New Zealand, comprised of the North and South islands, is a majestic country filled with soaring mountains, towering cliffs, magical fjords and glistening waters. The pace here may be slow, but when it comes to active adventures, the area promises visitors a heart-pumping experience. A 14-day sailing on Holland America’s luxury ship Volendam leaves from Auckland, on the North Island, and stops at various spots along both coasts before crossing the Tasman Sea to end in Australia (hollandamerica.com).
Our first port of call was Tauranga on the North Island. My husband and I decided to rent a car and explore the inland town of Rotorua, which is built near an area of active volcanoes. We wound past vast pasturelands, and after navigating the curving route for about 45 minutes (while driving on the left), we arrived at the village and its natural hot springs. Since New Zealanders are world famous for their adrenaline-seeking ways—they’re the folks who originated bungee jumping—we couldn’t resist trying a little “zorbing.” Invented here, the Zorb is a clear inflated sphere, 11 feet high and wide, which contains a shallow bath of warm water. My husband and I were loosely harnessed into the sphere and instructed to walk forward. We took a step, immediately fell to our bottoms and slipped, slid and sloshed our way down the hill (zorb.co.nz).
Cycling past the vineyards of
On the following day, while the ship was docked in the town of Napier, we decided to moped our way through Hawke’s Bay wine country. With a map and lunch, all provided by Bike D’Vine, we tooted through deep-green landscape dotted with sheep, past rows of verdant vines and a myriad of vineyards and tasting rooms (bikedevine.com). We toured Moana Park vineyard and chatted with winemaker Dan Barker, who taught us the difference between vegetarian and nonvegetarian wines. (Some wines contain ingredients derived from animal products like egg whites and gelatin.) And at Brookfields vineyards, I couldn’t resist a pinot gris, or pinot grigio as it’s known in some regions, described as “full of the Paris Hilton factor—but without the need to be locked away.” The medium-bodied white had a sweet floral flavor that was certainly refreshing.