Skip to Main Content

New Zealand: The South Island Reviews

5 out of 5 stars

Biking, hiking and playing with friends

It was a great trip, with good friends and everything I had expected and more. It is a beautiful country and we enjoyed every part of the trip, including the before and after selections. We also met some new friends,our group was a very good mix, with 2 sets of families of 4, all adults, 4 couples and a single gentleman.

5 out of 5 stars

Trip of a lifetime! Paradise!

VBT has it right! The best way to experience New Zealand is to cycle, hike and kayak. If you only want to cycle on a VBT trip, I would suggest choosing a destination other than New Zealand. It is not the most cycle friendly country I have been to.

Lizzy, Atlanta, Georgia

3 out of 5 stars

Out of 12 VBT tours, this one needs more planning

VBT has always offered wonderful tours. New Zealand is absolutely SPECTACULAR. Our tour leaders were terrific! Their E-bikes are great, except they have no convenient spot for a water bottle. However, VBT needs to rethink each day of this tour: we spent way too much time traveling in the van; an entire one day bike route was spent on an extremely bumpy gravel trail (often freshly laid gravel), with the same blah scenery; VBT should have paid for at least one expert guide trip with the owner of the Wilderness Lodge (his knowledge is EXTENSIVE); this was supposedly a VIP trip, but even one of the trip leaders did not know! (by the way, explain VIP, because this was not what I would consider a VIP trip). It was an expensive trip and VBT’s offerings were not up to par with what I had anticipated.

Response from: Customer Service

As a follow-up to this appreciated feedback; we have made several tour improvements that our recent guest evaluations show have addressed the issues you mentioned. Thanks again for giving us the opportunity to improve this new trip offering!

Response from: Customer Service

Thank you for your review! With your feedback we will work with our team to improve this new trip wherever possible.

THaskell, Vermont

5 out of 5 stars

Our fav activities:biking, hiking, kayaking

We just finished our third VBT tour “New Zealand: Bike and Walk the South Island” in February 2018. The new format includes biking and walking on mostly trails plus two opportunities for kayaking through some of the most beautiful scenery New Zealand has to offer. The South Island has few paved roads and they are narrow with traffic. The new tour format takes place within the safety of bicycle and walking trails or “tracks”. Personally, I prefered not having to deal with the anxiety caused by traffic and it made for a more relaxed tour. The experience at the Wilderness Lodge near Lake Moreki provided some incredible experiences such as beach hikes, glow worm viewing and star gazing (We had a clear night sky). The Queenstown post trip allowed us to seek adventure on our own from a myriad of choices. I recommend the optional Milford Sound fly-cruise-fly tour offered by a local vendor. I highly recommend training for this trip by riding your bicycle on gravel paths or roads. Riding on gravel does require some skills and techniques that you do not get by riding on pavement. You should practice riding short up and down stretches of gravel. Work on controlling your speed especially on downhill stretches. One more caution: do everything possible to avoid black fly bites on hikes by wearing long socks, lightweight long pants and long sleeves. As usual, VBT provided the most excellent guides in Wayne, Lauren and George that worked extremely hard to accomplish their regular duties despite an earlier cyclonic storm that downed trees and closed roads. They also worked very hard to organize optional tours for the participants.

Kyle and Kate, Denver, CO, USA

5 out of 5 stars

Great trip

We enjoyed (mostly) great weather, outstanding guides, and truly gorgeous scenery. The trails are mostly gravel, but the bikes are well-designed to handle these types of surfaces. The lodging is generally outstanding and never worse than very good – we particularly liked the Wilderness Lodge. The hiking and kayaking were every bit as enjoyable as the biking.

Chuck45, Oakton, VA, USA

4 out of 5 stars

Great South Island Trip

Got to see a lot of New Zealand from Christchurch to Queenstown!

5 out of 5 stars


We had an incredible time on our VBT multi-sport adventure to New Zealand. This was our third VBT trip. New Zealand is a special place and our guides, Jan, Josie and Broni brought magic to the tour. Their knowledge of the country, the people and the natural beauty of the South Island so enhanced our trip. If you like to hike, bike and kayak, enjoy good wine and great beer, fresh seafood, and love the natural beauty, amazing landscapes and warm friendly people, this is the trip to take.

TomWS, St Louis, MO, USA

5 out of 5 stars

Go to the West Coast of South Zealand

We had never been to New Zealand before and wanted to explore it on a bike. We not only biked, we also did some “wanders” and a little kayaking. The West Coast of the South Island is just the best. It’s not crowded, the accommodations are very nice and the food is great. The locals are always nice. Add it to your bucket list of things to do.

5 out of 5 stars

The Best VBT trip Yet

We have been on several VBT trips over the years and everyone seems to to be better than the previous. This is true of the New Zealand trip. Our guides, Jan, Josey and Broni where not only helpful with all the loading, unloading and travel; but where extremely knowledgable of the plants, animals and geologic history. We would recommend the New Zealand bike and hike trip for anyone.
Marilyn and Marc

Marilyn and Marc, Saint Louis, Missouri

5 out of 5 stars

Amazing scenery, awesome guides and lots of fun!

VBT’s New Zealand hike & bike tour is fabulous! I really enjoyed the amazing scenery on both our trail rides and our hikes. The guides were super enthusiastic and knowledgeable, I learned so much about the culture and flora and fauna of New Zealand.

JenG, Portland, OR, USA

5 out of 5 stars

Gorgeous, Raw Beauty

Some of the best scenery i’ve ever seen! It’s like another world. Breathtaking.

CMindyLou, Portland, OR, USA

5 out of 5 stars

More than WOW

VBT’s planning made sure that you were exposed to all of the various countrysides of New Zealand. From the rainforest to the coastline to lakes and ranch land. Trip leaders were very accommodating taking into consideration each person’s activity level.

trip junkie, Colorado, USA

5 out of 5 stars

VBT and New Zealand ROCK!

Our New Zealand holiday had it all: Bike, hike, kayak, train, boats and planes. And of course, some rain. That’s why it’s so green! We did it all! The VBT did a great job with planning and timely and professional execution. Jan, Josey and Wayne were so thorough and caring. Our mini-bus was comfortable, our luggage was handled quickly and thoroughly and the accommodations/meals were first class. We had variety of activities, the bikes were perfect for the terrain and we enjoyed the company of our fellow travelers.

Tom Traveler, San Rafael, CA, USA

5 out of 5 stars


Four months after our trip, still thinking of NZ, our incredible and charismatic guides (Elysia, Lauren, and Wayne), and our wonderful co-travelers (miss you guys!). Kudos to VBT for re-designing and combining the previous biking and walking tours into the perfect multi-sport adventure. Something for everyone, and multiple opportunities to add on (are sit out) additional activities. Already planning a return visit!

RWJF, Boston, MA, USA

5 out of 5 stars

New Zealand is a must see place. Do it with VBT

3 wonderful local guides that enhance your educational & cultural experience

Rosamond, Manassas, Va

5 out of 5 stars

GreatSampling of new Zealand's Wonder

New Zealand is a land of great beauty. VBT’s trip showcased the South Island with a variety of locations and activities. The biking and hiking were fun and easy, even in the rain. The optional helicopter ride and hike on the Franz Josef glacier was a highlight for me. Tim, Lauren and Broni were excellent, knowledgeable guides.

CraigO, Minneapolis, MN, USA

5 out of 5 stars

Exceeded my expectations!

This is our third VBT trip so we had high expectations. This exceeded them. Jan, Wayne & George were fun and were so informative in their knowledge of the flora and fauna of the areas we traveled, knowledge of the landscape, as well as the Maori traditions that we, not only learned but, we felt the pride of country they exuded. These guides were funny and warm and took us to places we would not have seen otherwise. Loved it!!

JOANNA, Albuquerque, NM

5 out of 5 stars

Really fun trip

New Zealand is a beautiful country with really fun and interesting people. But the trip leaders made this an exceptional experience. The trip was well organized and the leaders were knowledgable about the country, its history, and people. They even provided some unexpected fun activity option. The leaders kept us laughing the whole trip.

jbird, Cincinnati

4 out of 5 stars

Amazingly beautiful!

Non stop, action packed adventure. Sensory overload for the eyes ears and taste buds! Amazingly beautiful country!

Neecyw, NJ

5 out of 5 stars

New Zealand

Guides were terrific and NZ is beautiful. The biking on the gravel is not so easy.Some hotels were great some not.

2 out of 5 stars

New Zealand South Island tour

This is the second trip to New Zealand I’ve booked with VBT and I must say the first was outstanding, while this trip was so so. Not much freedom was offered to get away from the group and ride on your own. Everyone was bunched up and 3 of 4 of the bike rides we did were awful. The first day in Hagley park was miserable and I felt like we were being herded like 6 year olds on a bad trail. The second day was a trail ride that had zero views on a gravel path completely surrounded by vegetation that made me feel claustophobic. The third day offered a superior ride and the seventh day had us again on bike trails that were questionable and many people felt uncomfortable on such narrow, crowded trails. The other days were quite leisurely with short hikes and one kayaking tour that was ok, but again, we were all bunched up and bumping off each other’s kayaks. I wish someone at VBT would have warned me, knowing I had taken the trip to New Zealand before, that they had taken the biking sections of the trip offroad, onto narrow and barely negotiable trails that weren’t really all that scenic. I know things change, and safety has become an issue, so road riding has become dangerous. However, I felt luck a duckling under the care of it’s mother the entire time. On a positive note, the guides do go above and beyond to ensure you are offered superior excursions to alleviate the boredom factor. Be prepared to spend ALOT of money on those, however. There is just no way to say how disappointed I was with this trip as opposed to the first trip I took to New Zealand with VBT.

Response from: Guest Services

Thank you for your input. Our Marketing team appreciates your feedback and will review the presentation of this this new trip for possible improvements.

Janet Cody, Cocoa, Florida

4 out of 5 stars

Our first trip with vbt was a success!

We are new to activity-based group touring and really enjoyed the experience. What a relief not to have to coordinate all the lodging, activities, equipment and food ourselves! And the guides were extremely knowledgeable, personable, and helpful. We will definitely be doing more of this type of touring in the future.

Leah, Los Angeles, CA

2 out of 5 stars

Beautiful scenery

VBT needs to do a little work on this tour. Cycling was a stunning disappointment.

Response from: Guest Services

Thank you for your review and for filling out our formal trip evaluation. We greatly appreciate your detailed feedback and suggestions! Our guest services manager has reached out to you with his contact information should you wish to discuss any further.

Arlen, Dallas. TX

5 out of 5 stars

Breathtaking landscapes and marvelous hikes

We booked this trip a year ago and were marveled by the scenery, the people, rainforest, lakes and biomes. We couldn’t have chosen a better way to see New Zealand!

flavia, Chicago, Il

5 out of 5 stars

Amazing scenery & great guides!

New Zealand was a “bucket list” vacation for us. VBT and it’s wonderful guides showed us the highlites of the western & central regions of the South Island up close and personal and did not disappoint. While we had expected a bit more biking, the itinerary was designed to ensure that we saw many aspects and areas of the region – mission accomplished! All in all, the trip was a wonderful experience and we learned much about New Zealand and Maori culture!

Happy Travelers, Massachusetts

5 out of 5 stars

Great Kiwi Experience!

We loved our hiking/biking/kayaking trip to New Zealand South Island. The guides were amazing, there are incredible vistas around every turn and the trip coordination was flawless. Also, because VBT hires all local guides, we received great recommendations for restaurants and optional tours on our extension. We also learned some new Kiwi phrases. A gob-smacking adventure!

JanJan, St Louis

5 out of 5 stars

Beautiful New Zealand

Highly recommend this trip! The geography of New Zealand is quite diverse, and you’ll see a lot of it on the South Island. I enjoyed the mix of activities – hiking, biking (3 rides/ plus the warm up in beautiful Hagley Park), and kayaking. VBT facilitates meeting local people to learn and appreciate the local culture. This aspect of the trip was wonderful.

Biking: As a novice biker, I would classify the biking as “moderate”. The roads/bridges are often narrow, with some sharp turns. Most biking is on gravel. You will bike thru beautiful landscapes…hard not to stop at ever turn for a photo op. Our group leaders accurately prepared us for every ride. One leader always rode with us.

Hiking: Wow! Just beautiful.

Kayaking: Super fun!

Flexibility: Our group leaders went above and beyond to ensure that we were all having a great time. For example, my party wanted to take a helicopter ride at Franz Joseph – but it didn’t seem as tho time would allow it. However, when we arrived at Franz Joseph at about 5:30, the weather was perfect. Our group leader called a local company and was able to get us the ride. There’s a nice
mix of group time and “alone” time for meals, shopping, etc.

High five to our guides, Elysia and Lauren!

Cathyb, Texas, USA

4 out of 5 stars

Get to know New Zealand south island

A unique way to discover the different geographical features of the South Island is the Vbt bike and walk tour . From city life to rainforests and glaciers,the expierence is incredible. The trip includes some easy hikes around a lake as well as short climbs to a vista and another to the glacier. While the bike rides were relatively short, they were challenging for those unaccustomed to wide single track gravel cycling. One ride was through a rain forest while another zig zagged from forest to Oceanside. One morning involved kayaking on a lake getting to see some of New Zealand’s waterfowl
The tour included information on the Mauori culture as well as the sheep and cattle industry. To provide this diverse view of the South Island, a lot of kilometers were covered translating to a lot of time in the van. It is a great way to see and learn about the South Island . It was the least active of our previous vbt trips. The guides were great very knowledgeable and accommodating. The lodging and meals were lovely

Mammam, Sun Valley, ID, USA

0 of 4
Tours Selected