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Best New Zealand tours?

This might just be the most important page you’ll read on our site, so it’s worth a few minutes of your time. Read on!

New Zealand Trails operate “The Best” hiking, walking and adventure tours in New Zealand. Bold claim. Can we back it up? Yep!

Our claim to be “The Best” is based on five unique aspects of the New Zealand Trails experience. These are:

The Magic 5

  1. Our sole focus on New Zealand
  2. Our decades of experience in New Zealand adventure travel
  3. Our New Zealander guides
  4. Our exclusive access to extraordinary places
  5. Our commitment to providing you with exceptional value


1. Our sole focus on New Zealand.

We only operate trips in New Zealand. New Zealand is our home, and with its astonishing diversity and accessible size it’s all you need for the trip of your lifetime.

Luxury hiking, Okarito Trig walk

Gorgeous Okarito is the sort of place only specialists know about!

With the initial success of our trips came the temptation to expand into other countries; something we’d done in the past in other companies. But something held us back.

Co-founders Andrew and Nigel have both owned global tour companies before, so engaging subcontractors to run trips in Spain, Tibet, or Timbuktu sounded exciting on paper. But after much soul searching they realised that expanding our brand all over the world would steal focus from our own wonderful country. So New Zealand it is. Just New Zealand. Our home.

2. Our decades of experience in New Zealand adventure travel.

New Zealand Trails is the life’s work of three of New Zealand’s most seasoned operators - Andrew, Jodi and Nigel.

The Originals

Back to where it all began - from left: Andrew, Jodi and Nigel.

Our experienced founders began their tourism careers in the 1990s, our fabulous guides are industry specialists and the team in our office are no newbies either.

Our CEO and co-owner, Andrew Fairfax, BA and law degree in hand, started out  in 1994 as a 24-year-old guide and has since spent his entire career in New Zealand travel.

Co-owner, Jodi Narbey, took a BA in history and hit the world with a backpack on, first guiding overland trips in Africa for hardy souls, then coming home to spend many years working with Andrew’s previous company.

Our other co-owner, Nigel Williamson, traded in his city suit for hiking boots in the 1990s to pursue his career in adventure travel. Nigel has founded several companies, including the largest dive company in New Zealand.

All three have founded, owned or been part of larger travel companies, they’ve seen first-hand what works and what doesn’t, and now, with each pushing the “50-something” zone, they’ve learned what matters most. Hint: it’s not piling our trips high with as many people as we can! It’s the smiles on the faces of our clients, and the raving letters we get when they get home. They’re of an age where quality matters more, where it’s become clearer than ever that the best things in life are free, and the most precious resource is time. We keep things small and personal. We want to know your name, to find out what you want to get out of your New Zealand experience, and we will make it happen.

3. Our New Zealander guides.

Discerning adventure travellers know that local is best, and in New Zealand adventure travel, “local” is us.

new zealand trails tour guide in Siberia Valley

Off the beaten tourist track? Our super-guide Finn knows all these places inside and out!

Our Kiwi guides have a passionate desire to share their country with you and make sure your experience goes well beyond that of a ‘normal’ tour. We don’t have discriminatory hiring practices - in fact our office team is a mix of Kiwis and honorary Kiwis who have chosen to make New Zealand their home. It’s just our guides that need to be walking encyclopedias on Kiwi life, culture, geography and history and that generally comes with being born, bred and educated here.

We doubt that your ideal is to be taken around New Zealand by a guide who’s been here a few months longer than you, which is common in this industry. Larger travel companies often hire foreign guides, here for a season or so to do some ‘fun’ work for a while. We take a serious and committed approach - there’s a great deal at stake here. When we need extra guides, we cast our net widely and choose very carefully from a broad pool of applicants. Our guide selection program is thorough, our training is the envy of the industry, and our team of elite guides are true ambassadors for New Zealand. They are well-travelled themselves, mature, capable, wonderful human beings, and leaders through and through.

Are we the only company that only uses New Zealanders to guide their trips? Maybe, maybe not. But we are certainly the only well-established guiding outfit we know of that guarantees that your guides will be New Zealanders.

If we had to choose only one reason to back up our claim of being ‘The Best’, that’d be it – our guides.

4. Our exclusive access to extraordinary places.

Together, we’ll visit parts of New Zealand that are only possible due to years of experience and great relationships with our industry partners.

New Zealand Trails scenic flight into Siberia Valley

Take a scenic flight to hike in a remote valley and then jet boat back into civilisation - all with just you and your group! The Siberia Experience defines exclusive.

On a New Zealand Trails trip, you’ll visit places you might not see by any other means. We work closely with local Maori landowners, government officials, and the owners and operators of all sorts of interesting little places. You’ll gain access to rarely visited areas in our wildest National Parks, hidden private lodges and the opportunity to hike into the most beautiful surroundings. You will see the New Zealand that we share with our family and friends.

Why not just stick to the main tourist route? It’s simple. Less crowds. New Zealand is ever-growing in popularity, but we want to share with you our New Zealand, not necessarily the New Zealand of the guidebooks. Yes, you’ll experience the bucket list locations like Milford Sound, Mount Cook, Queenstown and so on – but depending on your trip you’ll also get to sleep in a traditional Kiwi ‘bach’ (the Beach House at Okarito, pop. 30), visit working sheep farms (not tourist facsimiles) – or hike into the remote Hollyford Valley, where we’ve gained special access. No-one can buy relationships, or trust, with the locals. We’ve earned it over many years, through working closely with our network of friends and partners all over New Zealand.

5. Our commitment to providing you with exceptional value.

You may only visit New Zealand once, and time, once spent, is gone forever. Your time and money with us will be well spent. You’ll have the best possible experience of New Zealand and go home with a grin on your face and a spring in your step.

Lake Ohau Quarters, Canterbury

Is that a glass of wine we spot in the tub? Yes, it is! Is that traffic in the distance? Not a chance!

There are many ways to see New Zealand, but some are better than others. A self-guided tour in a campervan can be great fun, although you might be surprised at the total cost of even a “cheap” trip. Our trips are all-inclusive, so you can leave your pocketbook at home. No surprises.

We reckon that by a certain point in life, many people have come to the conclusion that it’s important to spend time and money carefully; that the best way is preferable to the cheapest way. Our efficient company structure, with its primary focus on running your trip, means we can afford to put your dollars straight back into your trip, to ensure you stay in the best possible lodges, dine well, travel in comfort and enjoy the best level of guiding that money can buy.

We’re not here to offer you any-old tour, we’re here to share with you an all-encompassing New Zealand experience, to learn a little or a lot, to feel energized and active, and to have the time of your life.

How does that sound?

You don’t have to take our word for it! If you’d like to read some reviews of our trips, or talk to someone who’s taken a New Zealand Trails trip in the past, let us know. You won’t find us plastered all over the internet, because we keep things small and personal and put time in where it matters. We put your dollars into your trip, not into fancy marketing agencies, PR agencies, copy writers, SEO specialists and the like.

Previous guest referrals are responsible for nearly half of our bookings, which we reckon means we must be doing something right!

When you’re looking at options, don’t be afraid. Peek behind the advertising speak and fat marketing budgets and see exactly what you’re getting for your time and money. Go ahead. We’ll be here when you get back!

Want to know more? Request our free brochure