Destination: New Zealand
By Ransom Riggs
Last year, in preparation for a wanderlust-sating trip to Eastern Europe, I asked the wanderlusts among our readers about the wildest places they had been. We got some great replies -- McMurdo Station in Antarctica, Namibia's Skeleton Coast and the unforgiving wilds of Burma, to name just a few -- but because my trip to Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary never materialized, they did nothing but aggravate my desire to travel to far-flung places.
In a few weeks, we'll finally be remedying that. It's not as unusual a destination as it once was, perhaps, but according to friends who've been there recently, that makes it no less spectacular: New Zealand. Over the past few days I've read the Lonely Planet guidebook cover to cover (I love those things -- sometimes I even buy them for places I'm not going, just to fantasize), and I've been trying to sort through the five billion things there are to do, see, hike on, jump off (or out) of, rappel into, and swim in to try and fit everything into what now seem like two woefully inadequate weeks in country. And I need your help!
What's unmissable? What's unusual? What's the coolest thing you've seen or done in NZ?
In the meantime, all I've got to go on is my dry old guidebook. So far, it's got me thinking you'd all be wise to take out an insurance policy on my life right about now -- apparently Kiwis have a zeal for more than just land -- they also love to throw themselves off of bridges and out of planes, fly down slot canyons in jetboats at breakneck speed, and roll down grassy knolls inside plastic balls. It's called zorbing (and it's actually quite safe):
Also, I'm starting to think my wife is going to ask me to jump out of a plane -- does anyone care to share their skydiving or bungee jumping stories with the rest of us?
(Above photo of NZ's Great Barrier Island by Doug Dillaman, a friend of mine in Auckland.)