Every woman loves to be pampered but when it comes to getting away with the girls many of us prefer something more exciting than a good lie down. Here are the best weekend escapes in New Zealand for women who want to go away in search of adventure and celebrate the joy of female friendship with a dash of adrenalin.
Hit new heights at Adrenalin Forest in Wellington
Wellington has an energetic local vibe that embraces art, culture, and cuisine which makes it the perfect spot for a getaway with the girls. With most of the major sights either within walking distance of the CBD or a short taxi ride away, it is easy to get around. Get your hearts racing at Adrenalin Forest, a high ropes course packed with bridges, wires, swings and flying foxes with a course to suit every ability (and bravery level). If some of the girls aren’t fond of heights, there are pathways which start just a metre off the ground. Adrenalin junkies can challenge themselves to climb more than 30 metres into the forest canopy. After you’ve swung through the trees, give your credit card a workout at Wellington’s many cute boutiques or meet the fur seals which live in a colony just outside the city. Seal Coast Safari Tours offer a unique chance to get up close and personal with these beautiful animals who seem to love nothing better than having their photo taken (provided you don’t get too close). This tour’s handy half day format is easy to fit into a weekend getaway, even if you’re short on time. Take a stroll around the Hannah’s Laneway precinct which offers an intriguing collection of eateries and destination-focussed provedores to explore. Enjoy a guided tasting and tour at the Wellington Chocolate Factory or peanut butter tasting at cute hole-in-the-wall shop Fix and Fogg. Don’t miss the savoury Smoke and Fire which comes with a chilli hit. If you’re still hungry, slip around the corner to Mr Go’s for delicious dumplings or ‘hot rocket’ prawns with a friendly local vibe. For a great place to lay your heads, check out QT Wellington or the Grand Mercure Wellington.
Visit Velocity Valley Adventure Park in Rotorua
Shweeb means ‘suspend’ in German but there’s no hanging around on this ride at Velocity Valley Adventure Park, a thrill seekers’ paradise which offers multiple adrenalin activities. You’ll need to crank up those leg muscles to power your bullet shaped Shweeb pod which hangs from an overhead rail. Take the corners fast enough and you’ll swing out over a seven-metre drop. Up to four people can challenge each other or individuals can race against the clock. The Shweeb isn’t as scary as some other adrenalin experiences but it does force competitive types to face their ultimate fear: the fear of losing! If you would prefer something less strenuous, the Swoop is a 40 metre high swing that sends up to three people hurtling through the air at 130kph. Each rider is suspended in a full body sling which makes this ride less scary than other adrenalin experiences. Kind of. Anticipation builds during the slow winch to the top of the ride, especially if a friend is holding the release cord. Spend a relaxing evening soaking in the Polynesian Spa’s hot mineral pools which are filled with soothing geothermal waters. Book a private pool to enjoy as a group or immerse yourself in nature in one of the pools overlooking Lake Rotorua. The alkaline waters of the Rachel Spring are excellent for conditioning and nourishing the skin. Whether you’re after breakfast, lunch, or dinner, you’re sure to find something to suit at Eat Streat. This lively all-weather dining precinct at the lake end of Tutanekai Street is packed with restaurants, cafés and bars and has a great atmosphere on weekends.
Peddle to Produce in Hawkes Bay
Peddle to Produce – or Wobble to Wineries if you haven’t ridden a bike for a while – on a tasty On Yer Bike self-guided tour around the Hawkes Bay food and wine regions. The Bridge Pa Triangle and Gimblett Gravels wine growing areas are almost completely flat and there is a bike to suit everyone in your group with a choice of cool cruisers, electric bikes, or tandems if you want to ride with a friend. It’s an easy day out as the wineries are close together so you’ll find yourself at the next stop before you’ve even had time to work up a sweat. Load up your basket with regional produce, drop into a couple of cellar doors then enjoy a leisurely lunch at Oak Estate. The following day take a step back in time in nearby Napier which has one of the world’s largest and best preserved collections of Art Deco architecture. A walking tour is an affordable and enjoyable way to learn more about the town’s fascinating history and see the sights.
Go ziplining or paragliding in Queenstown
Queenstown is a terrific spot for paragliding with a relaxed take-off (wander across the grass and the wind does the rest – literally a breeze compared to some European destinations) and the views are superb. Each trip is customized so you can opt for a smooth, sightseeing experience or ask for a daredevil ride with plenty of twisting turns. Try to jump as a group as each pilot will be taking photos of you and your friends during the flight if one or more of you book a photo package. If some of your mates aren’t keen on jumping off a mountain, they can fly through the air with the greatest of ease, surrounded by birdlife and beautiful trees on an eco-friendly zip-lining tour which starts on top of Bob’s Peak. Guides ensure each rider is buckled into their purpose-built harness then it’s as simple as walking down a couple of wooden steps and letting gravity do the rest. Ziplining is exhilarating and relaxing, a quirky combination which makes this adrenalin activity unique. Even better, the views from the ziplining towers are superb. After all that excitement, you could spend the next day exploring the quaint mining towns of Arrowtown and Clyde or opt for a scenic BBQ cruise tour on TSS Earnslaw, a 100 year old coal-fired vintage steamship, that takes in the beauty of Lake Wakatipu. There are plenty of other great things to do in Queenstown as well. Top accommodation options for a group getaway include The Rees and Peppers Beacon.
Go skydiving in Nelson
Nelson is home to New Zealand’s highest tandem skydive at a lofty 20,000 feet and the only place where you can see the North and South Islands simultaneously. If you or your friends aren’t up for the super-high skydive, there are smaller 9,000, 13,000 and 16,500 feet jumps available as well. The 40 minute scenic flight takes you over three national parks – Kahurangi, Nelson Lakes and Abel Tasman – and offers stunning views of both islands, pristine beaches, the sparkling ocean, and Mt Taranaki. After the thrilling freefall, you can enjoy this spectacular scenery to the full as you float gently back to earth. Celebrate your jump with lunch on the deck at Jellyfish Restaurant and Bar in a heritage-listed wharf building with superb views of the pretty Waimea Estuary. On Sunday morning, enjoy a hearty café breakfast then browse for hand-made gifts and second-hand finds at the Motueka Sunday Market.
Bungy jump off the Auckland Bridge
Thrill seekers get a triple rush with this heart-pumping experience which starts with a walk along a metal gantry under the Auckland Bridge and a climb to the top followed by a bungy jump over the ocean. This is one of the few sites in the world offering every possible jumping option – ankle tie, harness jump or tandem – which makes it tempting to do this bungy more than once. Provided the tides are right, you’ll get to touch the sky and the ocean. If someone in your group isn’t keen on jumping, it’s possible to do the bridge climb as a standalone so they can enjoy the spectacular view without the scary stuff. In the afternoon, frock up and enjoy an elegant High Tea served under the huge chandelier which takes pride of place in this sunken lobby lounge at the Cordis Auckland. Share sweet and savoury treats piled high on a three-tier stand and select from a choice of teas as recommended by the Cordis tea sommelier. Add a chilled glass of award-winning Louis Roederer Brut Champagne and celebrate the end of your weekend away in style.
Spend a day with the Queen in Marlborough
Whether you consider yourself to be ‘athletic’ or ‘pathetic’ when it comes to hiking, exploring the great outdoors with friends is an experience that shouldn’t be missed. If you enjoy wine as much as you enjoy walking, then it’s hard to go past the Queen Charlotte Track which is located in the same area as the famous Marlborough wine region. Tackle the whole route or combine a leisurely one day walk with a cruise on the pristine waters of the Sounds and you’ll be back in plenty of time to share a bottle of local vino or two with dinner. The easiest way to explore the surrounding wineries is on a wine tour where you do the drinking and someone else does the driving. If you’re travelling as a group, you could book a private tour or join a regular Marlborough Wine Tours trip for a full or half day spent tasting the region’s famous Sauvignon Blanc and lesser known varieties such as Syrah, Albariño, and Arneis which are making their mark in Marlborough. For a special night out, head to the much-awarded Arbour Restaurant for an upmarket yet relaxed dining experience which celebrates Marlborough’s superb wine and local produce.
Disclosure: The writer loves visiting New Zealand but still hasn’t been brave enough to try bungy jumping.
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