Been there, done that, seen it all? Possibly not, writes Karl Puschmann
You don't have to stray deep off the beaten path to experience something unique or unusual. As we've discovered, the beaten path still has many surprises and out of the ordinary activities to enjoy.
Here's a small showcase of some weird and wonderful guided tours and experiences waiting for you to enjoy in urban centres around the country.
Usually, a tour will bundle you into a mini-van or a shuttle bus or some other deeply uncool people-moving form of transport. Not so on Whāngārei's Tame the Beast tour. Instead, you'll be driven around the town in fine style in one of their classic V8 cars. If you prefer two wheels over four, hop on one of their Harley Davidson motorbikes and hit the streets. They'll take you to Pataua South, Ocean Beach and Whāngārei Heads, stopping for refreshments along the way, at scenic walks and to share stories of the area. So get your motor running and head out on the highway with the beasts.
Unusual doesn't need to mean uncomfortable. For a more luxe day out, consider indulging in the Platinum Experience during the upcoming Auckland Cup Week at Ellerslie Racecourse. You'll be given a behind-the-scenes tour, get to snap a selfie with the jockeys and watch the track's world-famous commentator, George Simon, call a race live from his perch up on the fifth floor of the Ascot Stand. That's thirsty work, so go mix and mingle with society types in the Love Racing Owners Enclosure where a racing insider will meet up to discuss the horses he thinks are feeling fast . . . nudge, nudge, wink, wink.
You don't need a DeLorean equipped with a nuclear-powered flux capacitor barrelling at 88mph to go back in time. Instead, simply make a leisurely drive to Napier and be transported back 90 years to the vibrant 1930s.
Famous as the Art Deco Capital of the World, Napier's vibrant architecture of the era has been embraced and lovingly preserved. It makes it a thoroughly unusual place to visit and one that proves that if today's architects had some imagination and pride in their work we could be living in inspiring cities instead of endless drab grey rectangles.
Tour the best of Napier's sights with the Art Deco trust. You can take a guided walking tour, or travel in style in a beautiful vintage car while getting expert commentary on the region's history and highlights.
We were sold on Wellington Museum's Ship 'n' Chip tour the moment we learned that at the half-way point you leave the museum, hop on a ferry, head into the harbour and get served a classic Kiwi lunch of scrumptious fish 'n' chips. All museum tours should stop for a fish 'n' chips lunch from now on.
Along with giving you a full belly, the tour will also fill your mind with quirky and unique stories about our fair nation's capital city before giving you a chance to walk off lunch when the ferry docks at the flora and fauna filled Matiu/Somes Island.
Touring is hungry work so if you're visiting Taranaki try the Taste and Tales tour. Each of the four tours takes you behind the scenes at New Plymouth's boutique food producers and promise a trip filled with interesting insights and mouth-watering food and drink.
Depending on which tour you choose, you'll visit microbreweries, handcrafted icecream shops, award-winning Texas barbecue, a boutique rum or gin distillery or a pizzeria on the beach, to name just a few of the delicious venues.
The hardest part will be deciding which of the four to choose, so why not block out four days and do them all. Gluttony is permissible when it all tastes this good.
Most people choose to tackle the Ngā Haerenga cycle trails with friends or family, so going with a guide can be considered an unusual choice. But for those setting off on Nelson's 34km Coppermine loop, getting a guide is a great idea. Although the trail is fairly easy and straightforward, the guides at Gravity Nelson pride themselves on turning this friendly trail into "the adventure of a lifetime". They provide stories along the way, keep you safe and on track and come armed and ready with enough bad jokes and silliness to keep even the most puffed peddler smiling throughout the journey's 3-5 hours.
As far as getting around goes, it's hard to find a more unusual way than on a Segway, the two-wheeled machine you operate through the power of balance. After a quick training session gets you up to speed on the fun motions needed to control the device, Segway on Q will lead you on a tour around Queenstown's notable and incredibly scenic locations. You'll coast through the tour before being given the option to engage the Segway's high-speed mode for a hair-raising sprint home.
If there's something strange in your neighbourhood you're probably in Dunedin, a city practically alive with the undead. Around each corner in this Gothic city is a spooky story or horrible haunt. So if you're feeling particularly brave when you visit, pull on your big boy/girl pants and head out on a Hair Raiser Ghost Walk, a guided walking tour through the scariest parts of town. It's guaranteed to send a chill down your spine. And not because of Dunedin's famous cold . . .