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Best Destinations & Attractions

The best places to visit in New Zealand. Come along, see it all!

If you're looking for the best natural destinations in New Zealand, you're in the right place. Kiwi's are passionate about their back yard, and believe that the best places to visit can't be seen from the window of a tour bus, but they're accessed on foot, behind handlebars, or with a paddle in hand.

So if you'd like to escape the crowds, discover the real New Zealand and get a great taste for kiwi culture and hospitalitly along the way - then read on for an introduction to the best places to visit when you're here. Take a look at which trips take you there, the best way to discover each destination, and see the best time to visit. 

If you can't find the answer to your questions here, then request a free brochure and tell us about your plans - we'd love to hear from you! Otherwise, give us a call or email us and we'll do our best to answer whatever query you might have. 

OUR TRIPS Get a Free New Zealand brochure

New Zealand's Top Destinations:

1. Milford Sound

Location: South Island
Highlights: Towering granite peaks, waterfalls, deep black waters, access point to the Milford Track.
Best time to visit: Year round.
Best way to see it: By kayak, as sun rises off the misty fjord.
Which trips go here: All New Zealand trips, excluding the 'Kauri'

  Milford Sound Kayaking with Active Adventures Large

2. The Milford Track

Location: South Island
Highlights: Towering granite peaks, ancient native forests, waterfalls, crystal clear rivers.
Best time to visit: Late October to late April.
Best way to see it: Hike from Lake Te Anau to Milford Sound. Finish the incredible hike with a boat cruise of the fjord. If you're lucky - your captain will nose the boat right into a waterfall, and keep an eye out for the local families of native fur seals and dolphins.
Which trips go here: 'Manuka' - Milford Hiking Quest

Hiking the Milford Track with Active Adventures Large

3. Nelson Lakes National Park

Location: South Island
Highlights: Off the tourist path, dramatic craggy mountains, tranquil beech forests, meadows of tussock, clear streams and stunning lakes.
Best time to visit: November through May.
Best way to see it: Hike from Saint Arnaud to Lake Head hut on day 1, Lake Head to Angelus Hut on day 2, Angelus hut back to the Mount Robert Road car park on day 3. 
Which trips go here: 'Rimu' - Ultimate South Island Explorer

Hike Nelson Lakes National Park with Active Adventures Large

4. Doubtful Sound

Location: South Island
Highlights: New Zealand's deepest fjord, similar to Milford - but less crowded, overnight cruise option
Best time to visit: The summer months - November through March.
Best way to see it: Take the overnight cruise option - it's a once in a lifetime opportunity to immerse yourself in such a peaceful and isolated part of the world.
Which trips go here:  'Manuka' - Milford Hiking Quest

  Doubtful Sound with Active Adventures Large

5. Fiordland National Park

Location: South Island
Highlights: Largest of New Zealand's 14 national parks. Access to Routeburn TrackKepler TrackMilford TrackMilford Sound.
Best time to visit: All year round.
Best way to see it: On foot, hike the great walks (check out the Great Walk Discovery on our ' Manuka' trip).
Which trips go here: All New Zealand trips, excluding the 'Kauri'

Visit Fiordland National Park with Active Adventures Large

6. The Tongariro Crossing

Location: North Island
Highlights: The world's greatest day hike, climb a live volcano, descend into lush native forest, stunning views of Emerald Lakes.
Best time to visit: All year round.
Best way to see it: Start at Mangatepopo car park and hike to Ketetahi car park. If you're feeling really adventurous, then take the hike and winter (ice axe and crampons are mandatory).
Which trips go here:  'Kauri'

  Hike the Tongariro Crossing with Active Adventures Large

7. The Wild West Coast

Location: South Island
Highlights: PunakaikiHokitikaFox GlacierFranz Josef GlacierOkarito Lagoon
Best time to visit: All year round.
Best way to see it: Hike the stunning Amazonian rainforests in Punakaiki and Franz Joseph. Hike or heli to the Fox and Franz Joseph glaciers, and sea kayak the picturesque Okarito Lagoon in the company of New Zealand's only white heron breeding colony.
Which trips go here: All New Zealand trips, excluding the 'Kauri'

  Discover the West Coast with Active Adventures large


OUR TRIPS Get a Free New Zealand brochure


Related articles:
Best time to visit New Zealand
What to do in New Zealand
Travelling to New Zealand

Trip Reviews

  •   4.60 out of 5 (from 1888 reviews)

    Birthday we'll never forget

    We expected a great trip with where we were going, BUT Active Adventures guides (Michele and Rachael) made it that much more special. Their knowledge, expertise and storytelling abilities made it fun and engaging. Accommodations were better than anticipated, they were great.
    An absolute must for those thinking about this type of a trip.
    Liz Clapp Review Image
    – California, United States
    Tui, February 2017
  •   4.70 out of 5 (from 266 reviews)

    Everything we hoped for and MORE.

    This was my first trip to New Zealand, and to the southern hemisphere. We had dreamed of this for many years, and it was so much more than we had even hoped for. So many memories and highlights: Morning alpine glow on Mt. Cook. Any day that it was sunny and you could see those amazing mountains. Turquoise alpine lakes. The day we spontaneously stopped at a deserted beach on the west coast, and saw Hector's dolphins frolicking. The picnic on the hill at Braemar's station. The nights at Braemar, the laughing and wine. Racheal (our guide) encouraging me and talking about growing up on a sheep farm while hiking up Key Pass. The stars at night - the Milky Way and upside down Orion! The mystical drive down to Milford Sound in the fog and light rain, and the clearing while on the boat. Going under a waterfall and just yelling in joy. The amazing, kind, funny and interesting people we met on our tour. If you are even thinking about it - go! You will not be disappointed.
    Jeannie Puglisi Review Image
    – Connecticut, United States
    Kiwi, April 2017
  •   4.38 out of 5 (from 1211 reviews)

    Well done, Andy & Jo

    Many thanks to Andy and Jo, guides to our 2nd half of the Kauri trip. The hiking was outstanding, and the varied other activities just made this trip that more special.
    Ted Jackson Review Image
    – Tennessee, United States
    Kauri, March 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 4984 reviews)

    Exceeded my Expectations. A Trip to Treasure.

    Active adventures provided an outstanding New Zealand experience. Our guides (Tory and Jordie) went above and beyond during our South Island Rimu trip. Their passion for the outdoors as well as the traditions and culture of NZ enhanced the two week journey. As guides, I was most impressed by their attention to detail and safety. I appreciated the warm smiles, gems of knowledge and yummy meals on even the challenging hike days. For my birthday, during the three day hike at Nelson Lakes National Park, Tory and Jordie surprised me with two delicious cakes to share with my new hiking family. A moment I will treasure, enhanced by the breath taking views of the alpine lake at Angelus Hut.

    The beauty of the country surpassed my expectations, particularly sites like Milford Sound and Mt. Cook. Such a diverse, lush landscape, each hike offered a unique perspective of the stunning views. Combined with the kayaking and biking options, allowed for an exciting and interesting mix. The highlight of my two weeks was my heli-hike on the Tasman Glacier, such an unforgettable experience.

    I'm looking forward to future Active Adventure trips, but will definitely keep a little piece of NZ in my heart. A truly bucket list destination.

    Gigi (from The Bahamas)
    Gigi Smith Review Image
    – West Virginia, United States
    Rimu, July 2017
  •   4.60 out of 5 (from 1888 reviews)

    Amazing Honeymoon Experience

    We decided to travel around NZ with Active Adventures for our honeymoon. What an incredible decision! All the logistics were taken care of for us, so we didn't have to worry about any of it while we were focusing on planning the wedding. The staff were terrific....excellent tour guides and went above and beyond for us. New Zealand itself is such a gorgeous place and was a great place to kick off married life. Active Adventures really does it right and the group sizes (max 14) are perfect. We had an amazing experience and plan to travel with Active Adventures again on our next adventure!
    Crista Cohen Review Image
    – Colorado, United States
    Tui, January 2017



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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