Out and about in NZ

By Michelle Coursey

Kayaking the Abel Tasman. Photo / Latitude Nelson
Kayaking the Abel Tasman. Photo / Latitude Nelson

Who says all your holidays have to be about slowing down and vegging out? Here are 10 ideas for breaks around New Zealand that are perfect for those times you don't want to stop moving, but still want to get away from everyday life.

Paddle it

Tackle the great outdoors in a sea-kayaking adventure in the Abel Tasman park? Coastal birdlife and fur seals may join you as you paddle through jaw-dropping, isolated scenery.

With a variety of options, including camping overnight, or staying at beachfront lodges for those who want a more comfortable sleep. See nzholidays.co.nz to plan your trip. From $920 a person with everything included, trips start in October.

On yer bike

Get pedalling on a weekend escape in Northland. The Cycle Touring Company has a selection of lodges north of Auckland where you can stay, and each boasts at least two great bike rides nearby.

The routes can be modified depending on ability and how much you feel like doing, and the cost (starting at $245 a person) includes meals, accommodation, bike rental and guides. See cycletours.co.nz for more info.

Saddle up

Feel like life is galloping by too quickly? Grab the reins on a horse trek to get some control. If you're a beginner, try a company like Timeless Horse Treks which runs adventures in the Manawatu Gorge for riders of all abilities - complete with a campfire dinner and starting from just $175 a person for one night.

If you've already passed pony club with flying colours, go seriously off the beaten track for a night or a week with Hurunui Trails and Adventures, an hour north of Christchurch.

Starting at $1295 a person for a weekend trip, these treks have been reviewed as some of the best horsey experiences in the world.

Healthy pampering

If you want less action but don't want to overindulge on your break, try a luxury health retreat.

There aren't many in New Zealand, but somewhere like Ora Ora Resort, an eco spa resort in Kerikeri, will soothe the body and mind. Health spa treatments, bush walks, health seminars and organic food are on offer, but with all the trappings of standard four-star accommodation. Prices start from $280 a night for a guilt-free weekend away. See oraoraresort.co.nz.

Walking weekend

Need a change of scenery from your office window? Go bush.

There are hundreds of tracks around the country, but for a huge variety of guided options in the outstanding Kahurangi National Park, in the north-east of the South Island, Bush & Beyond Guided Walks are the people to see. Try a two-day package, which includes comfy accommodation and delicious food, from $575 a person.

Walk alone

If you'd rather not have a guide leading the way, visit Bream Head Coast Walks. You get to walk carefully marked tracks through beach, bush and farmland with your family or friends at your own pace, before being picked up and dropped back at the 12-person lodge, where your gourmet dinner will be ready and waiting for you to prepare.

A great option for a large group, packages cost from $435 a person for a three-night stay. For more details, see coastwalks.co.nz.

Snowshoe adventure

If you're tired of skiing but still want the snow, head south to experience the world of snowshoeing.

Alpine Recreation offers a weekend away in the foothills of the Southern Alps where you can explore icy streams and snowy valleys on snowshoe treks.

Food, gear and guide inclusive, the trips start from $480 a person at a special weekend rate for 6-10 people. So get some friends together for a snow day of a different kind.

Ski sideways

If you're up for a new challenge, put your legs through their paces by trying out cross-country skiing, an endurance sport that uses all your muscles to propel you across the flat snow with skis and poles. Get basic instruction and head out to test your mettle at the Waiorau Snow Farm. Three-night packages - which include a stay in the ski-in, ski-out huts and hireage of gear - are from $530 for two people. Check out snowfarmnz.com.

Stretch sessions

If your weekly yoga class isn't cutting it lately, take time out for a yoga retreat. Ashram Yoga offers a monthly weekend packed full of yoga and meditation. Healthy vegetarian food is provided and treatments are available for those who want them. But the standard weekend costs just $150 a person, and takes place in beautiful Opoutere Beach on the Coromandel Peninsula.

Sail away

If a sunny weekend peeks its head above the parapet in winter, or you're planning for summer, there's not much that could beat a long weekend's sailing. Most beach areas in New Zealand have charter boats for hire, which you can take out on your own or with an experienced skipper.

In Auckland, try CharterLink Bareboat Yacht Charter, where you can hire a boat for a three-day adventure or a week-long relax in the Hauraki Gulf, with some great itinerary ideas supplied.

- Herald on Sunday

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