From seaplanes and Segways to alpacas and packrafting, Ewan McDonald finds some of the more unusual modes of transport for Kiwis to see the motu this summer.
The Far North is a land of sand and sea, and plenty of ways to encounter them. Dune Rider Unique Tours takes visitors along the Ninety Mile Beach "highway" on their northern bus tour and adds another mode with a sandboarding stop at Te Paki dunes.
Adrenalin seekers and motorbike enthusiasts looking for thrills and photo opportunities will kickstart their Bay of Islands trip on a V8 Chevy trike with Thunder Trike Tours. Perfect for adrenalin lovers and motorbike enthusiasts looking for gorgeous views and great photo opportunities as well as thrills.
For a down-to-earth - or down-to-water – holiday, The Rock Adventure Cruise offers day and overnight voyages on New Zealand's largest houseboat, an epic way to explore the Bay.
Make a grand entrance, or ultimate romantic gesture, over the Super City with Auckland Seaplanes' Fly & Dine packages in town and the Gulf Islands. Scenic flights, wine-tasting trips, overnight stays and fishing trips are options.
Or… from Heletranz heliport in Albany, take a spectacular scenic flight over Rangitoto Island's crater and Motutapu Island to Waiheke Horse Tours near Te Matuku Bay. Then saddle up to ride along secluded trails and stunning beaches.
For something less strenuous, follow the early settlers' watery route with The Red Boats or Riverhead Ferry to our oldest riverside tavern, Riverhead Tavern. Cruise under the Harbour Bridge before heading up sheltered waterways to enjoy the hospitality.
Whisk your way around Devonport village on a Magic Broomstick Segway tour. You'll take in the waterfront, beaches, and back streets as well as the major volcanic cones.
New to Whangamatā – and New Zealand, Coast Trikes' e-trikes are an easy-to-operate, eco-friendly option for cruising to the beach, harbour, forest, or market. Ditch the car and enjoy the summer breeze.
How is the air up there? Hamilton has made a festival of hot-air ballooning and Kiwi Balloon Company will lift your spirits with one-hour flights when the weather's good. Take off at sunrise when the air is still and quiet and enjoy a panoramic view over Waikato, with a glass of champagne back on solid ground.
It's all aboard for Awakeri Rail Adventures near Whakatāne. The self-driven golf carts are fitted with rail wheels and cover the 20km return journey at a leisurely 20 km/h along the former Taneatua branch line with scenic stops along the way.
A Riverbug is a happy marriage between an inflatable raft and a kayak, operating on the Rangitāiki River. Safe and easy to learn, they run on fun, low-risk whitewater, so families with children as young as 5 can enjoy the experience together.
Begin your Rotorua adventure with the magical world of glowworm caves on a stand-up paddleboard with Paddle Board Rotorua, or kayak the steaming cliffs of Lake Rotomahana beneath the Tarawera volcano. For a bird's eye view, head to the summit aboard a Volcanic Air helicopter or 4WD with Kaitiaki Adventures.
In Hawke's Bay, travel the rugged coastline from Clifton to Cape Kidnappers on a vintage American tractor during a four-hour Gannet Beach Adventure. As well as seeing the famed gannet colonies, this eco-experience takes in one of the country's most geologically fascinating sites.
Anglers will love journeying through crystal-clear waters with Tongariro River Rafting. This wilderness section of the river gets minimal angling pressure, which means exceptional trout fishing with an expert guide.
Ever walked an alpaca? You get your chance at Nevalea Alpacas, New Zealand's largest alpaca farm, near Ongarue (you may need to Google that). Summer visitors can walk the South American animals around the hills, greeted by 950 others.
On the edge of Whanganui National Park, an ATV Bush Safari will take you around an outdoor enthusiast's paradise, conservation-oriented Blue Duck station. Then head to the Chef's Table restaurant for a 3-4 hour tasting menu with produce mainly grown and foraged from your surroundings.
Fun fact: the Whanganui River Journey is classified as one of New Zealand's Great Walks. Check out its history and beauty on a culturally inspired guided canoe experience with Owhango Adventures.
Explore all or part of the 142km Forgotten World Highway in a self-drive rail cart with Forgotten World Adventures. Journey along the disused railway line between Taumarunui and Stratford and immerse yourself in some of Aotearoa's most remote, stunning scenery.
Wellington is home to Crocodile Bikes, six-seaters for the whanau or three-seaters for smaller groups. It's a unique way to explore the waterfront from Oriental Bay to the CBD waterfront. Come mid-December you can cross the harbour from downtown Queens Wharf to Days Bay in the world's first electric ferry with East by West.
Across Te Waipounamu, take the wheel of a classic or sports car and explore stunning scenery on a self-drive holiday with RentAClassic. If you're worried about your insurance, let a private driver take over while you enjoy the scenery.
The whānau will love to paddle the Abel Tasman National Park coast in a double or single-hulled outrigger waka. Waka Abel Tasman begins and end the experience with a karakia for protection, before sharing the heritage of their tupuna on the waterways.
Seal Kayak Kaikōura is special: you'll not only be paddling, but also pedalling. Their pedal kayaks are a fun way to check out fur seals, blue penguins, albatross and other marine life.
Move over alpacas and make way for the llamas at Kaikōura Llama Trekking. The hardest part will be deciding on the amount of time you want to spend with your furry pal, and if you want to walk them along the coast, riverbed or woodland. Further inland, Hanmer Llamas let you take your new travel companion through the village, surroundings or backcountry on a one or multi-day tour. There's also a fishing tour with your carry-all llama.
For a wind-in-the-hair experience, V8Trikes and Christchurch V8 Trikes offer tours on five-seater and three-seater trikes, so you can take the whole family or just a significant other.
Get High, Get Wet & Get Dirty in Methven is described as the ultimate adventure park. Start the day in an Adventure Balloon high above the Canterbury Plains, board Discovery Jet for a wild ride in the Rakaia Gorge and finish with a heart-pumping Can Am Maverick X3 off-road adventure with Dirt Bandits.
There's plenty to see above and below ground on the West Coast. Ride the Nile River Rainforest Train to venture into Charleston's subterranean world. The vast cave system is full of stalactites and stalagmites, and you'll float through glowworm grottoes and down the Waitakere River's kid-friendly rapids.
Then sit back and enjoy a ride in an Outwest Tours Unimog 4WD. These ex-army vehicles are among the tours exploring coal mining towns on the Denniston Plateau, including the impressive 1670m Denniston Incline.
Experienced mountain bikers can take the high road with a heli-bike lift to the Paparoa Track with Coastwide Helicopters. That cuts out most of the uphill before biking downhill back to Punakaiki.
There are so many ways to have fun on the water in Queenstown this summer, they're gonna need another lake. Hop aboard a Funyaks inflatable kayak and paddle down the Dart River to Paradise (no, the settlement). Fly above Lake Whakatipu on a Fliteboard with Flite School Queenstown or race over and under the surface in the 'shark' boat.
For the uninitiated, a packraft is an inflatable raft that can fit into a backpack. Packrafting NZ promises 150km of pure wilderness on Fiordland's Hollyford Pyke loop, "the Holy Grail of New Zealand packrafting".
A little less rugged and considerably more elegant, the Hollyford Wilderness Experience is all about quality fare and refreshments after a day's hiking. Antipasto platters, venison and blue cod can be washed down with a beverage from one of the fully licensed lodges along the trail.
There's no better way to take in the sights, sounds and smells of the Otago Peninsula and Dunedin than on the back of a V8 Chevrolet trike. Experience Dunedin offers tour options on the four-passenger behemoths. Get a higher view of the city on Headfirst's double-decker bus tours of the landmarks of the Edinburgh of the South.
We're not suggesting Southland is behind the times but how's this for a retro holiday with a groovy vibe? NZ Kombi Hire will rent you a gorgeously fitted-out VW van. And just like those 60s and 70s trips around Europe or India, it's all about the journey.
Which is pretty true of all these adventures in Aotearoa.
Check alert level restrictions, vaccine requirements and Ministry of Health advice before travel. covid19.govt.nz