Want to beat the winter blues by getting active, or getting back to nature? Try one of these getaways with a difference.
1 Round Britain sailing voyage
You may have seen at least part of the UK by land but for a trip with a difference how about circumnavigating the British Isles by sailboat? Yacht Discovery is sailing its 70ft ketch around Britain in August and you can join the crew . . . even if you've never sailed before. There will be an experienced captain, skippers and first mates on board, so no experience is necessary — although you will be expected to get hands on in both the sailing and the cleaning/food preparation. There are a maximum of eight guests and you can either be on board for one of three 11- or 12-day legs of the journey, or join for the whole month, sailing from Cowes, on the Isle of Wight, calling at many ports along the way. Stops include Ramsgate, Scarborough, Belfast, Dublin, Edinburgh, and Scotland's beautiful Western Isles. The next Round Britain voyage departs on August 18 and there are mini-adventures available in other locations.
2 Goat Yoga, Oregon
It's a craze that seems to have taken over the States (and social media feeds) over the past couple of years, but the original goat yoga — where goats wander freely while yogis practise — started in Oregon at a farm owned by Lainey Morse. Now, thanks to its popularity, Morse is teaming up with a nearby historic bed and breakfast to launch the Goatel. No, not a hotel for goats, more a hotel for humans that offers goat yoga classes, goat happy hours (where guests can interact with the friendly goats while enjoying a drink and canapes), as well as hikes, brewery and winery tours. Morse told ModernFarmer.com "The goats on the property are always there for people to bond with, for them to help bottlefeed babies, or to just sit next to and cuddle." Each room will be themed around individual goats in the herd, and meals will be vegetarian and vegan friendly. Why, you might ask? Well, interaction with animals has myriad health and wellbeing benefits, including lowering blood pressure, stress levels and anxiety. Morse believes spending time with goats every day helped with an auto-immune disorder she was suffering from, and wants to share those benefits with others. "The Goatel Retreat Center will be a place for people to disconnect from stress, depression or illness and find their inner calm and recharge," she told Modern Farmer. The Goatel is due to open in the next couple of months.
3 Ocean Swim Fiji
Want to combine your tropical cocktails with a fitness challenge? Then Ocean Swim Fiji is for you. The inaugural event is in September and there are still places available for both swimmers and supporters. The five-day challenge will see entrants take on three 1km or 3km ocean swims at beautiful locations around Nadi, including Tivua Island, Natadola Beach and Malamala Beach Club. After the swims, there will be buffet lunches and time to relax, as well as the chance to observe beach education sessions with young Fijian competitive swimmers and an awards night featuring cultural performances and live music. The event's home base is Denerau's Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa, so competitors will get to enjoy some luxury in between activity. And don't worry if you've never competed in an ocean swim before — the event is suitable for social/recreational swimmers, too. And with an average water temperature of 24C, there's no need to worry about wearing a wetsuit. There are only 200 places for swimmers, and 100 places for supporters, so get in quick. September 13-17.
4 Hike, Bike & Kayak: Sri Lanka
This trip from Intrepid Travel combines two popular trends — active travel and Sri Lanka, a destination with rising popularity. Intrepid Travel says 2018 has so far seen a 216 per cent increase in bookings to Sri Lanka from Kiwis, compared to the same period in 2017.
The 13-day trip is one of Intrepid's new Active itineraries, with a focus on fitness. Visiting tea plantations, ancient fortresses, national parks and rugged peaks, the itinerary features a mix of full- and part-day hikes (including a climb up Sigiriya, otherwise known as Lion Rock), river canoeing and mountain biking, as well as time to relax on golden beaches in between. A good level of fitness is required and you'll need to be a competent swimmer to take part in the canoeing activities. Departures are available until mid-November, starting again in early January, and average group size is 12 people. If Sri Lanka's not for you, there are Active Adventures available in Peru, Nepal, Ecuador, India, Japan, Myanmar and Thailand.
5 Forest bathing
A less active holiday, but one that will help with your winter wellbeing. Forest Bathing began in the 80s in Japan, where it is known as shinrin-yoku, and was introduced to help the country's many urban dwellers relieve stress. It involves immersing yourself in nature, taking in the forest's energy with a series of guided activities to help with the connection.
Its benefits are said to include increased energy, better sleep, and elevated mood. There are certified forest therapy guides in New Zealand and around the world (find one at natureandforesttherapy.org), or you can try it on tailor-made itineraries in the UK and in France. If you're in New York City and the concrete jungle gets too much for you, Tree Bath offers private forest bathing sessions in three locations around Manhattan — Central Park, Battery Park and Hudson River Park.