Top 10 Trips of 2023
2023 was a massive year for active travel. It was great to see so many Adventure South travellers hit the trails with us last year, exploring New Zealand in the best way possible... cycling and hiking.
Reaching over 1000 website reviews, what better way to celebrate the best of New Zealand adventures than a countdown of the most popular Adventure South trips for last year. Hopefully, these kind words from our travellers will inspire you to venture outdoors and discover more of New Zealand in 2024.
These are your 10 most highly reviewed trips in 2023.
10. Explore Milford, Hollyford and Stewart Island Trails
Coming in at number 10, this 7-day hiking trip ventures away from the crowds and tourist destinations as you discover the awe-inspiring Milford Sound, Hollyford Valley and unspoiled natural beauty of the wildlife-rich Stewart Island by foot. You'll also be able to tick off 3 of New Zealand's Great Walks -- the Routeburn, Kepler and Rakiura Tracks.
Here's what Laurie said about the trip:
"Absolutely amazing trip! The trip takes you to some of the most beautiful areas on the South Island. There were so many highlights to this trip - the helicopter ride over Milford Sound, the hikes on Stewart Island, the jet boat rides, and the scenery along the drives too! Great accommodations and a fun group of folks to travel with round out the experience. Guides Chris and Heather were absolutely wonderful; super informative, fun to be around and they made sure we were all very well taken care of. Looking forward to travelling with them again one day!" - April 2023
Read more 2023 trip reviews here.
9. Milford and Fiordland Hike, Bike and Kayak
The South Island's Fiordland has always been an incredibly spectacular destination in New Zealand. There is nowhere else in New Zealand where the mountains rise up out of the water, rich rainforests cling to sheer rock faces or waterfalls crash hundreds of metres to the sea below than in our gorgeous Milford Sound.
Here's what Dina said about her tour back in November:
"The trip was amazing to say the least! The itinerary was full of a variety of activities and the guides - Chris and Lewis - were awesome; they were very knowledgeable about the places we were visiting and worked tirelessly to give us the best time." - November 2023
Read all 2023 trip reviews here.
8. Ride back in time on the Classic Otago Rail Trail
Riding New Zealand's most iconic cycle trail is a must-do when you're here. Cycled by more than 10,000 riders each year, our gentle 5-day Otago Rail Trail Classic cycling tour allows you to soak in the history of the original NZ Great Ride, ride stress-free along the vehicle-free railway line and savour delicious local wine & food.
Here's what Linda from Australia had to say:
"I did the Otago Rail Trail Classic in March 2023. Our guides Fi and Jude were wonderful and were kind, helpful and professional. I enjoyed all the accommodation. It was varied, interesting, clearly chosen to give the feel of the area and I especially enjoyed the Schoolhouse where the hosts were friendly and we all enjoyed having a communal lounge. The food and coffee in NZ was consistently delicious, and the snacks provided were better than most tours healthy, tasty and always a fruit option too. The most important thing is always the guides and they were great."
Read more 2023 trip reviews here.
7. Combine Lake Dunstan with the Otago Rail Trail
If the Otago Rail Trail was number 8, it's no surprise that the combined Lake Dunstan and Otago Rail Trail 5-day tour was more popular. Spend a day riding the spectacular Lake Dunstan Trail, taking in the glistening water and stopping at our world-famous wineries for lunch.
Here's what Judy said about her trip:
"Wow what a great trip! Great weather, perfect company, accommodation was always comfortable and very interesting on our first two nights. Food just kept coming and our fabulous guides Pete and Steve could not have done more for us. There was never a dull moment on the ride and after we were always whisked away somewhere fun either wine tasting, curling or swimming." -- March 2023
Read more 2023 reviews of the trip here.
6. Discover the Best of the Southern Alps
With hiking becoming more and more popular we weren't surprised to see 2 hiking tours in our most reviewed list. It is a great way to escape the crowds and see the spectacular, natural beauty of New Zealand. The best way to describe this trip, is a dramatic 7-day itinerary showcasing some of the best treks in New Zealand's Southern Alps including day hikes to Rex Simpson hut, Beuzenberg Peak (2070m), and Mueller Hut.
With a glowing 5-star review, here's what Dianne said:
"Great trekking in a wonderful part of the world. The walks were challenging at times but achievable by all in the group, including those in the older age bracket. Our guides (Rob & Ollie) were excellent, always organised, encouraging and helpful with a good sense of humour. Rob also had an amazing knowledge of NZ's environment & history. The accommodation was varied but excellent, & having 2 nights at each venue took out a lot of the stress of packing up each day, allowing for more enjoyment of the beautiful environment. A highly recommended trip!" - December 2023
Read more 2023 reviews of the trip here.
5. Cycle to the remote Kaikoura & Molesworth High Country
Many travellers avoided the crowds and opted for a remote high-country adventure, jam-packed with a whale-watching expedition, wine-tasting tour and thermal hot pools as they journeyed through the vast Molesworth Station savouring the remoteness of the spectacular landscape.
Here's what Maureen said about her tour recently in December:
"Most memorable part of the trip was the Middlehurst Station stay - everything from the scenery to the hot tub to the wonderful hosts to the 4WD experience and education of the farm. Also, Rudy's knowledge of the plants/native wildlife and passion and knowledge of conservation. Kaikoura whale watching trip was magnificent!" - December 2023
Read more 2023 trip reviews here.
4. Ride the Alps to Ocean End to End
Our Alps 2 Ocean itineraries have always been popular and this year we saw more travellers taking on the full 320km of the Alps 2 Ocean cycle trail. But what makes this tour truly unique is the heli-ride, staying at Braemar Station and waking up to a view of Mt Cook/ Aoraki as well as the luxurious eco dome where you can watch the night sky from your bed.
Here's what Stephen from Canada said:
"This was a fantastic trip - great route and scenery, great and unique accommodations (shearers lodge and eco domes with outdoor bathtubs) great food and snacks and very helpful and knowledgeable guides. And a very nice group of fellow travellers. Can't think of any part that could have been better".
Read all Alps 2 Ocean End to End reviews here.
3. Get wild on the West Coast Wilderness Trail
Coming in third place was the West Coast Wilderness. New Zealand's West Coast is like unlike any other place in the country. Maureen travelled all the way from Hawaii to ride this cycle trail. We're going to let her words speak for the trip itself.
"It's hard to list all the amazing parts of this trip although let's start with the guides, Sean and Sam. Both were excellent bikers and really knew how to explain and describe the various aspects of each ride. In addition, they took extra care to make sure all riders were comfortable and confident with the activities. Moving on to the actual rides - each one was awesome! The views, flora and fauna, and trails were so fun. There was enough single track to get some excitement while also wide enough to chat with partners as you rode along. All accommodations and meals were fabulous with the best being meals provided by Col, an amazing host and chef. All around fabulous experience." - December 2023
Read more 2023 reviews from the West Coast Wilderness trail here.
2. Lake Dunstan and 3 Gorges
Why cycle one trail when you can cycle four?
Second place goes to a traveller favourite, the Lake Dunstan & 3 Gorges. The 5-day tour showcases the best cycle trails from Queenstown to Lawrence - the Lake Dunstan Trail, Clutha Gold Trail, Roxburgh Gorge Trail, Twin River Trail, Arrow River Bridges Trail and the Hawea River Track.
Here is what Dom and Madeleine had to say about this trip:
"Well-coordinated trip by two leaders who knew their stuff and who made the journey an adventure. Great trails, good equipment and excellent accommodations. The joke within the group was that it was a food trip that required some riding... Cheers for a great time!" - Don M
"The scenery was amazing. The guides were amazing. The weather was stupid hot but I still came away with a big smile on my face. Well organised, well catered and well looked after. I did the tour on a normal bike. Was it tough? Yes. Some of the hardest rides I have done. But I loved it." - Madeleine C
Read all 2023 reviews of the Lake Dunstan and 3 Gorges tour here.
1. Alps 2 Ocean Classic
With over 85 reviews last year, the Alps to Ocean Classic is a clear winner. We're going to let these reviews speak for the trip itself. Here are just a few of what our travellers had to say:
"Absolutely loved the Alps to Ocean cycling trip! The scenery was "majestical"; the accommodations were lovely and welcoming; the bikes were fantastic; and we received excellent service from booking to the trip end. Opting for an eBike definitely made the trip even more enjoyable. Highly recommend pre-booking the Omarama hot tubs - a relaxing soak with a well-earned beverage mid-trip was fabulous." - Gesine, May 2023
"The Alps to Ocean experience was everything we wanted and more. Many thanks to our awesome guides Steve and Wayne (second trip with Wayne). Loved the NZ scenery, people and food." - Ian L
But it wasn't just Gesine and Ian that gave incredible reviews...
Linda C - "Everything surpassed my expectations- the weather was also kind and gave up some sunshine and also cold days so that we could appreciate both!! Everything about the tour was excellent well-organised fun and so enjoyable"
Shelagh G - "We love travelling with Adventure South and have done so several times. You know you are with experienced guides when stretching out of your comfort zone and they have your back. They do their utmost for a smooth running and enjoyable trip. Highly recommend them."
Read all 2023 reviews of the Alps to Ocean Classic here.
Well, there you have it, your most highly reviewed trips for the year. Were there any that surprised you? With all that New Zealand travel inspiration you just read, we can't wait to see you out on the trails in 2024.