Request a free Brochure

Get a FREE Active Adventures Brochure

Includes info on all of our trips and a tour itinerary booklet.

By submitting this request, you agree to our Privacy Policy

Essence of the South Island


4.59 out of 5 (from 1827 reviews)

  • 8 Days - From US$3999 + tax

Trip Introduction

This is an action-packed adventure where you’ll explore some of New Zealand’s most iconic and remote wilderness. It works well if your vacation time is limited, since you can fly from North America on a Friday evening, sleep on the plane, and be back at work ten days later to share your photos and stories on Monday morning. 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 ‘Tui’ suits people of a wide range of fitness levels and outdoor experience, particularly if you enjoy a variety of activities. Typically hikes on the ‘Tui’ trip range between two and six hours to complete.


Routeburn Track
Mt Aspiring National Park
Franz Josef Glacier

Overnight cruise and sea kayak
Milford Sound

Te Araroa track to Wanaka

Scenic mountain flight to Siberia Hut
Jet boat in Mt Aspiring National Park
Explore Queenstown

The Siberia Valley experience is an exciting part of the 'Tui' trip, and often the highlight of the trip for our guests:

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.
Check Availability

Interactive Trip Map


Day 1 — Arrive, hike in Arthur's Pass

Most people leave the northern hemisphere on a Friday evening, arriving into Auckland early Sunday 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 in the South Island where we'll meet you. We'll then travel into the Southern Alps to hike Devils Punchbowl in Arthur's Pass. The walk will take you through native beech forest to an awesome 131 metre (430 feet) waterfall so make sure you have your camera handy! From there, we'll head down the coast to Franz Josef where we'll stay the night. Nestled in the rainforest-clad foothills of the Southern Alps, Franz Josef is the heart of New Zealand glacier country.
Rainforest Retreat, Franz Josef (Lunch, Dinner)

Day 2 — 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, or around Lake Matheson.

Optional Heli-hike (add US$350 + tax)
A less strenuous, but 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 (4000 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 to Haast, and over the divide to a small mountain village called Makarora, where we’ll enjoy some local fare.
Makarora Lodgings, Makarora (All meals)

Day 3 (morning) — Start Mt Aspiring National Park options

This morning we’ll make our final preparations for our incredible flight into Mount Aspiring National Park, and true wilderness.

Siberia Valley Wilderness option in Mt Aspiring National Park

Day 3 (afternoon) - Scenic flight, hike Lake Crucible

If you like the idea of staying in one of New Zealand’s most isolated mountain huts, then this option is for you (but let us know early as space is limited!) We’ll start with a stunning scenic flight alongside the snowy Southern Alps to the Siberia Valley airstrip, a short hike from our home for the night. After lightening your packs at the hut, you can hike up the trail to Lake Crucible, a cauldron-like glacial lake with fantastic views of the valley below. Tonight you’ll be served a candle-lit dinner in a picturesque National Park. This is the only night on the ‘Tui’ where your accommodation is basic, though it’s a true Kiwi experience and a lot of fun. Your load will be little more than a day pack – our guides will carry the lion’s share. You’ll be carrying a backpack with a sleeping bag, a few spare clothes and some food – no need for any more than that, although we have tents you can carry along if you’d prefer to camp out under the stars.
Siberia Hut, Mt Aspiring National Park (All meals)

Day 4 (morning) - Hike Siberia Valley, jet boat Wilkin River

After an early start, we spend the morning hiking to Kerin Forks, at the head of the Wilkin River, where we’ll be met by a jet boat for an exhilarating ride back to Makarora to meet up with the rest of the group for lunch.

Makarora Adventure in Mt Aspiring National Park

Day 3 (afternoon) - Scenic flight, hike Siberia Valley, jet boat Wilkin River

If you prefer accommodation with modern amenities instead of a mountain hut for the night, then this is the option for you. You’ll head out for a mind-blowing scenic flight into Mt Aspiring National Park, with a bird’s eye view of the lower Southern Alps, landing in the remote Siberia Valley. From here you’ll hike downstream along the Wilkin River, through beautiful silver beech (Nothofagus menziesii) forests to a jet boat rendezvous. Then it’s a thrilling ride back to Makarora for dinner and perhaps a well-earned drink at the Makarora pub.
Makarora Lodgings, Makarora (All meals)

Day 4 (morning) - Hike on Mt Shrimpton

This morning we’ll hike the Mt Shrimpton track. It’s a steep hike with a 750 metres (2500 feet) elevation gain, and wait until you see the views from above the tree-line! Alternatively, you can have a relaxing sleep in and spend your morning soaking up the mountain views.

Day 4 (afternoon) — Finish Mt Aspiring National Park options, cycle Hawea River Trail

After regrouping in Makarora, we’ll have a picnic lunch before taking a beautiful drive through spectacular glacier-carved valleys. The landscape changes rapidly from dense beech forests to semi-arid terrain. When we arrive at Lake Hawea, you’ll be fitted with a 21-speed front-suspension Avanti Black Thunder 7.1 mountain bike for a scenic ride along the Hawea River Trail. This gently undulating track follows the Hawea and Clutha Rivers through the rugged Central Otago landscape for 17 kilometres (10 miles) to the charming lakeside town of Wanaka. From Wanaka, it’s a short but dramatic journey over the Cardrona Saddle to Queenstown, on the shores of Lake Wakatipu. You’ll sleep sweetly tonight at a lakefront hotel located in the heart of Queenstown.
Crowne Plaza Hotel, Queenstown (Breakfast, Lunch)

Day 5 — Gondola ride, hike Ben Lomond or free day in Queenstown

Today you have two options – a full day hike or a free day to yourself. For those keen for an alpine hike, you'll meet your guide at reception at 9am, ready to head up the Ben Lomond Track. To save our legs a little, we’ll take a short gondola ride up to Bob’s Peak, which is 450 metres (1476 feet) above Queenstown. From there we’ll head out along the trail through alpine tussock-land towards the summit of Ben Lomond. From this vantage point you’ll find yourself immersed in amazing views over Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu, which are themselves dwarfed by the surrounding mountains including Mt Aspiring. As an alternative, you can have a free day to explore on your own. 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, kayaking, fishing, winery tours, hang gliding, mountain biking, bungy jumping, jet boating and skydiving. 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 incl.)

Day 6 — Hike Fiordland National Park

This morning, we set off for our largest and perhaps most spectacular national park, Fiordland. Once within the park we’ll stop to stretch our legs at regular intervals, to explore some of the highlights of this World Heritage Area, including the Eglinton Valley, Mirror Lakes, Marian Gantry and The Chasm. The waterfalls viewed from the gantry will take your breath away! Once through the Homer Tunnel we’ll emerge at the top of a spectacular glacier-carved valley for a memorable descent to the shore 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 you’re in for an extra-special experience, as we’ll board the Milford Wanderer for an overnight cruise in the sheltered fiord. For those who’re keen, there’s time to explore a short section of the Milford Track - you’ll transfer on a smaller vessel to Sandfly Point and join a naturalist guide for approximately 1.5 hours, before rejoining the Wanderer in time for a sumptuous dinner!
Milford Wanderer Overnight Cruise, Milford Sound (All meals)

Day 7 — Sea kayak Milford Sound, hike Routeburn Track

Having seen Milford Sound from the deck of a ship there’s one more unique activity we’ve got lined up for you, to experience the eighth natural wonder ‘Active Style’, gliding along in sea kayaks. You’ll cause very little disturbance to the water, being in kayaks, providing an excellent chance of meeting friendly fur seals and dolphins that are sometimes in the area. This trip is run by specialist kayak guides, and the paddling here is equally suitable for beginners and experts. After lunch, we’ll explore the Fiordland wilderness on foot again, with a hike to Key Summit on the famous Routeburn Track. The panoramic views are incredible from this vantage point and you’ll probably get to meet New Zealand’s notoriously cheeky and intelligent alpine parrot, the kea (Nestor notabilis). Tonight we’ll enjoy a celebratory dinner for the last night of the ‘Tui’.
Lake Manapouri Inn, Manapouri (All meals)

Day 8 — Depart for home

After breakfast, we'll return to Queenstown. This is the end of your 'Tui' trip and you'll have had an exhilarating week. We'll leave you buzzing with excitement, but feeling relaxed and refreshed as well! For a great way to see the North Island too, where you'll experience Maori culture, pristine beaches and geothermal areas, combine this trip with our 11-day 'Kauri' (5-day 'Kauri' options available).


Trip Date Price Status  
Sep 23, 2018 – Sep 30, 2018 US$3999 + tax Filling up Check Availability
Oct 07, 2018 – Oct 14, 2018 US$3999 + tax Filling up Check Availability
Oct 14, 2018 – Oct 21, 2018 US$3999 + tax Filling up Check Availability
Oct 21, 2018 – Oct 28, 2018 US$3999 + tax Filling up Check Availability
Oct 28, 2018 – Nov 04, 2018 US$3999 + tax Filling up Check Availability
Nov 04, 2018 – Nov 11, 2018 US$3999 + tax Almost full Check Availability
Nov 11, 2018 – Nov 18, 2018 US$3999 + tax Almost Full - Check Now! Check Availability
Nov 18, 2018 – Nov 25, 2018 US$3999 + tax Filling up Check Availability
Nov 25, 2018 – Dec 02, 2018 US$3999 + tax Almost full Check Availability
Nov 27, 2018 – Dec 04, 2018 US$3999 + tax Full Check Availability
Dec 09, 2018 – Dec 16, 2018 US$4199 + tax Filling up Check Availability
Dec 16, 2018 – Dec 23, 2018 US$4199 + tax Filling up Check Availability
Dec 17, 2018 – Dec 24, 2018 US$4199 + tax Great Check Availability
Dec 23, 2018 – Dec 30, 2018 US$4199 + tax Almost Full - Check Now! Check Availability
Dec 24, 2018 – Dec 31, 2018 US$4199 + tax Full Check Availability
Dec 30, 2018 – Jan 06, 2019 US$4199 + tax Almost Full - Check Now! Check Availability
Dec 31, 2018 – Jan 07, 2019 US$4199 + tax Filling up Check Availability
Jan 06, 2019 – Jan 13, 2019 US$4199 + tax Almost full Check Availability
Jan 07, 2019 – Jan 14, 2019 US$4199 + tax Filling up Check Availability
Jan 13, 2019 – Jan 20, 2019 US$4199 + tax Almost full Check Availability
Jan 20, 2019 – Jan 27, 2019 US$4199 + tax Filling up Check Availability
Jan 21, 2019 – Jan 28, 2019 US$4199 + tax New date! Check Availability
Jan 27, 2019 – Feb 03, 2019 US$4199 + tax Filling up Check Availability
Feb 03, 2019 – Feb 10, 2019 US$4199 + tax Almost Full - Check Now! Check Availability
Feb 04, 2019 – Feb 11, 2019 US$4199 + tax Almost Full - Check Now! Check Availability
Feb 10, 2019 – Feb 17, 2019 US$4199 + tax Filling up Check Availability
Feb 11, 2019 – Feb 18, 2019 US$4199 + tax Filling up Check Availability
Feb 17, 2019 – Feb 24, 2019 US$4199 + tax Filling up Check Availability
Feb 24, 2019 – Mar 03, 2019 US$4199 + tax Filling up Check Availability
Mar 03, 2019 – Mar 10, 2019 US$3999 + tax Filling up Check Availability
Mar 10, 2019 – Mar 17, 2019 US$3999 + tax Almost full Check Availability
Mar 17, 2019 – Mar 24, 2019 US$3999 + tax Filling up Check Availability
Mar 24, 2019 – Mar 31, 2019 US$3999 + tax Filling up Check Availability
Mar 31, 2019 – Apr 07, 2019 US$3999 + tax Great Check Availability
Apr 14, 2019 – Apr 21, 2019 US$3999 + tax Filling up Check Availability
Apr 28, 2019 – May 05, 2019 US$3999 + tax Great Check Availability
Sep 29, 2019 – Oct 06, 2019 US$3999 + tax Great Check Availability
Oct 06, 2019 – Oct 13, 2019 US$3999 + tax Great Check Availability
Oct 13, 2019 – Oct 20, 2019 US$3999 + tax Great Check Availability
Oct 20, 2019 – Oct 27, 2019 US$3999 + tax Great Check Availability
Oct 27, 2019 – Nov 03, 2019 US$3999 + tax Great Check Availability
Nov 03, 2019 – Nov 10, 2019 US$3999 + tax Great Check Availability
Nov 10, 2019 – Nov 17, 2019 US$3999 + tax Great Check Availability
Nov 17, 2019 – Nov 24, 2019 US$3999 + tax Filling up Check Availability
Nov 24, 2019 – Dec 01, 2019 US$3999 + tax Great Check Availability
Dec 08, 2019 – Dec 15, 2019 US$4199 + tax Great Check Availability
Dec 15, 2019 – Dec 22, 2019 US$4199 + tax Great Check Availability
Dec 22, 2019 – Dec 29, 2019 US$4199 + tax Great Check Availability
Dec 29, 2019 – Jan 05, 2020 US$4199 + tax Great Check Availability
Jan 05, 2020 – Jan 12, 2020 US$4199 + tax Filling up Check Availability
Jan 12, 2020 – Jan 19, 2020 US$4199 + tax Great Check Availability
Jan 19, 2020 – Jan 26, 2020 US$4199 + tax Great Check Availability
Jan 26, 2020 – Feb 02, 2020 US$4199 + tax Great Check Availability
Feb 02, 2020 – Feb 09, 2020 US$4199 + tax Great Check Availability
Feb 09, 2020 – Feb 16, 2020 US$4199 + tax Filling up Check Availability
Feb 16, 2020 – Feb 23, 2020 US$4199 + tax Great Check Availability
Feb 23, 2020 – Mar 01, 2020 US$4199 + tax Great Check Availability
Mar 01, 2020 – Mar 08, 2020 US$3999 + tax Great Check Availability
Mar 08, 2020 – Mar 15, 2020 US$3999 + tax Great Check Availability
Mar 15, 2020 – Mar 22, 2020 US$3999 + tax Great Check Availability
Mar 22, 2020 – Mar 29, 2020 US$3999 + tax Great Check Availability
Mar 29, 2020 – Apr 05, 2020 US$3999 + tax Great Check Availability
Apr 12, 2020 – Apr 19, 2020 US$3999 + tax Great Check Availability
Apr 26, 2020 – May 03, 2020 US$3999 + tax Great Check Availability
Sep 27, 2020 – Oct 04, 2020 US$3999 + tax Great Check Availability
Oct 04, 2020 – Oct 11, 2020 US$3999 + tax Great Check Availability
Oct 11, 2020 – Oct 18, 2020 US$3999 + tax Great Check Availability
Oct 18, 2020 – Oct 25, 2020 US$3999 + tax Great Check Availability
Oct 25, 2020 – Nov 01, 2020 US$3999 + tax Great Check Availability
Nov 01, 2020 – Nov 08, 2020 US$3999 + tax Great Check Availability
Nov 08, 2020 – Nov 15, 2020 US$3999 + tax Great Check Availability
Nov 09, 2020 – Nov 16, 2020 US$3999 + tax Great Check Availability
Nov 15, 2020 – Nov 22, 2020 US$3999 + tax Great Check Availability
Nov 22, 2020 – Nov 29, 2020 US$3999 + tax Great Check Availability
Dec 06, 2020 – Dec 13, 2020 US$4199 + tax Great Check Availability
Dec 13, 2020 – Dec 20, 2020 US$4199 + tax Great Check Availability
Dec 14, 2020 – Dec 21, 2020 US$4199 + tax Great Check Availability
Dec 20, 2020 – Dec 27, 2020 US$4199 + tax Great Check Availability
Dec 21, 2020 – Dec 28, 2020 US$4199 + tax Great Check Availability
Dec 27, 2020 – Jan 03, 2021 US$4199 + tax Great Check Availability
Dec 28, 2020 – Jan 04, 2021 US$4199 + tax Great Check Availability
Jan 03, 2021 – Jan 10, 2021 US$4199 + tax Great Check Availability
Jan 04, 2021 – Jan 11, 2021 US$4199 + tax Great Check Availability
Jan 10, 2021 – Jan 17, 2021 US$4199 + tax Great Check Availability
Jan 17, 2021 – Jan 24, 2021 US$4199 + tax Great Check Availability
Jan 18, 2021 – Jan 25, 2021 US$4199 + tax Great Check Availability
Jan 24, 2021 – Jan 31, 2021 US$4199 + tax Great Check Availability
Jan 31, 2021 – Feb 07, 2021 US$4199 + tax Great Check Availability
Feb 01, 2021 – Feb 08, 2021 US$4199 + tax Great Check Availability
Feb 07, 2021 – Feb 14, 2021 US$4199 + tax Great Check Availability
Feb 08, 2021 – Feb 15, 2021 US$4199 + tax Great Check Availability
Feb 14, 2021 – Feb 21, 2021 US$4199 + tax Great Check Availability
Feb 15, 2021 – Feb 22, 2021 US$4199 + tax Great Check Availability
Feb 21, 2021 – Feb 28, 2021 US$4199 + tax Great Check Availability
Feb 22, 2021 – Mar 01, 2021 US$4199 + tax Great Check Availability
Feb 28, 2021 – Mar 07, 2021 US$4199 + tax Great Check Availability
Mar 01, 2021 – Mar 08, 2021 US$3999 + tax Great Check Availability
Mar 07, 2021 – Mar 14, 2021 US$3999 + tax Great Check Availability
Mar 14, 2021 – Mar 21, 2021 US$3999 + tax Great Check Availability
Mar 15, 2021 – Mar 22, 2021 US$3999 + tax Great Check Availability
Mar 21, 2021 – Mar 28, 2021 US$3999 + tax Great Check Availability
Mar 28, 2021 – Apr 04, 2021 US$3999 + tax Great Check Availability
Apr 11, 2021 – Apr 18, 2021 US$3999 + tax Great Check Availability
Apr 25, 2021 – May 02, 2021 US$3999 + 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 9.30am, or at Christchurch airport in front of the Travel and Information desk at 10am.

Trip End:

On the last day of the trip we can drop you off at Queenstown airport (ZQN) in time for the recommended flights below, or anywhere in Queenstown around lunch time.

Recommended flights:

Arrival: If you’re flying in on the first day of the trip, we recommend arriving in Christchurch before 9am on Sunday.
Departure: Flying out on the last day of the trip, we recommend departing from Queenstown any time after 12 noon. If you are considering alternative flight times, or an international departure from Queenstown, please check with us. International flights from Auckland airport (AKL) 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.


The ‘Tui’ suits people of a wide range of fitness levels and outdoor experience, particularly if you enjoy a variety of activities. If you keep reasonably active and like to give things a go, you’re likely to enjoy the activities much more. Typically, hikes on the ‘Tui’ trip range between two and six hours to complete, and there are shorter alternatives to the longer hikes. If you’re used to pushing yourself further, we’ll keep you challenged as well. Please get in touch with us if you’d like to chat about the trip or activities.


  • Variety and Flexibility

    “What i love most about this tour is not just the variety of the activities, but more importantly the flexibility of choosing what I would like and not like to do. If something is too hard or too inconvenient, I was always given the choice to opt out of that activity.”
    Rhyan Uy – , PhilippinesJune 2018
  • Our Amazing Honeymoon

    “Words cannot explain just how incredible this trip was. Katie and Astrid were wonderful guides and the entire trip was perfect, and I hate using that word. We had rain, sunshine, and even a hike through the snow at Ben Lomond, and I wouldn't have changed a thing. This was the experience of a lifetime and I strongly recommend it for anyone who wants to get a little more out of a vacation!”
    Frank Garcia – Florida, United StatesJune 2018
  • Tui March 2018 - Amazing trip!

    “This was the trip of a lifetime! I saw so many beautiful sites, enjoyed the company of a great group of people, and had the opportunity to experience some things I never thought I would. Everyone at Active Adventures did a wonderful job of making sure questions were answered and all details were sorted. Liana and Simon were excellent guides who made sure everything we needed was taken care of while at the same time being fun, knowledgeable and enthusiastic about everything New Zealand had to offer!”
    Theresa Pastoria – Michigan, United StatesApril 2018
  • Tui Trip

    “This trip was wonderful, enjoyed every minute and it was so well organized. Our guides were the best.”
    Don Walker – Colorado, United StatesApril 2018
  • Tui Trip Review

    “Our Tui trip was fantastic. A great group of travelers from age 19 to 70 ish.
    James and Carrie, our guides, could not have been better, as they shared their knowledge and stories of New Zealand. We enjoyed their good humor and enthusiastic leadership. When some bad weather interfered with the daily plan, headquarters and our guides did a great job in providing for our comfort, safety, and finding a way to enjoy our day. This 8 day trip provides a great introduction to the beauty of the South Island.”
    Paul Tichenor – Michigan, United StatesApril 2018
  • GREAT Highlights/Overview of the South Island of Aotearoa/NZ

    “When you only have a week, and no way to plan your own journey, and enough money, THIS IS THE TRIP. I still have trouble believing Active Adventures could put so many different activities (hiking, kayaking, cycling, airplane flight, overnight cruise, jet boat) in so many different locations in one week. The small-sized group was great (we avoided booking a guided trip with a different company that had "only 50 others" - yikes!) 7 of us and 2 guides. This meant a nice-sized vehicle rather than a touring coach, and good interactions. The guides were young Kiwis who clearly love their country, and have learned much about it. The emphasis was on seeing the land, the water, the wildlife, and learning a bit about native Maori culture rather than on plush accommodations and 5-star dining. That said, the hotels/motels were more than adequate, and they are places to which we'll return if we ever get the chance. It was pricey, but we'd never have been able to do this ourselves, and we had a BLAST. And now we know where we want to go back and go more slowly.”
    Julie Peyton – Oregon, United StatesMay 2018
  • Wonderful Trip with Great Friends.

    “We had a group of 4 couples on the "Tui trip" and had a wonderful experience. The guides were fabulous and extremely knowledgable. They were at their best when the weather (Cyclone Gita) threw us a curveball. (That's a baseball term. Sorry you cricket lovers)!”
    Bobby Upp – Louisiana, United StatesMarch 2018
  • Great Trip

    “This was a brilliant trip. Superb guides with great information about every place we went. Great pace with a good balance of medium and harder hiking. Highlights: information from guides during the trip; delicious and healthy food; spectacular views; great pace. Lowlights: I’m scratching to find lowlights; but due to the shorter duration of the trip and the number of areas that are visited; there is a lot of travel time. I don’t know how that can be reduced though.”
    Justine van der Werf – Queensland, AustraliaMarch 2018
  • Wonderful Overview of the South Island

    “We really enjoyed all the variety on the trip and seeing a good portion of the South Island.”
    JR Matthews – California, United StatesMarch 2018
  • It Was a Trip Full of Action!

    “We really enjoyed this south island trip.
    Both Dani and Maya are full of energy and appears to enjoy what they do!
    Dani is very knowledgeable about the history of the area and people.
    They are problem solvers and went out of their ways to accommodate this large group of travelers!”
    Miao Zhao – Texas, United States of AmericaJanuary 2018
  • Memorable Trip

    “The Tui trip included a variety of activities and allowed us to see quite a bit of the South Island. The scenery was outstanding - it was everything we hoped for. The guides were fantastic. This is a trip we will be talked about for a long time to come.”
    Mary Beth Sattler – Maryland, United States of AmericaJanuary 2018
  • “We really had a great time with your team. Your lead guide, James, was always accommodating and willing to go the extra mile for everyone. When we could not make one of our trips due to rain it was super impressive that you guys made a work-around and made it happen. It was a wonderful trip.”
    Steve Henriques – Texas, United StatesJanuary 2018
  • Best trip ever!

    “The Tui trip was well planned with two very cheerful and detail-oriented guides, Amanda and Alex! I enjoyed not only the spectacular post-card like views, but also the hospitality of Kiwi!”
    Bingli Mo – California, United StatesJanuary 2018
  • Wonderful introduction to the South Island

    “Based on the trip itinerary and description, I assumed this would be a fantastic introduction to the South Island. And, it was. What I did not expect were two of the best guides I have ever had on a planned adventure trip. They made adventure absolutely wonderful.”
    Roy Breyfogle – Colorado, United StatesJanuary 2018
  • Best way to see New Zealand

    “My husband and I spent our honeymoon in New Zealand for several weeks, the middle part of which we spent with Active Adventures. Being shown New Zealand by local people was by far the best way to travel. Our guides were absolutely amazing and were able to create a trip that best suited everyone. We were able to go places that would have been otherwise impossible for my husband and I to plan on our own. From staying in small towns that we wouldn't have heard about otherwise and being flown into isolated valleys to spend a few days, it felt like we were being shown a different side of NZ. It was the trip of a lifetime. ”
    Bridgette Van Sloun – New York, United StatesDecember 2017
  • Beautiful Trip Through Remote Corners of the Country

    “Our Active Adventures 'Tui' tour on the South Island of New Zealand was wonderful. With the help of our exceptional guides and our new comrades we were able to see so many breathtakingly pristine natural wonders, and engage with them in such fun ways. The trip was fast paced and exciting. Highly recommended!”
    Albert Kennis – Shizuoka-ken, JapanDecember 2017
  • Great Way to Experience the South Island

    “This vacation was a great combination of active and pure sightseeing. Lots of good hikes and terrific landscape.”
    Linda McKenzie – Ontario, CanadaNovember 2017
  • Rain or Shine

    “The Tui trip was a great way to see some of the South Island through hiking, biking, and kayaking. If the weather is nice it just makes everything spectacular. If it's raining, the weather is balanced out by the fun interactions with fellow tour mates and guides, excellent food, and good accommodations.”
    Jenny Martin – Alaska, United StatesNovember 2017
  • Active Adventure Indeed

    “It was a great trip with just enough activities to keep it interesting and challenging. Koru provided good insights on locations, while Tess took care of all our needs. The group was small enough to feel like family and we bonded well during the trip. I highly recommend this trip to anyone that likes to stay active during vacation.”
    Steve Yates – Texas, United StatesMay 2017
  • Fun Trip

    “I very much enjoyed the Active Adventures Tui trip. The guides were phenomenal and very knowledgeable about the sites in New Zealand. We saw many beautiful places and I enjoyed the activities that were planned. ”
    Lenore Ma – New York, United StatesApril 2017
  • A Great Eight Days

    “My wife, Shanen, and I had a goal of running a marathon on all seven continents and our seventh took place on March 18, in Rotorua, NZ. So two days after completing our goal, we returned to Christchurch and met up with our guides, Hillary and Dan, along with our fellow travelers. As good fortune would have it we all clicked as a group and off we went.

    For the remainder of our journey it was clear that both Hillary and Dan took great joy in what they do. Furthermore, and of great importance to us, they ensured meals had met our vegetarian and vegan needs. We were never made to feel our dietary needs were inconvenient to them and they were handled in such a way that all of us were able to enjoy our group meals.

    The actual adventure was well planned out and the expectations of each day were always explained. Our group was one that started together, made sure all finished and enjoyed the adventure.

    John Edmundson – Arizona, United StatesApril 2017
  • Outstanding Guides!

    “I would like to extend kudos to our trip leader Ken. He was an inspiration to me. He encouraged me on hikes I was questioning myself about and gave me praise every step of the way. You are the BOMB Ken. Also, he is a very courteous driver. I felt very safe with him driving.”
    Lynn Schiller – Minnesota, United StatesMarch 2017
  • Great Trip to NZ South Island

    “Enjoyed the adventurous activities while touring the South Island. Good mix of hiking, biking, kayaking, river crossing, and site seeing. Hiking difficulty and distances were just right, and guides were knowledgeable and fun. Good way to travel with a group. ”
    Joe Bahr – Florida, United StatesMarch 2017
  • Tui February 2017

    “Fantastic tour of New Zealand. Definitely stayed "active" throughout the whole trip! Already planning my next visit through Active Adventures. ”
    Lindsay Grim – Alabama, United StatesMarch 2017
  • Feb 19-26 Active Adventures TUI trip

    “Really had a fantastic 8 day TUI trip to the South Island led by Joe and Steve of Active Adventures. Great way to experience New Zealand for the first time. Those two worked really hard to make the trip go smoothly from start to finish. Great music, great meals, amazing scenery, hiking, and conversation. Only problem was it all went too fast. I hope to get back to NZ someday soon. It was everything I hoped and more! ”
    Doug Nagle – Minnesota, United StatesMarch 2017
  • Get in Shape for Sensational Views!

    “This was the trip of a lifetime! We all read about how beautiful New Zealand is, but nothing compares to seeing it with your own two eyes. And up close on an Active Adventure is even better! But be prepared to be very active. This was a non-stop week of fantastic activity, with lots of hiking and some kayaking and biking in beautiful surroundings and a chance to catch your breath on scenic plane flights and jet boat rides. And don't miss the helicopter ride!”
    Jeanne Brady – Massachusetts, United StatesMarch 2017
  • Bonzer trip to the South Island

    “Thanks to Greg and Mel for a memorable exploration of New Zealand's South Island. Need to come back to enjoy the wonders of this place.”
    Ted Jackson – Tennessee, United StatesMarch 2017
  • Tui experience

    “This trip provided a good balance of activities with the necessary travel time to access the different parts of the South Island. The trip was well organized, and the guides were super. They accommodated our individual desires and capabilities, as well as being good cooks, leaders, and knowledgeable guides. Our group quickly melded into collegial and interesting companions, and that make the experience that much better. The itinerary provides a taste all that the South Island offers. I'm happy to have chosen this company to tour with. ”
    Gary Ezzell – Arizona, United StatesFebruary 2017
  • The only way to "do" the south island

    “What a great trip! There is no way we could have seen or done half as much on our own. The sights were amazing, rain or shine. The hiking was a mix of easy and tough. Food was great. The accommodations were top of the line and such a welcome retreat after an active day. We had a really lovely, interesting, and inclusive group. Kim did a fantastic job driving the winding mountainous roads. It only took a day to learn to look at what Tess is wearing...if she takes a layer off, you should too! Wonderful trip, so glad we went with Active!”
    Brianna Frear – Wisconsin, United StatesFebruary 2017
  • Great treks

    “We went as a family of five and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves!
    The scenery was even better than you might imagine from gallery photos.
    The hikes were variable, some challenging and others easier but never felt pressured to do anything uncomfortable. The guides, Hiliary and Nick were fantastic.
    Highly recommended as a family trip for the adventurers.”
    Mike O'Donnell – Michigan, United StatesJanuary 2017
  • The deep South

    “Top quality guide,great food,excellent bus commentary,excellent organisation.”
    Colin Wards – , New ZealandJanuary 2017
  • Terrific Tui

    “What a great route and selection of activities! Informative and fun guides, well-managed accommodations, and good eats! A wonderful tour and experience.”
    Matthew Gonser – Hawaii, United StatesJanuary 2017
  • Perfect amount of adventure

    “From gazing upon Franz Josef Glacier to biking along Hawea Lake Trail, to gliding on calm waters in Milford Sound, it's been a most memorable adventure! Our guides Tess and Amanda were a great duo! I loved that it was just enough activity without being sore while still being able to see so much of South Island. ”
    Grace Zheng – Hawaii, United StatesJanuary 2017
  • 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 – California, United StatesNovember 2016
  • Tui with Michelle and Joe!

    “Wow! such a fun trip! Great guides! Really enjoyed them both. Very professional yet so friendly. Toward the end of the trip, felt out group was really close!”
    Courtney Davis – California, United StatesJune 2016
  • Tui in the Fall

    “The Tui trip was an amazing way to see the Southern Island. It gets you to places that would be very difficult to access on your own visiting New Zealand for a couple of weeks. Guides were wonderful and very entertaining. Would suggest it to anyone wanting to see the beauty of the South Island”
    Kelly Dennis – Washington, United StatesMay 2016
  • Fantastic 'trip itinerary' lead by 2 of the best guides

    “This is one of the best outdoor trips my wife and I have ever taken. The scenery to the trek sites is just fantastic and the trek routes are real great.
    We had 2 of the best guides ever!! The driving, guiding and the food preparation were just superb - kudos to Dave and Jasmine :)”
    Peter Tan – Sarawak, MalaysiaApril 2016
  • Tremendous Tui!

    “8 days of intense activity but soooo worth it! Great company, amazing places and just sheer awesomeness - from hiking up mountains, biking around beautiful lakes to jumping off mountains, small planes, jet boats and sea kayaks. Laughs and spills coupled with the odd glass of New Zealand wine - what more could you ask for!”
    Gwen Morgan-Fox – Berks, United KingdomApril 2016
  • Generally a great trip.

    “Generally a great trip.”
    Holly Gambill – Washington, United StatesApril 2016
  • Very well organized with great Guides

    “Overall the trip was very well organized and the guides were great. The guides were very knowledgeable about the areas visited and they kept us entertained with their experiences. The food & accommodation over the trip was quite good and I understand all well vetted by the Active team over the time they have been running their tours. Understandably some accommodation was basic, to other a little more lavish (like in Queenstown) based on the area we travelled through…however in general is was all very comfortable.

    The activities were also well organized - with most of the hikes being relatively easy (and some options for harder ones). As a portion of each day is spent travelling the mode of transport becomes key – the 20-seater bus was definitely a lot more comfortable with us just being a small group of 8.

    Was my first time in New Zealand and definitely was a great tour to get a glimpse of some of the divers areas of the south island.”
    Ankush Sanan – , Hong KongApril 2016
  • Loved Mel!!

    “I really enjoyed hanging out with Mel during our overnight trip in Siberia Valley, she took excellent care of us and even remembered that I don't eat refined carbs...she was super attentive and kind. Hope to see her in another adventure.”
    Leanne Chen – California, United StatesApril 2016
  • Active Adventures knows how to take care of their guests!

    “From the booking process to last day of my trip, all Active Adventures staff made me feel so well taken of! They answered questions, were friendly, professional and worked with my special requests going above and beyond to make sure my trip was a success and just what I was looking for! I was so appreciative of their efforts!”
    Eden Zang – Hawaii, United StatesApril 2016
  • Awesome Introduction to South Island gems!

    “My TUI was absolutely AWESOME! Just the perfect way to be introduced to the gems of NZ's South Island with plenty of (official) firsts, well-planned and managed activities, fun and awe! Conquering my 1st trails mountain biking (all 29km++of it, 1st biking stint of any sort) was definitely one of the highlights of my TUI. Kayaking 12km++with my husband on the Milford Sound in almost surreal downpour, snoozing fur seals, penguins and, countless breathtaking waterfalls sealed the magnanimous beauty of TUI. Then, there were the 1st class trails; to get to run on 1st class trails such as up and down The Divide, Mount Shrimpton, Rainbow Reach was my dream come true. And finally, our wonderful guides, Jasmine & Dave with their generous relentless energy, warmth and efficiency absolutely sealed a truly memorable Kiwi adventure! Thumbs-up awesome!”
    Julie Teo-Tan – Sarawak, MalaysiaMarch 2016
  • An incredible way to see the South Island!

    “My husband and I were impressed with our guides ability to walk us through the beauty and diversity of the South Island. We felt very well taken care of and were able to see and do things I could have never planned on my own.”
    Anjali Pinto – Illinois, United StatesMarch 2016
  • Great trip


    The trip was amazing. We saw extraordinary sights and the group compatibility was fantastic, enhanced by our guides, who took on all the planning and potentially stressful details. The perfect choice of music and humour and Katie's wonderful legends about the Maori explanations for things really enlivened the trip. The aspect of the trip that was most positive and exciting for me was to see that my aging body could do more than I thought that it could. I could see myself getting stronger every day. I could do things that I had cut out of my life ( I have a shoulder with chronic problems and a damaged knee) and I can still hike and even kayak. That is the most powerful take home message. Now the trick is to continue to hike and kayak now that I am home!!! I liked how Katie and Clara responded to how people were progressing- not judgmental or encouraging--both can feel patronizing. They were there as a supportive presence. ”
    Sarah Lawton-Speert – British Columbia, CanadaFebruary 2016
  • Beautiful beyond expectations

    “New Zealand was amazing and stupendously beautiful! The Tui trip enabled us to see some very remote parts of NZ, and experience the naturalistic beauty up close through our hiking and kayaking, and even during the bus travel between stops. The trip was paced very well and was a good balance between activities and down time. The guides made it easy to relax and enjoy what the South Island had to offer.”
    Kathy Clark – Pennsylvania, United StatesFebruary 2016
  • Mark hatter's review

    “The guides were superb, the sights were fantastic...lots of fruits and snacks which was great! We did spend more time than we expected on the buss traveling between sights. Really enjoyed the mountain biking and would liked to have had option to do more. Not sure why we had day off in Queenstown in the Middle of the trip, it was not strenuous that required a rest day. Would have liked a contiguous trip with added day of activity (mountain biking?)”
    Mark Hatter – Florida, United StatesFebruary 2016
  • Beautiful Country!

    “Positives were the two wonderfully knowledgeable guides, Amanda and Rachel; the constant fresh fruit; the beautiful roadside "weeds'"; the stunning hikes and equally stunning rivers from babbling trickles to full blown rivers, and almost as good as the overall scenery was getting to experience a culture of courtesy everywhere we went. And although I did not like the hours spent traveling from activity to activity, it is probably the only way to cover all that we experienced within a short week's time.”
    Vicky Hatter – Florida, United StatesFebruary 2016
  • Worth every penny

    “We love to travel alone normally, doing our own thing and enjoying the privacy and 'together' time. But when we were going such a long way from home we thought it best to get some help from experts. Active Adventures didn't disappoint. We're already recommending them to others, for their support before the trip and the extensive choice and adaptability of the organised trips. Rebecca and I are quite different in our abilities and approach to adventure, and neither of us was disappointed really in what we got from the trip. ”
    Lisa Bragg – Jersey, United KingdomJanuary 2016
  • Tui Trip -Dec 2015 / Jan 2016

    “A fantastic way to see the West Coast of the South Island, enjoy some terrific tramps and breath taking scenery.”
    Rebecca Keating – Jersey, United KingdomJanuary 2016
  • Tui Trip

    “James and Laura were awesome. Best days were when the were lots of hiking and activities, especially when the day started with those. Starting a day with lots of bus travel was not enjoyable for me.”
    Wayne Bewley – Indiana, United StatesDecember 2015
  • Tui

    “Helen and I had a great time on the Tui trip. Katie, our guide, was spectacular and kept us moving and entertained the whole time. We saw so many great sights and loved all the different activities we did in a weeks time.
    We will be back to New Zealand!”
    Neil Garvey – New Hampshire, United StatesMarch 2015

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.

Get your FREE Brochure Now!
Active Adventures Brochure