Escape Magazine

Escape Magazine

Escape Magazine article - April 1999


Kathy Singleton took one look at her itinerary for a three-week trip in New Zealand, and her eyes popped out of her head. The 46-year-old Colorado resident had unwittingly signed up for a multisport adventure outing and discovered that her trip's menu of activities read more like the scorecard for an adventure race than a vacation: trekking, mountain biking, sea kayaking, whitewater rafting and horseback riding, with a little caving and glissading thrown in for good measure. "I love the outdoors," Singleton recalls thinking, "but I'm no triathlete."

A week after returning home, Singleton now laughs at her pre-trip jitters. "It was an amazing experience. So much variety. I still can't believe how much we did, and we never felt rushed." Not only did Singleton and friends enjoy all the sports their Active Adventures New Zealand tour promised, but they even started creating a few of their own. "We were kayaking in Milford Sound when a pod of dolphins showed up," says Singleton. "We started riding the wake." Dolphin surfing became a bonus activity during this eventful swing through New Zealand.

Multisport trips, which combine several activities into one action-packed tour, are the latest phenomenon in adventure travel. It's the answer for anyone who wants to squeeze every ounce of experience and electrolytes out of their vacation. If numbers are any indication, it's the right answer, too. Multisport journeys have become one of the fastest growing segments of the industry. At Backroads, the adventure giant, multisport departures increased by 60% in 1998 - and the company has since added 12 more of the trips to its new catalog.

What's the appeal? Variety, for starters. With the help of a precision timetable, a slew of high-tech gear and expert leaders (and maybe an extra cup of coffee every morning), a multisport adventure delivers far more diversity in a short amount of time than, say, a typical trekking or biking tour. As in Singleton's case, a three-week trip can become a smorgasbord of once-in-a-life-time activities. "One day I was rafting down the Clarence River; the next day I was pedaling through a flock of sheep in the mountains and galloping on horseback down a secluded beach," she says. "I couldn't have done half the things we did if I'd planned it myself."

The smorgasbord approach multiplies trip highlights for any given destination. On a Backroads Wyoming outing, for instance, travelers are treated to a taste of the best road and mountain biking, river rafting and hiking in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. And the logistics of getting all these pieces together are out of your hands. "It's more complex from a gear and scheduling perspective, but it's well worth it," says Backroads guide Christopher White. "I love leading the Yellowstone trip because it's so exciting for everyone. We get to do the best of everything for a week."

For most travelers, it's the only way to take their favorite sports on the road without the hassle of schlepping gear all over the world. "We do a lot of biking, rafting and hiking at home," says Rob McAlister, who decided to take his family on a trip to Belize, "so we definitely wanted an active trip." They got one. On a nine-day tour with Slickrock Adventures, the McAlisters went biking through a tropical rainforest, hiking to Mayan ruins, rafting a Class IV river, paddling an underground stream and sea kayaking, snorkeling and scuba diving along the world's second largest barrier reef. McAlister could have added windsurfing to the list, but he opted for a training session on a hammock instead.

If this all sounds like a trip for Type AAA personalities only, as the McAlisters learned in Belize, smart operators schedule enough hammock time (or an equivalent) so that travelers won't need a vacation when the vacation ends. "We never had to get up at four a.m. or finish late at night," says McAlister. "Everything was set up so it was easy to go from one activity to the next."

The combination of go-go-go and rest-rest-rest can result in a somewhat schizophrenic balance of hard play and hedonism. A long day on difficult single-track might culminate with a stay at a luxurious jungle lodge complete with cocktail hour and five-course dinner. This philosophy of extremes has struck the right chord for travelers who like the rewards of a rigorous day with a soft landing at the end of the trail.

Susie Anderson and Mike Richardson found the combination a perfect balance for their honeymoon trip. They didn't want the typical newlywed beach package ("We'd get bored."), but neither did they want to rough it on a trekking or camping tour. They settled on a multisport trip to the Yucatán. "It was the right amount for a relaxing, active vacation," reports Anderson. "Hiking and biking allowed us to get off the road and see the country the way we wanted to."

Multisport trips fall into two general categories. Some, like the New Zealand and Belize jaunts, specialize in variety, stacking half a dozen different activities into a typical itinerary. Other outings, like the Backroads Yucatán trip, take a lighter approach. By toning down the activity load, these trips aim to provide a little more time for each of them.

"We want each ingredient to be at the absolute top end of what's available," says Glenn Rowley, director at KE Adventure Travel, which offers a Nepal tour with three activities. The 20-day package includes an ambitious trek in a little-visited Himalayan region, a white-knuckle whitewater descent of the Marsyangdi River and a mountain bike tour above the Kathmandu Valley. "It's just the right mix," reports Los Angeles-based Patricia Christie, who joined KE for the inaugural trip. "You get into a groove at something and you get to keep doing it, but you also see a lot of varied geography by switching sports."

Naturally, the physical demands are a consideration when planning this sort of trip. You don't need to be a fitness instructor, but it's worth checking out the particulars. Find out how many days are spent on each activity, what sort of equipment is included, and if you have to pay extra for rentals. Find out how many miles are covered per day. Are there qualified instructors for the technical portions of the trip? Are rest days scheduled? What are the options for participants who need a break or want to skip Class IV whitewater? Then ask yourself what your fitness level really is. Be honest.

Most multisport adventures are tailored to the moderately active, and, while it's best to do your own homework, operators usually go to great lengths to match clients with the right activity level. Some may go even further. Latitudes - a San Francisco based tour operator specializing in Asia, New Zealand and Australia - is collaborating with a local gym to create customized training programs for clients who sign up for a multi-adventure trip.

The constant change of pace itself may turn out to be a benefit for freshman multisporters. Kathy Singleton found the daunting variety of activities on her New Zealand tour to be a blessing in disguise: "We were constantly working different muscle groups so I never got very sore," she says. " It was like cross-training."

Of course, this can be an expensive way to cross-train, so remember that what you're paying for are experiences you can't create on your own. Look for outfitters that not only provide a late model mountain bike - in your size - in the deepest jungle, but can also offer offbeat activities that add to the overall diversity. For example, on a Burmese journey, Latitudes includes a unique sailing segment. You can also strap into a climbing harness for a rainforest canopy tour in Costa Rica (Active Journeys), saddle up for camel ride in Morocco (Backroads), or paddle an underground river by headlamp in Belize (Slickrock Adventures).

A whirlwind of activity awaits you, but it's all part of a simple theme. As every traveler knows, it's not just where you go, but how you get there.

Hear from our Happy Guests
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Arches & Canyonlands Adventure - May 2024

really nice trip thanks to cool weather and great guides

"We were blessed to have cool weather that made hiking and biking easy. The hotel was in a great location and the people were very friendly. The best part was the Hummer tour.

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"We were blessed to have cool weather that made hiking and biking easy. The hotel… read more

"We were blessed to have cool weather that made hiking and biking easy. The hotel was in a great location and the people were very friendly. The best part was the Hummer tour. read less

5 Stars (58 reviews)

S Sherry | May 2024

Croatia Adventure - May 2024

Cycle the Sunny Isles of Croatia

"Ascend mountains that suddenly drop away to reveal a panorama of tile roofed Mediterranean villages, sailboats moored in little bays, and more islets and the Adriatic Sea beyond. Hike through olive groves and vineyards, smell the lavender and rosemary growing wild along the trail. Enjoy fine dining at small local restaurants where the owner knows the guide and brings platters of delicacies grown locally and the seafood catch of the day. Sample wines with the owner of the vineyard whose family has maintained it for several generations, wines sold only in Croatia. This was a very small and intimate travel experience with excellent guides.

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"Ascend mountains that suddenly drop away to reveal a panorama of tile roofed Mediterranean villages,… read more

"Ascend mountains that suddenly drop away to reveal a panorama of tile roofed Mediterranean villages, sailboats moored in little bays, and more islets and the Adriatic Sea beyond. Hike through olive groves and vineyards, smell the lavender and rosemary growing wild along the trail. Enjoy fine dining at small local restaurants where the owner knows the guide and brings platters of delicacies grown locally and the seafood catch of the day. Sample wines with the owner of the vineyard whose family has maintained it for several generations, wines sold only in Croatia. This was a very small and intimate travel experience with excellent guides. read less

5 Stars (43 reviews)

E Elizabeth | May 2024

Croatia Adventure - May 2024

Second time and just as amazing as the first!

"Croatia multi sport was our second trip with Active, after doing Netherlands cycling last year. This was an awesome full immersion trip into so many aspects of the country! Busy but had just enough down time to relax. Fun activities, great meals and learned so much history. Small group, awesome guides and an absolutely seamless and smooth experience. Active Adventures knocks it out of the park again!!

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"Croatia multi sport was our second trip with Active, after doing Netherlands cycling last year.… read more

"Croatia multi sport was our second trip with Active, after doing Netherlands cycling last year. This was an awesome full immersion trip into so many aspects of the country! Busy but had just enough down time to relax. Fun activities, great meals and learned so much history. Small group, awesome guides and an absolutely seamless and smooth experience. Active Adventures knocks it out of the park again!! read less

5 Stars (43 reviews)

A Andrew | May 2024

Arches & Canyonlands Adventure - May 2024

Keith

"Everything from pre trip communication to post trip followup was awesome (especially everything in between). Guides Joel and Steve were great and took care of all the details so we had truly no worries and were both informative and entertaining.

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"Everything from pre trip communication to post trip followup was awesome (especially everything in between).… read more

"Everything from pre trip communication to post trip followup was awesome (especially everything in between). Guides Joel and Steve were great and took care of all the details so we had truly no worries and were both informative and entertaining. read less

5 Stars (58 reviews)

K Keith | May 2024

Ultimate North Island Adventure - April 2024

Great Trip

"This was a terrific trip and a great overview of the North Island. It was a follow up to our trip with Active Adventures eight years ago of the South Island. I was surprised that the trip took place as my wife and I were the only participants. Despite that, our guide, Braden, was absolutely wonderful. He was enthusiastic about sharing his homeland with us and very knowledgeable. He has a great sense of humor, was flexible and very attentive all along the way. It was a pleasure to spend two weeks with him.

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"This was a terrific trip and a great overview of the North Island. It… read more

"This was a terrific trip and a great overview of the North Island. It was a follow up to our trip with Active Adventures eight years ago of the South Island. I was surprised that the trip took place as my wife and I were the only participants. Despite that, our guide, Braden, was absolutely wonderful. He was enthusiastic about sharing his homeland with us and very knowledgeable. He has a great sense of humor, was flexible and very attentive all along the way. It was a pleasure to spend two weeks with him. read less

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T Tom | April 2024

Ultimate North Island Adventure - April 2024

Beyond Expectations

"We traveled with Active Adventures 8 years ago to see the South Island of New Zealand. We didn't didn't hesitate to book with them this year when we wanted to see the North Island of New Zealand. Active Adventures did not disappoint. The physical beauty of New Zealand was only surpassed by the warmth of its people and specifically our guide Braden.

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"We traveled with Active Adventures 8 years ago to see the South Island of New… read more

"We traveled with Active Adventures 8 years ago to see the South Island of New Zealand. We didn't didn't hesitate to book with them this year when we wanted to see the North Island of New Zealand. Active Adventures did not disappoint. The physical beauty of New Zealand was only surpassed by the warmth of its people and specifically our guide Braden. read less

5 Stars (381 reviews)

M Martha Van | April 2024

Ultimate Machu Picchu & Galapagos Islands Adventure - April 2024

One the the BEST trips I’ve ever been on!

"Our Peru/Galapogos trip with Active Adventures was awesome!! We had Zac as a guide for our Peru part of the trip, Pepo for our Galapagos portion. They were both very knowledgeable and passionate about showing us the history and beauty of where they are from. Zac was hilarious, kind, and understanding and even had us over to his beautiful house for lunch one day for authentic Peruvian food catered by his family’s catering company. Pepo also is a wonderful guide. We were able to go to his parents’ farm on San Cristobal Island, climb up into their boat/tree house, which was really fun! It’s impossible to describe all the wonderful information they taught us in this paragraph…but I do plan on requesting Zac for a Northern Patagonia trip in the future - he was THAT wonderful!!!! And if I go back to Galapagos, I would definitely ask for Pepo!!!!

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"Our Peru/Galapogos trip with Active Adventures was awesome!! We had Zac as a guide for… read more

"Our Peru/Galapogos trip with Active Adventures was awesome!! We had Zac as a guide for our Peru part of the trip, Pepo for our Galapagos portion. They were both very knowledgeable and passionate about showing us the history and beauty of where they are from. Zac was hilarious, kind, and understanding and even had us over to his beautiful house for lunch one day for authentic Peruvian food catered by his family’s catering company. Pepo also is a wonderful guide. We were able to go to his parents’ farm on San Cristobal Island, climb up into their boat/tree house, which was really fun! It’s impossible to describe all the wonderful information they taught us in this paragraph…but I do plan on requesting Zac for a Northern Patagonia trip in the future - he was THAT wonderful!!!! And if I go back to Galapagos, I would definitely ask for Pepo!!!! read less

5 Stars (67 reviews)

J Joyce | April 2024

Ultimate Galapagos Islands Adventure - April 2024

Very active adventure, as promised!

"We had a wonderful time on this trip. Our guide and assistant were absolutely the best. Pablo is probably one of the best nature and historical guides on any tour and anyone would be lucky to have him as their Galapagos tour guide.

The accommodations included great breakfasts, large and clean rooms and were all very centrally located. Great hotel for meeting in Quito at the beginning and end of the trip as well.

The rest of the food on the trip was also delicious and plentiful.

We also very much enjoyed the company of our fellow travelers and look forward to keeping in touch with them.

Overall this was an amazing trip with a great itinerary, interesting people, and friendly, safe and informative guides.

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"We had a wonderful time on this trip. Our guide and assistant were absolutely the… read more

"We had a wonderful time on this trip. Our guide and assistant were absolutely the best. Pablo is probably one of the best nature and historical guides on any tour and anyone would be lucky to have him as their Galapagos tour guide.

The accommodations included great breakfasts, large and clean rooms and were all very centrally located. Great hotel for meeting in Quito at the beginning and end of the trip as well.

The rest of the food on the trip was also delicious and plentiful.

We also very much enjoyed the company of our fellow travelers and look forward to keeping in touch with them.

Overall this was an amazing trip with a great itinerary, interesting people, and friendly, safe and informative guides. read less

4 Stars (505 reviews)

D Denise | April 2024

Ultimate Galapagos Islands Adventure - April 2024

Galapogos

"I was very impressed with this trip. I wanted to be amazed and Active Adventures delivered, I learned or saw something new almost every single minute of the trip, each day was a stunning experience. Our guide Pablo was worth every penny Active Adventures must pay him with his wealth of information and ability to teach. Client safety was always paramount no matter where he was taking us.
Paolo was a workhorse with the sweetest disposition and always approachable. I could not believe the efficiency of his timing for our transportation, loading our luggage while we ate, and taking care of the smallest requests. He was wonderful. We never waited for transportation, our accomodations were always ready when we arrived, plus he was so much fun to be around.
This trip was extremely well organized with an interesting variety of activities. Each day was full and my only frustration was the lack of time to relax, explore, or shop. I actually skipped a couple dinners so I could do just that; grab an icecream, leisurely walk the beautiful beach, and watch a sunset.
I loved this trip! Thank you

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"I was very impressed with this trip. I wanted to be amazed and Active Adventures… read more

"I was very impressed with this trip. I wanted to be amazed and Active Adventures delivered, I learned or saw something new almost every single minute of the trip, each day was a stunning experience. Our guide Pablo was worth every penny Active Adventures must pay him with his wealth of information and ability to teach. Client safety was always paramount no matter where he was taking us.
Paolo was a workhorse with the sweetest disposition and always approachable. I could not believe the efficiency of his timing for our transportation, loading our luggage while we ate, and taking care of the smallest requests. He was wonderful. We never waited for transportation, our accomodations were always ready when we arrived, plus he was so much fun to be around.
This trip was extremely well organized with an interesting variety of activities. Each day was full and my only frustration was the lack of time to relax, explore, or shop. I actually skipped a couple dinners so I could do just that; grab an icecream, leisurely walk the beautiful beach, and watch a sunset.
I loved this trip! Thank you read less

5 Stars (505 reviews)

J Julie | April 2024

Ultimate Galapagos Islands Adventure - April 2024

Our Guide made this trip

"Pablo and Paolo were our guides and they made this trip special. From when they picked us up at the San Cristobal Airport to when we departed Santa Cruz, we were treated like the only guests on the islands. Pablo shared his knowledge of the islands, with enthusiasm. His story about the 2005 Sierra Negra Volcanic eruption was captivating. The boat rides between the islands held special memories. We saw a pod of about 40 whales including babies who were then joined by a pod of dolphins. This was mind-blowing. We spent 24 hours on Floreana Island, another special place. The black beaches and tortoise nursery were spectacular. I feel that my time on the islands was well spent and due to Pablo and Paolo, my knowledge of the area increased exponentially.
The travel between Quito and the Galapagos is long. On the first full day of travel, Pablo and Paolo packed in a lot of activity after the plane ride. On the day we returned to Quito we had one stop at a crater on our way to the airport. Once we arrived at our hotel in…

read more

"Pablo and Paolo were our guides and they made this trip special. From when… read more

"Pablo and Paolo were our guides and they made this trip special. From when they picked us up at the San Cristobal Airport to when we departed Santa Cruz, we were treated like the only guests on the islands. Pablo shared his knowledge of the islands, with enthusiasm. His story about the 2005 Sierra Negra Volcanic eruption was captivating. The boat rides between the islands held special memories. We saw a pod of about 40 whales including babies who were then joined by a pod of dolphins. This was mind-blowing. We spent 24 hours on Floreana Island, another special place. The black beaches and tortoise nursery were spectacular. I feel that my time on the islands was well spent and due to Pablo and Paolo, my knowledge of the area increased exponentially.
The travel between Quito and the Galapagos is long. On the first full day of travel, Pablo and Paolo packed in a lot of activity after the plane ride. On the day we returned to Quito we had one stop at a crater on our way to the airport. Once we arrived at our hotel in Quito we were on our own, that is not all bad, I was exhausted. Breakfast the following morning, day 10, was the last day we saw our travel companions.
I'd like to mention this was my first experience as a single traveler. The guests on these "active" trips have a similar mindset and are very welcoming. read less

5 Stars (505 reviews)

L Lee | April 2024

Classic South Island Adventure - April 2024

Magical New Zealand

"Our New Zealand Adventure was amazing and phenomenal. So many layers of landscape, adventures, experiences and friendships. Today we cruised the Fiourds of Milford Sound and hiked a final trek. And said "until next time" to some special people in a unique place that is truly "Middle Earth!" #activeadventures

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"Our New Zealand Adventure was amazing and phenomenal. So many layers of landscape, adventures,… read more

"Our New Zealand Adventure was amazing and phenomenal. So many layers of landscape, adventures, experiences and friendships. Today we cruised the Fiourds of Milford Sound and hiked a final trek. And said "until next time" to some special people in a unique place that is truly "Middle Earth!" #activeadventures read less

5 Stars (540 reviews)

L Laurie | April 2024

Netherlands Biking Adventure - April 2024

Tiptoeing through the Tulips!

"We had an extraordinary experience through the Netherlands. Initially, we were very concerned about the mileage on our bikes each day. Being 80 and 72 years old we were by far the oldest in the group. We also chose not to use an electric bike which gave us all the more of a challenge, especially during the days of relentless headwinds on a long dike. The exceptional character of our guides, Mirjam and Tom put forth a remarkable degree of effort to make every moment of our trip special. When I said my hands were so uncomfortable from cold Tom pulled out a bag of oversized winter gloves.... when Mirjam witnessed me hopelessly loosing ground biking into the strong headwinds she pedaled right beside me for miles talking with me, distracting me, encouraging me, and eventually getting me to our final stop.

The tulips were in full bloom, we enjoyed this colorful bit of nature most everyday. A cacophony of color opened up before us as we wound our way next to fields and fields of tulips, quaint villages with bridges and canals and the ever necessary dikes.

Everyday…

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"We had an extraordinary experience through the Netherlands. Initially, we were very concerned… read more

"We had an extraordinary experience through the Netherlands. Initially, we were very concerned about the mileage on our bikes each day. Being 80 and 72 years old we were by far the oldest in the group. We also chose not to use an electric bike which gave us all the more of a challenge, especially during the days of relentless headwinds on a long dike. The exceptional character of our guides, Mirjam and Tom put forth a remarkable degree of effort to make every moment of our trip special. When I said my hands were so uncomfortable from cold Tom pulled out a bag of oversized winter gloves.... when Mirjam witnessed me hopelessly loosing ground biking into the strong headwinds she pedaled right beside me for miles talking with me, distracting me, encouraging me, and eventually getting me to our final stop.

The tulips were in full bloom, we enjoyed this colorful bit of nature most everyday. A cacophony of color opened up before us as we wound our way next to fields and fields of tulips, quaint villages with bridges and canals and the ever necessary dikes.

Everyday was filled with a bit of culture, history, vigorous biking, wonderful dinners, and a true sense of accomplishment. read less

5 Stars (84 reviews)

P Paula | April 2024

Netherlands Biking Adventure - April 2024

Excellent Cycling Trip

"The guides, Tom and Mirjam, were amazing. Perfect mix of cycling and touring sights. They made sure to point out spots of interest and provided running commentary on the history of areas we were traveling through. We were well fed and looked forward to our rest stops.

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"The guides, Tom and Mirjam, were amazing. Perfect mix of cycling and touring sights. They… read more

"The guides, Tom and Mirjam, were amazing. Perfect mix of cycling and touring sights. They made sure to point out spots of interest and provided running commentary on the history of areas we were traveling through. We were well fed and looked forward to our rest stops. read less

5 Stars (84 reviews)

N Nicole | April 2024

Classic South Island Adventure - April 2024

A memorable time with incredible people and jaw-dropping scenery

"This was a trip like one I've never taken and I'd leap at the chance to go on another adventure with this group. I appreciated the small group setting where we really got to know each other. There was a great mix of team activities and the ability to be in smaller groups or be someone solo if desired. The trip was well-planned and every detail covered. Thank you for a fabulous week!

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"This was a trip like one I've never taken and I'd leap at the chance… read more

"This was a trip like one I've never taken and I'd leap at the chance to go on another adventure with this group. I appreciated the small group setting where we really got to know each other. There was a great mix of team activities and the ability to be in smaller groups or be someone solo if desired. The trip was well-planned and every detail covered. Thank you for a fabulous week! read less

5 Stars (540 reviews)

L Lauren | April 2024

Classic South Island Adventure - April 2024

Awesome experience!

"Our Classic South Adventure was such a wonderful experience. Our group of travelers were all very laid back and great to get to know despite the variation from very experienced travelers to a few members on their 1st such trip. I cannot say enough good things about our guides Brogan and Lauren! They made us feel so welcome and comfortable from the very start and spoiled us rotten with all the terrific meals and personal care. They are so great at sharing their personal knowledge and experiences of New Zealand culture/life. Despite some small changes to our itinerary due to mechanical issues; we were still able to do all the adventures planned thanks to our expert problem solving Super Guides. Our group felt like long time friends and family by the end of our tour. I highly recommend Active Adventures and will be joining another trip in the not too distant future!

read more

"Our Classic South Adventure was such a wonderful experience. Our group of travelers were all… read more

"Our Classic South Adventure was such a wonderful experience. Our group of travelers were all very laid back and great to get to know despite the variation from very experienced travelers to a few members on their 1st such trip. I cannot say enough good things about our guides Brogan and Lauren! They made us feel so welcome and comfortable from the very start and spoiled us rotten with all the terrific meals and personal care. They are so great at sharing their personal knowledge and experiences of New Zealand culture/life. Despite some small changes to our itinerary due to mechanical issues; we were still able to do all the adventures planned thanks to our expert problem solving Super Guides. Our group felt like long time friends and family by the end of our tour. I highly recommend Active Adventures and will be joining another trip in the not too distant future! read less

5 Stars (540 reviews)

M Mariah | April 2024

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