Experience Elegant South New Zealand with a Walking Tour

Scenes of South Island, New Zealand. Photo: Active Adventures.com

Mountains, lakes, glaciers, rain forests, and golden sand beaches with crystal clear water are just the beginning of the diverse description of New Zealand, the island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean first inhabited about 1,000 years ago. Defined by two main parts, North Island and South Island, the approximately 104,000-square-mile country encompasses some 600 smaller islands and is located around 1,200 miles east of Australia.

To get there, it takes three hours by plane from Australia, 13 hours from Los Angeles, 16 hours from Chicago, and almost a full day from New York City. The spectacular scenery, adventure activity, and amazing food and wine make the trip especially worthwhile.

What better way to see this unspoiled country filled with extraordinary sights and passionate people? A walking tour, of course! To get you started planning, we reached out to Active Adventures, specialists in active New Zealand tours designed to get you off the beaten track with local experts.

Traditional maori carving and Taranaki Mount, New Zealand. Photo: DepositPhotos

Cultural Melting Pot

A wonderful melting pot of cultures, New Zealand culture is influenced by the Maori, the indigenous people, and the Europeans who arrived later. A third of the land is protected through parks and reserves, making New Zealand’s wilderness inviting and spectacular. The intertwining of gorgeous landscapes and wine and food experiences with adventurer tourism makes New Zealand a top contender on many people’s travel wish lists.

North Island and South Island have much to offer. If you’re about to embark on your first trip to Kiwi country, you might like to try this special tour arranged by Active Adventures

Marlborough Sounds, South Island, New Zealand. Photo: ActiveAdventures.com

Explore the South Island

New Zealand’s South Island is renowned for its mountains, lakes, and glaciers. The Southern Alps, home to 3,764-meter-high Mt. Cook, run along the entire length of the island. In the southwest is Fiordland National Park, home to the steep-sided fiord Milford Sound. In the north is Abel Tasman National Park, known for its trails and ocean kayaking. And Queenstown is famed for adventure sports like bungee jumping and skiing.

What better way to explore New Zealand than with a guided tour combining walking, hiking, jet boating, and more.

Hear From the Travelers

Mitch and Camille Lindborg, 65 and 56 respectively, searched for a walking tour that wasn’t too strenuous. They were looking for a way to combine walking with water activities, ranging from boating to the beach. They found the perfect trip with Active Adventures “Elegant South – Kakapo.”

“All we had to do was to show up. They took care of everything,” said Mitch.

“There were nine people in our group, so it was very personalized,” Camille said. “We would hike for a couple of hours and sometimes picnic or take a swim with the picnic on the beach. The scenery is too incredible like Talisman Park. The beaches are beautiful and the water warm. Plus, we were always learning about the flora, fauna, and local culture.”

For the Lindborg’s, the nice casual pace was perfect. “The guides took us to places you might not get to on your own. We loved it!” Camille said.

martin o connor new zealand photos

(Clockwise from top left) Martin O’Connor hiking/walking the Milford Track; Milford Sound and surrounding mountains;Aerial view of Queenstown from the top of the Skyline Gondola; Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown. Photos: Martin O’Connor

Martin O’Connor, a man in his early 70s and who lives in Vancouver, had had New Zealand on his bucket travel list for a number of years. He first dreamed of rafting, kayaking, and serious hiking, but he decided to tone down his over-the-top energetic ideas with the choice of a hiking trip combined with time at the beach, visits to wineries, and excellent cuisine. His research led him to the tour operator Active Adventures because of the small group size, professionalism, and personalized attention.

“The walks were fairly easy going with some up, some down, and traipsing over rocks. This was something I could handle. I wasn’t the fastest one in the group, but a guide always made sure I was okay,” O’Connor said.

As these travelers found, Active Adventures offers the ultimate guided tour of South Island, led by local hosts who are proud of their Kiwi roots and offer professional, warm, and relaxed tours in small groups of no more than 14 travelers.

“You need to be reasonably fit. I do work out and go to the gym. The walks were challenging, but we weren’t climbing up the sides of the mountains,” said O’Connor. “My advice to anyone who thinks about traveling to New Zealand is go! People are extremely friendly and courteous, and you’ll find a certain ambiance there that is really special.”

Inspired? Thinking of taking a walking tour of New Zealand?

new zealand activeadventures.com

Hiking in New Zealand; Pelorus ‘Circle Walk’. Photo: ActiveAdventures.com

Elegant South – Kakapo

Ready to plan your trip and wonder when to go? Keep in mind that the seasons are opposite of those in the U.S. with summer from December to February and winter from June to August. Then, choose a tour operator that can take you on your active vacation with just the right mix of activity, culture and relaxation. Oh, and of course, fabulous food.

Here’s what the Active Adventures Elegant South – Kakapo adventure offers …

The all-encompassing South Island 11-day journey takes you through picture-perfect coastal areas at the top and bottom of the island. On the trip, you will experience clean, sandy beaches with crystal-clear water, beautiful coves and inlets with turquoise waters, and lush rainforest in the Marlborough Sounds.

You will stay in secluded, comfortable lodges here and on the Hollyford Track, which starts and ends with a spectacular helicopter ride between Milford Sound and the isolated and mesmerizing Martins Bay.

Queenstown provides the perfect anecdote to the tranquility of these areas with its cosmopolitan hustle and excitement. If you’re looking for a broad and varied experience, to relax as well as walk, and enjoy the unique aspects of the finest coastal areas, then look no further.

Queenstown New Zealand

Queenstown, New Zealand. Photo: ActiveAdventures.com

Picnics are part of the adventure. You will be treated to local foods and wines, and along the way, you will learn about the land and culture of New Zealand.

Activity Level

The Kakapo tour suits people who enjoy short walks and traveling without sacrificing any of the comforts of home. Typically, walks on the Kakapo trip range between one and three hours to complete, and there are often shorter and longer alternatives if you prefer. Do call them to talk about the best option for you.

Awarpa New Zealand

Awaroa. Photo: ActiveAdventures.com


Walks (2 to 3 Hours)

  • Abel Tasman Coast Track
  • Queen Charlotte Track
  • Kaikoura Peninsula
  • Hollyford Track


Milford Sound

Plus …

  • Whale watching in Kaikoura
  • Delicious wines of Central Otago
  • Exploration of Queenstown
  • Helicopter flights to and from Martins Bay in remote Fiordland National Park

Full details: Elegant South Kakapo tour

For more information, email info@newzealandwalkingtours.com

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