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The World's 25 Best New Trips: 'Hoiho Wildlife'

National Geographic Adventure magazine - November 2006

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What's new: Ask any group of experienced guides about their dream trips, and chances are they'll rattle off dozens of options. This year Queenstown-based Active Adventures New Zealand invented a creative way to take advantage of all this unrealized trip-planning potential: The outfitter inaugurated an annual competition among its guides to design the best trip around New Zealand. The winner, of course, would get to lead his or her entry. 

On the ground: After trekking in the shadows of 12,316-foot (3,754-meter) Mount Cook, you'll set out on a three-day hut-to-hut hike along Warmington's favorite trail, the five-year-old Hump Ridge Track. Tucked into the southwest corner of the South Island, the 35-mile (56-kilometer) route has two new backcountry mountain lodges and offers stellar views of both Lake Hauroko, at 1,516 feet (462 meters) the country's deepest lake, and the moody mountain ranges of Fiordland National Park. The trip culminates with an overnight cruise through isolated Doubtful Sound, where you'll explore waterfall-draped shorelines populated by seals and gape as the sun dips into the Tasman Sea.

Trip Reviews

  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 15866 reviews)

    Awesome!

    Great hiking, awesome scenery, terrific guides, delicious food and more than comfy accommodations !
    Cal Hoppe Review Image
    – Arizona, United States
    Manuka, April 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 15866 reviews)

    Rimu—Feb., 2018

    Could not have been happier with our guides, their level of preparation/organization and the stunning scenery of the South Island.
    Tom Townes Review Image
    – North Carolina, United States
    Rimu, February 2018
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 15866 reviews)

    North Island Kauri

    The North Island was an amazing adventure. We were kept busy hiking, biking snorkelling and kayaking, and our guides were very easy going and helpful in every way. We saw and experienced more of the Maori culture, the large Kauri trees (words cannot describe), and felt the love and appreciation of the Maori people for the land, birds and all living species. It was great to have them guide us through the kauri forests. The trip is spit in half in the middle with a day in Aukland, and the first half we had 12 in the group and the second half there were 13 (A lot) in our group. I prefer smaller groups. The scenery was amazing, Natalie and Jasmine were amazing as well. An AMAZING trip! Loved it!
    Colleen Clark Review Image
    – Ontario, Canada
    Kauri, March 2018
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 15866 reviews)

    Like an Inca in Peru

    This trip was better than I could've ever expected. The Inca Trail was the most incredible hardest thing I've ever done both mentally and physically and I could not have done it without our guide Zac and my new found friend Cynthia. Machu Picchu was the perfect culmination to the pilgrimage. The rest of the trip and all of my other wonderful new friends including our guide Erick will never be forgotten. I will be talking about this trip for years to come and cannot wait to go on my next Active Adventure!
    Jennifer Kenna Review Image
    – New York, United States
    Jaguar 2017, November 2016
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 15866 reviews)

    Rimu is Wonderful - A few tips if you plan to go...

    My husband and I took the Rimu trip in early November 2016 and had a really terrific time. I encourage everyone who is seriously considering the Rimu to go ahead and sign up. That being said, with all of the fun we had, I do wish we had known a few things ahead of time. I include these tips for you, the soon-to-be Rimu traveler, to make your trip more enjoyable. However, I can promise that even if you do none of these things, you will still have a marvelous time:

    1. Guys, if you opt to snorkel with the fur seals be sure to shave your mustache before you leave home. It seems obvious now, but it never occurred to my husband that the mask wouldn’t seal properly to his face with his mustache. Do yourself a favor and shave it off or spend the afternoon dealing with a leaky mask.

    2. I also wish I had known just how intense and challenging the 3-day multi-hike through Nelson Lakes would be. If you’re an office worker and occasional hiker like me, then I encourage you to take this trip but do lots of practice/fitness training in advance. Load up your pack and get on the stair-master or start climbing really steep hills. The hike is gorgeous and worth it, but I can promise you it will be a lot more enjoyable if you’re in good shape for it. Also, there are no showers at the huts and only latrines (port-a-potties) for toilets, so bring baby wipes for exactly the same reason you would use them on a baby (wink wink). And also bring hiking poles! I know it says optional on the gear list, but I really found them to be essential. As for the water bottle – leave that at home and invest in a good water bladder system (a “Camelback” or similar). We found the water bottle to be a hassle to take in and out of the bag (forcing us to stop each time), which made us want to drink less water. The water bladders allow you to keep moving and you’ll find you’re more hydrated.

    3. The sea kayaks (and, honestly, New Zealand in general) are not made for people over 6’ 2” in height (187 cm). Watch your head everywhere you go, and as for the kayaks, it may help to have the taller person sit in the front seat of the kayak instead of the back.

    4. Also, pack enough clothes for a week and then expect to do laundry. Bring some travel-sized laundry soap packets to help save money and make sure you have enough 1$ and 2$ coins for laundry before you get to the hotel (the machines are generally pretty expensive: about $3 for the washer and between $3 - $5 for 30 minutes in the dryer).

    5. Bring good cycling shorts – yes, the ones with the weird-feeling padding on the bum. It will help prevent the dreaded ‘grumpy grundle’.

    6. And finally, a heads-up to my fellow outgoing introverts (yes, we exist): this trip contains long days of social interaction (think 7:15 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.), with few breaks for introspection/solitude. If you need some down time, skip dinner or unfurl all of the emergency blankets and build your own fort at the back of the bus and hang a sign that says, “Stay Out!” (just kidding about that last one).

    A great big thank you to our guides, Rachel and Jordan, who were informative and helpful beyond measure. How they managed to remain cheerful and engaging considering they had to do all of the exertion we clients had to do, plus all of their work on top of it, is beyond me. They are the embodiment of Kiwi hospitality! We are already thinking of coming back for a North Island tour sometime soon.
    Lauren Gerth Review Image
    – Missouri, United States
    Rimu, November 2016

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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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