Abroad or At Home: 3 Vacation Ideas for the Adventuring Traveler

Who said vacations were all Mai Tais and spa treatments? It’s a big wide world out there, with plenty of rugged fun to be had.

Forget about typing “camping sites near me” into Google and give our list a spin instead. One of these three adventure vacation ideas is sure to hit your sweet spot:

  1. New Zealand on two feet … and two wheels

Australia may soak up a lot of the spotlight, but New Zealand is worth a trip to Oceania all on its own.

The tiny country, composed of the North Island, South Island and hundreds of other smaller islands, is home to some of the most breathtaking views this side of Middle-Earth (as if we or the locals could let you forget the Lord of the Rings movies were filmed there).

What better way to take in the sweeping vistas upon landing than on your own two feet?

Auckland may be the nation’s most populous city, but there are still plenty of hiking spots amidst the urban hustle and bustle, which may help explain why it took home the #3 spot on our 2017 Travel Hacker list of trending destinations.

Mount Eden is a perennial favorite to get you started. Not only is it the namesake of one of the city’s coolest suburbs, it’s Auckland’s highest natural point. Climb atop this volcanic cone – one of 48 dotting the city – for a panoramic view.

In search of a flatter surface? The Karamatura Loop Walk in Huia Regional Park is worth a walk. This 2.4-kilometer trek will take you to the foot of the Karamatura Falls.

If exploring on two wheels is more your speed, it’s time to get out of Auckland and see what else the land of the long white cloud has to offer.

Located on the South Island, the Otago Central Rail Trail was recently voted Kiwis’ favorite place to cycle. As its name implies, this 150-kilometer trail will take you across disused railways, as well as historic gold-mining villages, plenty of pubs and, oh yeah, spectacular landscapes.

If you’re intent on sticking to the North Island, you could do much worse than a ride on the 48-kilometer Te Ara Ahi Trail. In addition to the astonishing scenery, keep your eyes peeled for Māori cultural sites and various geothermal fields. Help yourself to a dip in Kerosene Creek to experience New Zealand’s natural hot springs for yourself.

Just remember, travelers from the U.S. and Canada who book at least two months in advance often find the best fares to Auckland. Use your savings for some meat pies once you arrive. You’ll thank us later.

  1. A crater in the cradle of civilization

Tel Aviv may have the modern metropolis down pat, but visitors to Israel in search of a more adventurous vacation would be wise to check out the Negev desert.

Here thrill-seekers will find Makhtesh Ramon, the world’s largest makhtesh, a unique geological phenomenon that is often confused for a meteor or volcanic crater. They’ll also find the town of Mitzpe Ramon, or the “Moab of Israel,” as it’s known to some.

Like its sister city in Utah, Mitzpe Ramon offers opportunities for everything from mountain biking and off-roading to hiking and camping. Also like Moab, Mitzpe Ramon is associated with a national park, in this case the Ramon Nature Reserve, the largest national park in Israel.

If you find yourself growing tired of rappelling down mountainous terrain, you can always take a break to check out the burgeoning Negev Desert Wine Route. That’s right – vineyards in the desert. Never underestimate humankind’s ingenuity when it comes to catching a buzz.

  1. Wilderness in your own backyard

Globe-hopping is not a prerequisite for adventure vacations. In fact, you’re likely to find plenty of open air excitement in and around some of America’s most popular cities.

San Francisco took home the #8 spot on our 2017 Travel Hacker list for most popular destinations, and is also home to Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the perfect spot to camp, learn about the region’s rich history and indulge in some water sports.

Too close to skyscrapers for your taste? No worries. The rest of the U.S. has you covered.

Glacier National Park in Montana offers a much more immersive experience for nature lovers.

With more than a million acres to explore, featuring majestic mountains and alpine lakes, this is one national park you can get lost in (literally and figuratively). Luckily, the National Park Service is nice enough to publish a backcountry camping guide to help you stay on track.

The U.S. is practically bursting with national parks, from Yosemite to Yellowstone. Use this handy tool to find a park by state and plan your next adventure.

Relaxing getaways and pampered visits are all well and good, but sometimes the best vacations require getting a bit of dirt under your fingernails.

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