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2009 Best Adventure Travel Companies On Earth

National Geographic Adventure Online

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For the second time in as many years, we've conducted an unprecedented survey of adventure travel companies, based on the idea that a traveller's most important decision is not always where to go but who to go with. For the 2009 edition, we spoke to more guide services—and their clients—than ever before.

Active Adventures New Zealand overall score: 89.80 

New Zealand's most popular destinations get special treatment by this outfitter. While most tourists see Milford Sound from the deck of a cruise ship, Active Adventures New Zealand clients navigate sea kayaks among the fjord's seals and dolphins. And whereas the majority of visitors to Mount Cook catch just a quick glimpse of New Zealand's highest peak, Active Adventures New Zealand groups stay for two nights at a high-country sheep farm overlooking Mount Cook. Then they spend a full day hiking in Mount Cook National Park. The lodging is eclectic, from mountain huts to an apartment in Queenstown.

Ultimate South Island Adventure 'Rimu'; hiking, sea kayaking, biking; 14 days

Rating Criteria Scores
Overall: 89.80
Quality of service: 92.00
Sustainability: 83.50
Spirit of adventure: 94.50
Education: 89.00
Client satisfaction: 90.00

Trip Reviews

  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 15866 reviews)

    Perfect Trip for anyone who loves Nature!

    If you enjoy being outdoors and like to challenge yourself this trip is for you. I wasn't an avid hiker before signing up for the Rimu trip but after reading the itinerary I knew I couldn't pass up this amazing opportunity. You never know what you are capable of until you try and that is how I feel after climbing up to the Angelus Hut and hiking to Mueller ridge. I had never climbed a mountain before (since there are no mountains where I live) but the views are more than worth the climb.
    This trip is the best way to see all that the South Island has to offer, it is the perfect balance between adventure, relaxation, self-exploration, and cultural immersion. Anyone can go to New Zealand and rent a car and go hiking, biking, and Kayaking; however, they will miss out on the best parts of traveling to a new place and that is the knowledge and culture that only someone who lives there would know. The guides (Tory and Vanessa) were awesome! Tory is an amazing cook, and Ness was great at making jokes and keeping the atmosphere cheery during the longer drives. I loved listening to the guides tell us about the Maori people and the local legends or folklore. I actually thought Ness was lying to me when she would tell me that the views get better after being left speechless by the scenery, but every day was better than the previous!
    I have to mention the FOOD!!! The food alone is enough for me to sign up for this trip again. When I travel I don’t always know what the local food is or would be but with this trip the guides cook you all sorts of local food and all the food is fresh and delicious. If you don’t like something they will make sure to accommodate you.
    Ness and Tory made you feel like this was a trip among friends and family, not strangers. I will come back to New Zealand again!
    Brian Heinz Review Image
    – Wisconsin, United States
    Rimu, May 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 15866 reviews)

    Trip of a lifetime

    I have been to some pretty far away places around the world like Cambodia, Tanzania, Norway and France. As unique and fun as they all were, none of them can top the amazing experience I had in Nepal with Active Adventures. Everything was incredible throughout the whole trip, the food was incredible, every lodge we stayed in was great. The people above all were so nice and caring. The sightseeing was mind blowing and beautiful. This trip was everything I expected it to be and more.
    Brynn Mehan Review Image
    – Colorado, United States
    Khumbu, April 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 15866 reviews)

    Great trip with fun and knowledgable guides. Accommodations and food were great.






    David Brodie Review Image
    – Washington, United States
    Kauri, April 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 15866 reviews)

    Incredible family trip!

    We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and our guides did an excellent job being understanding of the food allergies of my daughter
    Makenzie Birkey Review Image
    – Minnesota, United States
    Kea, July 2016
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 15866 reviews)

    Annapurna Sanctuary Trek

    Great trip, well organized and guided. Our guide Amanda (Button) and Nepalese guide Shree were a lot of fun to spend time with. They managed the pace of the trek well and all came through with no problems. The weather this time of year turned out to be excellent. I'd do another trip with Active.
    Dick Lester Review Image
    – Washington, United States
    AST, October 2017

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Why travel with Active Adventures?

Above all, we aim to be amazing hosts. We're proud of our kiwi roots, and our professional, warm and relaxed style of running trips around the world is unforgettable.

We're VERY picky about who we select to work in our team, and we have people from all over the world lining up to guide our trips. So we get to hire the absolute BEST in the business.

As soon as you get off the plane, we've got all the details of your vacation covered – top notch meals, comfortable transport & accommodation, amazing guides and INCREDIBLE service.

Whether you’re new to adventure travel, or you’ve never travelled in a group before, you’ll find yourself arriving home positively different from when you left.

With our small groups (no more than 14), you'll get to know our team, your fellow travellers, and have the flexibility and freedom to do as much (or as little!) as you like.

It's all about getting there under your own steam – on foot, in a sea kayak, or by bike. What better way is there to experience mind blowing scenery? If it's your first time, no worries – our expert guides have got you covered.

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