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4 off the beaten track Active Adventures on the South Island

Highly recommended by Adventure Magazine

We’re often perplexed by just how little Kiwis have visited places like Siberia Valley and Nelson Lakes National Park. Perhaps it’s because we’re used to spending all our precious annual leave on overseas trips far away. With limited time on our hands to explore our own backyard, we tend to tick off the bucket list items first such as Milford before venturing further from the main trails. Or, perhaps we just don’t know where to begin and how to tackle some of these more remote spots! Here are a few of our all-time favourite to get you started.

Fly, hike and jetboat in the Siberia Valley – Mt Aspiring National Park

Siberia Valley, an adventurer’s paradise, lies just within Mt Aspiring National Park. The valley boasts a mecca of activity, from backcountry hiking to glacier treks, scenic flights and jet boating. If you’re lucky enough to spend the night in one of the areas backcountry huts, you’ll wake the next morning as the fog lifts out of the valley floor to reveal some of the most spectacular alpine views. With expansive tussock flats and the Southern Alps right at your feet, your hiking boots can wander and explore for hours in this truly remote backcountry bliss!

If you’re after some finer touches to your wilderness experience in Siberia, we’ve got you covered. Active Adventures are experts at taking folks into the backcountry and showing them some of the more off the beaten track hiking spots while also placing a focus on creature comforts. If a beautifully prepared candlelit dinner after a big day out hiking sounds right up your alley, then you’ll feel right at home with Active.

Check out the 4-day Siberia Valley Adventure ‘Tawhai’ (September-April)

Hike to Angelus Hut – Nelson Lakes National Park

You might want to lock this one in quick before the tourists flood back into beautiful Aotearoa, because this hidden gem isn’t going to be kept secret for long. Nelson Lakes National Park, located towards the top of the South Island, is home to one of our all-time favourite overnight hikes….The Angelus Hut Circuit. Promising a variety of tramping from gentle lakeside walks to more challenging climbs, you can complete the circuit in just 3 days. The second hut on this journey, Angelus Hut, sits superbly in the grandest of landscapes. Perched right up in the mountains, you’ll find this beautiful escape is one of the truest kiwi experiences you can find and with no phone reception, you’ll return to your car the following day feeling very content.

With no road access, you’re guaranteed an authentic backcountry hut experience as opposed to some of the more commercialised options. You’ll need to carry in an overnight pack with you and while we might seem bias, there are certainly perks doing this overnight hike trip guided! You’ll be so pleased to have a couple of our Active guides in tow as they carry the lion’s share of the load for you. Pots, pans, dinner and breaky ingredients… it doesn’t get better than that!

They’re not just there to help carry some of the gear though… there’s also the safety aspect about going guided. When you’re a wee bit unfamiliar with your surroundings and perhaps a bit apprehensive about some of the terrain that lays up ahead, your fully first aid-trained guides will get you from A to B with no worries while also giving you the space to spread out and go at your own pace / enjoy the trail to yourselves.

Check out the 5-day Nelson Lakes Backcountry Adventure ‘Rotoiti’ (September-April)

Bike the scenic Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail

We all know there aren’t many countries where you can experience the mountains and the ocean within just a few days. On wheels, you’ll cover some epic ground as you pass through New Zealand’s high country. Being one of the lesser travelled parts of New Zealand, the Alps 2 Ocean trail takes you from Mt Cook towards the rugged Pacific Ocean and coastline of Oamaru.


While the scenery is certainly one of the biggest drawcards here, this 5 to 6 day bike journey offers more than just this as it travels past quaint towns, each offering its own unique kiwi experience (there’s no better way to support local!). If you’re after more adventure, you’ll want to take to the skies and give gliding a go! For those wanting to give the pins a wee break, we recommend sampling some local wines while soaking your muscles in a hot tub and enjoy world-class stargazing (where the sky itself is a world heritage reserve!).

Also, an important factor about this trip is that you will of course need a bike! We know it can be a little bit of a hassle lugging your bike with you on the plane from afar so we’ve made sure we have some of the best quality trail bikes all ready to rumble for you when you arrive. There’s something nice about having these types of nitty-gritty details taken care of for you… not to forget having someone take care of navigating trails, finding you a place to rest your head each night and where your next meal might be in some of these smaller towns… After traversing these trails for a number of years we think we’ve nailed the good local spots and we promise you’ll feel well fuelled along the way!

Check out the 6-day Alps to Ocean Biking Adventure ‘Whanui’ (September-April)

Bike the Central Otago Rail Trail

Lastly, a must do for all those getting back on the bike (saddle), the Otago Rail Trail is a unique biking journey rich in history (and old pubs!). If you’re wanting to immerse yourself in the splendour of the South Island and explore the remoteness of Central Otago, this trail invites you to do just this. Best enjoyed at a leisurely pace, you’ll uncover the old gold mining settlements and diverse scenery throughout the region, from roaring gorges to rugged landscapes.

Check out the 4-day Otago Rail Trail Biking Adventure ‘Kaewa’ (September-April)

A lot of people originally set out to do these types of trips solo but end up joining us as they realise they’ll get to see and do so much more with their limited time. You certainly don’t want to run the risk of spending your entire trip running logistics on the fly! Plus, our guides often say what a hoot a group dynamic can bring to these trips and how they have meet some of the most fascinating people in their lives from group adventures.

Visit activeadventures.com/new-zealand to see all our trips, or call us at 0800 234 726 to speak to one of our adventure planners about your dream New Zealand adventure!

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