Adventures that I will be looking for similar adventures of my own when spring comes along at home. It's hard to believe my trip is finished. I've waited for so long and worked so hard to get to New Zealand...where did the time go? I have memories to last a lifetime and photos and stories to remind me of where I've been. Though I will explore the world, I know that I'll be returning to New Zealand again and again. Active Adventures allowed me to see the incredible country they call home, and I'd be lying if I said that NZ hasn't become a home-away-from-home to me. I will never forget this trip.”
    Megan McDermott – Pennsylvania, United StatesFebruary 2018
  • Holiday Trip 2018

    “Our guides Ken and Carrie were great! We had a wonderful time with all the activities and the variety of experiences was perfect.”
    Todd Goatley-Seals – Nevada, United StatesFebruary 2018
  • A Great Taste of the South Island

    “It's obvious that the Rimu Tour has been tuned to perfection over time. The venues are wonderful and the food is excellent (thank you Mel!). Many hours in the bus, but that was to be expected given the breadth of coverage. I'd highly recommend this tour without hesitation!”
    Doug Pierson – Massachusetts, United StatesFebruary 2018
  • NZ Alps and surrounding region: what a great place!

    “The much wilder South Island was a great place to visit, despite the weather which was for some days awful, notably on the West Coast (rain, wind, fog, snow). Incredible choice of outdoor activity, the highlight being the kayaking (with heavy rain) in Milford Sound as well as the hiking to Franz-Josef Glacier (hail did not allow us to complete it).”
    Ivo Bergamo Andreis Cesarini Sforza – TN, ItalyJanuary 2018
  • Great trip. Fantastic guides.

    “The guides were perfect. We kept a brisk pace and covered a lot of ground beside beautiful country.”
    Braden Pollock – California, United StatesJanuary 2018
  • Nice job

    “Well organized, super friendly guides, saw gorgeous scenery.”
    Lisa Bloom – California, United StatesJanuary 2018
  • Rimu - South Island

    “Great trip, full of discoveries away from big city centers, the kind of adventure nature lovers will appreciate to the fullest. We had a great two weeks of travelling through the real NZ landscaping natural beauty and 14 days is not enough to see or do everything. We enjoyed hiking, kayaking, biking, swimming in pristine water, caving, always surrounded by super guides who made us feel in goods hands at all time. ”
    Claude Remy – Ontario, CanadaDecember 2017
  • Rimu - Awesome South Island trip!

    “This trip is really a great way to experience the true beauty of the South Island. We hiked in beautiful areas with spectacular views, biked the Te Araroa track and sea kayaked in Milford Sound and in the Okarito Lagoon. Our guides, Ben and Emma, were absolutely great! They were cheerful, caring and attentive to our needs. They kept us well fed all along the trip even while hiking in remote areas with minimal cooking facilities. Accommodations were great and representative of the visited area. Thanks to one of our travel companions, we had magnificent weather for the trip duration… we cannot have asked for better temperatures.”
    Claire Barrette-Remy – Ontario, CanadaDecember 2017
  • Great New Zealand Adventure

    “Active Adventures provided a well rounded and action packed vacation. The guides, Simon and Maddie, were fully committed to the attention of their guest.”
    Ro Bradley – Michigan, United StatesDecember 2017
  • Outstanding Trip!!

    “This trip was especially great because of our guides, Ben and Emma. I cannot say enough good things about those two. They were extremely patient, energetic, and very sincere.
    The trip has a wide variety of activities that allowed us to see and experience most of the South Island, keeping us away from the more congested tourist hangouts. I really felt like we saw the true South Island and not just the tourist trap attractions.
    The only reason I have not given it a 5 star rating is because my wife and I are very active and do very challenging trips that most people would never want to take on. It was not a trip of a lifetime for me only because of that. Take "trip of a lifetime" away from the 5 stars and just have excellent and I would mark that. Excellent trip!!!! ”
    Dave Mastolier – Alaska, United StatesDecember 2017
  • A Memorable Trip That Will Always Be a Part of Me

    “Hello my name is Mario Salazar, from San Francisco California. I took the Rimu trip to have an experience of visiting the beautiful country of New Zealand and all it could offer as a first time visitor. The nature of the parks and activities that I did was worth the time to travel there.The trip became a memorable experience that left me wanting to come back as there is a lot to see and try to take in. The time I spent there made me feel a longing to come back one day and continue my trek in the land of the Kiwi, be it by Kayak, or on the trek of personal growth, hiking a mountain almost a mile up. I thank the guides for showing us the fabulous land of New Zealand and being part of something that will be part of me always. Thank you Active Adventures! and thank you New Zealand for leaving something special in me.”
    Mario Salazar – California, United StatesOctober 2017
  • Good trip

    “ Good overview of the South Island. Friendly, knowledgeable guides, good group.”
    David Mclure – New Hampshire, United StatesMay 2017
  • Worth all of the Sweat and Laughs

    “I was on the Rimu trip through much of the South Island with tour guides Kim and Ash. I was only able to make 8 days of the trip because I had a prior commitment to meet a family member in the North Island. So my review will only be able to cover my 8 days, although I believe the trip was for a total of 14 days. The trip was excellent on many levels. The tour leaders were outstanding. They drove us in a cool bus, made most of our 3 meals a day and provided snacks in the bus. They lead us on the hikes and activities and seemed to make all arrangements(along with the cool Active Adventures office team support)for our journeys. Our guides were both in their mid 20's and I have to say the most positive and mature people I have ever met. They kept us on schedule and showed us a good variety of terrain in the South Island. New Zealand is really amazing. At times it reminded me of Alaska and also northern California perhaps Hawaii as well. The vegetation is beautiful, lush and the scenery incredible. We were in their Fall October months and so we did have some wet weather, but nothing that stopped us from enjoying the trip. I attended this journey as a single person and that was not a problem because there were 3 other women on the trip and we just were able to share hotel rooms which was great. I chose the Hiking Option through Nelson Lakes and that was an amazing and challenging journey. The real reward for me was making it up the very steep parts, over rocks and lots of tree roots. In the beginning of the trip I was not sure I was in good enough physical shape. I am a tennis player and skier and like to hike and walk a lot but after a few days hiking I found out that I could handle it . That was a big relief because I really wanted to enjoy the trip to the best of my ability. I also have to say that I lucked out because our group was really outstanding. They came from all over the USA and Canada and they were a fun and upbeat team. We were also close in age and that was also interesting in terms of our professional lives and personal cross roads.This turned out to be the perfect experience for me. It kicked me up a notch in terms of physical demands of day after day exercise and reminded me of being in camp as a child, but showed me a beautiful country that I will hopefully some day return to see more of.”
    Adrienne Helitzer – California, United StatesApril 2017
  • Great Outdoor Adventure!!

    “If you enjoy group travel and want to have some challenging and fun hiking, kayaking and cycling adventures that would be hard to organize on your own--this is the trip for you!”
    Susanna Ross – Oregon, United StatesApril 2017
  • “We enjoyed the trip, Amanda and Hillary (and Joe) were great. We had fantastic weather and the general locations included on the trip were exactly where I would have chosen to go if left to my own choosing. Wish we could have made it to Kaikora (spelling?), but that was out of your control.

    So (you might ask) why wasn't it "Excellent, the trip of a lifetime". For me it's having to deal with "strangers" for two weeks - I could probably handle a week a little better, but certain things can drive you crazy in 14 days. Most of the people were great, others (to my mind) were annoying. Major point being, this has nothing to do with your staff, your itinerary or anything else under your control - so AA did just fine. Some of the activities might have been a little more challenging, but overall I thought the general level of difficulty was fine. ”
    Gary Blose – New York, United StatesMarch 2017
  • Rave for Rimu!

    “Our adventure began from the moment we touched down in Christchurch and were greeted by our warm and friendly guide. Despite our flight being very delayed, Active Adventure staff ensured that we were greeted at the airport and taken to where the rest of the group was gathered. This attention to detail remained throughout the trip. The South Island scenery is stunning and the choices for our hikes, kayaking and cycling were excellent. For me, this type of well guided trip is truly vacationing! All I need to do is show up on time and I'm presented with stunning scenery, great exercise, tasty, healthy, food and most of the time, good accommodations. I do have one suggestion to help make some of the longer bus rides more entertaining. I would like to see a media system installed on the bus so that we could watch interesting cultural stuff about New Zealand along the way. This would help pass the time---there are some rides where the scenery outside was entertaining enough, but on other occasions it would have been a nice added touch! Congratulations on running an excellent trip all around! I hope to be back on another Active Adventure...maybe Himalayas?”
    Sherry Zweig – Ontario, CanadaMarch 2017
  • Very Active Trip!!

    “Always on the move...
    We covered a lot of miles and experienced most of New Zealand's South Island!
    Including: a lot of kayaking... which was great, and the vast knowledge shared by our guides!!
    P.S. Also recommend the Walking Tour in Queenstown by Miriam's Husband... It was Great!!”
    Sandy Boothe – Pennsylvania, United StatesMarch 2017
  • Old knees good times

    “My wife and I had so many questions prior to meeting our group and guides in NZ. How many in our group? What kind of people and what ages? What about the guides?

    What a great group from the start! Tess and Ken were thoughtful, sharing and knowledgeable guides. The itinerary was well thought-out even though we had our detours and quick changes. I was the oldest by 12 years and I loved it--tough for one without any meniscus but I expected it would be so--loved sweating and working. Braemar Station and Milford Sound were definitely highlights but the chemistry of our group was most prominent.”
    John Meek – California, United StatesFebruary 2017
  • Great Trip.

    “The best way to experience the South Island. ”
    Leith Maclaren – Illinois, United StatesFebruary 2017
  • Great introduction to New Zealand

    “When visiting New Zealand, one must be aware of the tendency for Mother Nature to intervene. We altered our backpacking due to epic rains! The earthquake last year kept us out of the northeast coast due to slides (slips down under). Low clouds downed the helihikers. And high winds kept us out of kayaks at Milford sound. Our guides always had excellent backup plans and we had a ball.”
    John Wood – Illinois, United StatesFebruary 2017
  • Rimu 2017 New Zealand

    “My New Zealand trip with Active Adventures was full of excitement, beauty and of course, adventure! I am certain I would not have seen or experienced many of the sights if I had scheduled this experience on my own. Active Adventures knows where to take you, how to get there and where to stay. Some very sweet, out of the way places were explored. Thanks so much for a super three weeks!”
    Sue Lipsman – Utah, United StatesJanuary 2017
  • Great active holiday

    “Really had an opportunity to experience the back country of New Zealand. Great trip.”
    David Tamir – New York, United StatesJanuary 2017
  • Great hiking adventure

    “Enjoyed going all the way around the South Island and luckily had great travel companions and guides who made even the bus rides fun.”
    Jonathan Tamir – New York, United StatesJanuary 2017
  • Wonderful Trip

    “The Rimu trip was incredibly beautiful. The guides did an amazing job of looking out for everyone. Highly recommend it.”
    Suzanne Jacobs – California, United StatesJanuary 2017
  • Beautiful and Magnificent!

    “In 14 days we saw much of the South Island NZ. Much of it was spectacular. The rest of it beautiful and pastoral. Our guides Joe and Steve were great and made the experience very enjoyable and comfortable. They seemed to really work well together. This would have been an excellent rating, but felt that some of the places we went to were too short. Like Milford Sound. Perhaps not go to so many places and spend a little more time in certain areas exploring a bit more. It does take time to get from place to place and is interesting to experience the transition of terrain, but keep it as active as possible. Otherwise, overall it was a wonderful trip and met some lovely people.
    Joel Amrani – California, United StatesJanuary 2017
  • Wet and Wild

    “I really enjoyed our Rimu trip! Steve and Liana were great hosts and guides!
    The many parks in New Zealand are proof of Nature's Beauty!
    I heard my first Avalanche and saw icebergs on an inland lake!
    The waterfalls seemed endless and the fiords were spectacular!
    It was a pleasure to let Steve do the driving and allow us to relax and enjoy the scenery.
    The hikes along the Kepler and Routeburn Tracks were great! It was great to see portions of these wonders.
    I thank Steve and Liana and Ellie too for helping us with the arrangements.
    I will recommend Active Adventures to all my outdoor friends.”
    Stephen Meek – California, United StatesDecember 2016
  • Amazing Adventure in Beautiful New Zealand

    “New Zealand has been a dream trip for me for years and I was so excited and a bit nervous to set out on this group journey. Excited for all the amazing destinations along the way, but a bit nervous about "group travel" as I was traveling solo, tend to be pretty independent, and didn't know what to expect. However, from day 1, the group got along great and the camaraderie grew along the way. The group was primarily solo travelers, with a few couples as well. Our guides, Andy and Ash, were fantastic and really helped deliver an incredible experience. The scenery was amazing, and we did a nice job breaking up driving/traveling days with hikes and activities along the way. The hikes were beautiful and appropriately challenging, but be prepared for all seasons in one day. In November, we experienced quite a bit of rain, but we were well prepared for the conditions and that didn't hold us back! It is hard to choose a favorite destination of this trip, but from mountains to lakes, rivers to sea, the Rimu trip was an incredible experience. A few favorites: Braemar Station and Lake Punakaiki, the beautiful lupine flowers highlighting Lake Wanaka and the Hawea River Trail, snow capped alps, and green hillsides along the way. Milford Sound was majestic, and the Marlborough Sound region was equally gorgeous. I had such an amazing trip and am already dreaming of the next destination! ”
    Katie Purcell – California, United StatesDecember 2016
  • A delightful couple of weeks

    “First off, New Zealand itself is just majestic!

    This was the first time we had ever participated in an organized travel sojourn and we had a lovely time. It was a treat to have someone else doing all the work and taking care of the logistics (especially nice for us perhaps since we're still deep in raising our own kids). Dan (K) and Tess were tireless in their efforts and unfailingly good humored, and it was fun getting to know the rest of the group traveling with us.

    Overall, I would say the trip was a little different than I expected (somewhat less active, somewhat older audience, etc) but no less enjoyable for it. Given that it is a group activity, there is some compromise involved in terms of people adjusting to each others pace and fitness levels. But that is offset by the enjoyable camaraderie of the group itself.

    The food was always plentiful - not always inspired, but usually quite tasty, and special efforts made to accommodate people's preferences. And there is a good amount of time on the bus, but hard to avoid that given how much ground the trip covers. Most days the travel time was broken up in such a way as to not seem onerous at all.

    All around, a very relaxing two weeks. Well recommended. ”
    Bella Holmes – California, United StatesMay 2016
  • “As a keen hiker turned tramper Active Adventures certainly helped me discover and explore 'Shangri-la' and I feel blessed to be a short 3hr flight away living just north of Sydney - I will return!”
    Lynsey Mallett – New South Wales, AustraliaMay 2016
  • “I had been on the North Island for 6 months and looking for a way to see the beauty of the South Island without me having to do the planning and you certainly made it easy”
    Russell Emerson – North Carolina, United StatesApril 2016
  • Rimu - Feb 2016

    “The Rimu trip was designed exactly as I always wanted to experience such a beautiful country....hiking, biking and kyaking. Our guides showed us the best segments of some of the most beautiful hiking trails which would probably take months to navigate. Loved the knowledge of historical stories shared on our long travel days. The meals were delicious and healthy. Our group was super fun and by the first day we were already friends.

    The physical demands for this trip were high and I found myself out of my comfort zone on the 3 days trek. It wasn't the long hiking days, the 3,000 ft. elevation gain, the mud and water crossings, or sleeping in the huts. It was the up and over two huge rockpiles carrying a very heavy backpack where every step forward was uncertain, loose , sliding rocks. There was no looking around because you can't stand up straight and you can't take your eyes off your next step. This was not a "fun" part of the trip for me. But...I made it! ”
    Deborah Calos – Nevada, United StatesApril 2016
  • Great Trip to see the South Island

    “This trip is designed well, with not only a variety of activities, but the ability to visit a variety of places on the South Island. Very comprehensive! ”
    Vanessa Kalis – California, United StatesApril 2016
  • Rimu 2016 (South)

    “The Rimu trip was lovely. We had a congenial group and two wonderful guides. We had a few weather issues which cannot be avoided but the company and the guides made the best of them. I enjoyed the company and the sites. I was especially enamoured by the Braemar Sheep station and the Mt Cook hike. The logistics were superbly managed. Some of the days were a bit long and it would be great if they could be shortened a bit. ”
    Christine Harrison – Ontario, CanadaMarch 2016
  • Beautiful Action-Packed Trip

    “I found the trip to be a wonderful exploration of South Island New Zealand. DK and Elder were very competent and professional guides, as well as fun-loving and personable. The trip was challenging and fun and adventurous and beautiful. We really explored all that the South Island had to offer. I didn't like the backpacking segment - too rugged and risky for me. I loved everything else about the trip. The group size of 12 was perfect.”
    Kathy Berryman – Arizona, United StatesMarch 2016
  • South Island is beautiful!

    “I really enjoyed the trip. Details are nailed down! I especially loved the variety of accommodations which were in beautiful locations. The food was incredible and the guides knowlegable and friendly. ”
    Nancy Pfeifer – California, United StatesMarch 2016
  • Great trip!

    “Great guides and great scenery! Very well organized trip.”
    Mike Munsey – Alaska, United StatesMarch 2016
  • Great Adventure

    “I really enjoyed my Rimu trip with Active Adventures and especially enjoyed our guides, Gary and. Holly. They both went out of their way to guide us, take care of us, keep us entertained, and cook for us. Gary drove our bus down winding roads and over one-way bridges, sometimes through the pouring rain.


    This is a very active trip, and you should be in good shape if you want to do it! Many of the hikes are not easy and most involve climbing. It is a workout, and I was very tired by the end of our trip. I thought the meals and lodgings provided by Active were excellent. In some places we had to share bathrooms, but these were remote lodgings in beautiful places that we would not have seen if traveling on our own.

    This trip is well worth it if you are in decent shape and are ready for some tough hikes. I describe our 3-day hike in more detail on my blog: http://www.robinbarefield.com/blog ”
    Robin Barefield – Alaska, United StatesMarch 2016
  • Active Adventures

    “As the title says, you are active all day, dawn to dusk. Most days there is no time to even sit back and read a newspaper. Breakfast 7-7:30 am, on the road by 8:30am........some days more time spent on the bus travelling to certain destinations. Supper is somewhat late in the day but that can't be helped. I found no time for anything but bed after eating....early bird gets the worm!! Kudos (sp?) to the guides and their cooking skills. The food was great, healthy and never-ending....better than any of the restaurants we went to. The comraderie on the bus between everyone was great....I miss my "family"! I thoroughly enjoyed it.”
    Susie Armishaw – British Columbia, CanadaMarch 2016
  • Nelson Lakes

    “The Nelson Lakes National Park is spectacular. The views on the trails are so vast, there are no words to adequately describe them. The Angelus hut is well worth the effort up the Cascade trail. I saw the Southern Cross and Milky Way just before dawn. This place was the highlight of the trip for me and will stay with me forever.”
    Liz McCarthy – Massachusetts, United StatesMarch 2016
  • RIMU 2016

    “We had a wonderful time with Active Adventures during our RIMU trip. Our guides: Ken and Alex were wonderful, engaging, cheerful and fun!”
    Kimberly Weekes – Wisconsin, United StatesMarch 2016

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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