Fortunately for you, this lot come recommended by fellow backpackers.
Meet the finalists for ‘Best Tour/Activity – New Zealand’ at this year’s Golden Backpack Awards…
AJ Hackett has been throwing people off bridges since 1988 – starting out with a couple of Kiwi blokes in pursuit of the ultimate adrenaline buzz. Back in the 1980s, AJ Hackett – a young Auckland builder with a love of thrill-inducing sports – discovered a ritual by Pentecost Islanders by which men throw themselves off 35 metre-high wooden towers, with their ankles attached to vines. Inspired, AJ Hackett has since jumped more than 1million people. As well as bungy jumping, AJ offers bridge climbing, zip-riding and a go on the world’s biggest swing.The crazy team help get the buzz going, and they are proud New Zealanders, proclaiming to be “Kiwi-as Bro!”
G Adventures has grown from a one-man show nearly 25 years ago to a company of more than 1,350 staff worldwide, and from offering a handful of trips in Latin America to hundreds of adventures spanning the globe. What hasn’t changed is G-Adventures’ passion for making sure you get behind the scenes to experience the real world in an authentic and sustainable manner. Offering an inspiring selection of affordable small-group tours, safaris and expeditions, the award-winning trips embrace authentic accommodation, exotic cuisine and local transport to put travellers on a first-name basis with the planet’s people, cultures, landscapes and wildlife.
Canoe and Kayak Taupo
Whether you are interested in guided kayaking tours, kayak courses or information on various kayaks and accessories to purchase, then start your journey with Canoe and Kayak Taupo. Friendly staff will give guidance to help every step of the way. Kayaking is, after all, one of the best ways to explore the beauty of Lake Taupo.
Travelling with Contiki isn’t about ticking the boxes, but those eye-opening moments in time that stay with you for life. Its tour managers are travellers; they live and breathe Australia, so they have tons of tips to share for amazing local experiences. They’re right there with you when you need them; and when you don’t, they’re taking care of all the gritty details – getting you checked-in to your hotels, arranging meals and sightseeing – giving you plenty of space to make it what you want. Contiki offers lots of exclusive experiences – look out for the ‘Only Contiki’ symbol on each itinerary.
Dolphin Seafaris NZ Ltd
Dolphin Seafaris is situated in the heart of the Bay of Plenty, a huge marine playground surrounded by vineyards and lush orchards, close to the major tourist attractions of Rotorua and Lake Taupo. Enjoy this very special and unique natural experience with wild dolphins, both common and bottlenose that are resident in huge numbers swimming in the crystal clear waters of the Pacific Ocean. Many thousands of dolphins live in the bay, so your chances of viewing these awesome creatures in their natural habitat are far greater her than anywhere in New Zealand.
Elm Wildlife Tours
Join Elm Wildlife Tours to experience an unrivalled close-up viewing of rare yellow eyed penguins, Hooker’s sea lions, NZ fur seals and little blue penguins within the restricted wildlife conservation sanctuary. See albatross at Taiaroa headland and other wildlife around Otago peninsula bay and lagoons. Accompany enthusiastic and expert guides to some of the most spectacular wildlife spots, inaccessible to others, to ensure an absolutely special wildlife experience of a lifetime. Elm Wildlife Tours is a multi-award-winning family owned and operated business with more than twenty years’ experience in wildlife conservation and tours.
Franz Josef Glacier Guides
Franz Josef Glacier Guides is an internationally recognized guiding operation established in 1990, which prides itself on providing the most incredible glacier experience. Combining traditional guiding techniques unique to New Zealand with modern innovations, the guides are able to access glacier terrain normally only seen by experienced mountaineers. Franz Josef Glacier Guides is a wholly owned New Zealand business and another true NZ experience from Ngai Tahu Tourism.
When you travel around NZ with Haka Tours, you get so much more than a bus pass. The trips are bursting with value and all include accommodation and breakfast, a guided tour of every location visited, included activities, surprise stops and experiences on the way. Haka Tours delivers the experience of a lifetime.
Hop aboard the Maiden of Milford for the Jucy Cruise Milford Sound boat cruise and marvel at one of the most stunning places on earth. Relax in the modern catamaran while being spoilt with unlimited close-up viewings of waterfalls, wildlife and rainforest from the three viewing decks (both inside and out). Milford Sound is one of the world’s most stunning locations. The spectacular Jucy Cruise will take you the length of the fiord to the Tasman Sea and back in uncrowded comfort complimented by the famous Jucy service.
Kiwi Experience is the leading hop-on, hop-off backpacker bus New Zealand experience; designed by travellers for travellers. Drivers know when to stop the bus and soak it in, and when to keep on cruising and leave the tourist traps behind. See New Zealand’s big highlights and incredible places so hidden even Peter Jackson couldn’t find them. Whether you’re an adrenalin junkie, a culture seeker, a beach bum, or have come to see the most awe-inspiring landscapes in the world, Kiwi Experience is the trip of a lifetime. You couldn’t have a bad time if you tried.
NZone Sky Dive
Tandem Skydiving in Queenstown since 1990, NZONE Skydive was NZ’s first Tandem Skydive operation and is the only Tandem Skydive company to have won New Zealand’s Supreme Tourism Award. The mission is to deliver the ultimate adventure experience to each customer through personal service, and secure the NZONE brand as being synonymous with quality, safety and excitement. Formed by two parachute enthusiasts back in 1990, the company is relaxed yet professional.
Shotover Canyon Swing
Travel 15 minutes from Queenstown in a 4WD vehicle, take an easy three-minute bush walk and arrive at Shotover Canyon Swing, a purpose-built, cliff-mounted platform on the edge of a cliff 109m above the Shotover River. Leaving the safety of the platform, freefall 60m down into the canyon until the rope smoothly swings into a giant 200m swing. Complete a couple of massive swings before slowly coming to rest. Awesome.
Skydive Bay of islands
Skydiving over the Bay of Islands is arguably the most scenic and picturesque skydive you can do in New Zealand. Experience the 144 islands of the Bay of Islands and view the curve of the earth from more than two miles up. Skydive Bay of Islands is certified to the highest possible standard by New Zealand’s Civil Aviation Authority, ensuring all skydives will not only be exhilarating, but also one of the safest and most highly regulated.
Located in Queenstown and Rotorua, Skyline New Zealand is home to the ultimate gondola and luge experience. As well as the tranquil uphill gondola ride and the thrilling downhill luge tracks, Skyline offers plenty of other things to do in New Zealand such as walking tracks, mountain biking trails, cultural experiences, adventure activities and great dining options, all with unsurpassed scenic views.
Stray’s mission is to get further off the beaten track in New Zealand, immersing travellers in places and activities that will amaze and enthral. To name a few: an overnight stay on a real marae (Maori meeting ground), an authentic farm stay experience, a lodge set deep in native bush, a wildlife stop-over on Stewart Island or a night by NZ’s highest mountain. All of these and more are exclusive to Stray. Driver guides receive market-leading training to help take travels around the country; as well as being a local “guidebook” they provide commentary, book beds and activities, and provide information on anything from New Zealand history and culture to the best drinking spots. Drivers are consistently mentioned when passengers talk about their favourite things on Stray.
Taupo Tandem Skydiving
You are sure to be a bit nervous when arriving at the drop zone. You are, after all, about to jump out of a plane… but the friendly staff will explain everything needed to know before the skydive, providing jumpsuits, harnesses, parachutes (obviously) and experienced tandem masters. The beauty of tandem skydiving is that you don’t have to worry about a thing. Leave it to the experts, who have taken more than 170,000 people skydiving, to do all the work while you get busy screaming your head off.
The Legendary Blackwater Rafting
The Legendary Black Water Rafting Company is New Zealand’s first black water rafting adventure operator. Sharing thrills and excitement since 1987, experienced guides will take rafters safely through the stunning underworld of Ruakuri Cave. What began as a special treat for a brave few has developed into a spectacular tourism attraction that gives visitors of all ages the chance to abseil, weave, jump, climb, and float through a glow-worm-studded subterranean wonderland at Waitomo Caves.
Often described as the best one-day hike in New Zealand, the Tongariro alpine crossing provides an opportunity to experience some of the most scenic, volcanically active areas of the park. Travellers will take a journey so remote and intensely dramatic that it puts life into perspective – and Tongariro Expeditions are the ones to do it with.