New Zealand is an outdoors wonderland, and the people who live there embrace an active and healthy lifestyle.
With miles and miles of beautiful coastline along the oceans and into stunning fjords as well as hiking trails that snake across the entire country, there is so much to explore. The kiwis have known this long before the rest of the world became infatuated with New Zealand after seeing it in large scale through the lens of director Peter Jackson and his "Lord of the Rings" and "Hobbit" movie epics.
So, as I made plans to go to New Zealand for my very first visit, I wanted to make sure to do it right. For me, that meant it would be as part of a Backroads active cruise. Backroads has been a leader in active travel for more than 40 years, and I was happy to find out that the company's recent expansion into cruise travel added trips around New Zealand using Ponant's luxury expedition yacht Le Laperouse as a home base.
I have previously traveled with Backroads on the company's active Danube River cruises in partnership with AmaWaterways. These were thrilling hiking- and biking-focused trips that I thoroughly enjoyed. I knew that the concept of bringing adventure travel to the small-ship cruise experience was a winner.
7 Things About a Backroads Biking Trip with AmaWaterways
This time, I was going to get the Backroads take on a New Zealand adventure on the 184-passenger Le Laperouse. Our group of 24 Backroads travelers and three guides, Max, Katie and Brandon, had nine days to explore the diverse natural beauty of New Zealand. It was not nearly enough time, but we made the most of it.
Here is a photo report highlighting all that we did:
Luxury and Adventure
15 Things to Know Before You Travel to New Zealand
Le Laperouse is a luxury ship, so of course it has a fine spa where you can get massage treatments and a relaxing sauna. Ponant is a French cruise line, and its sailings are inclusive, with all drinks and dining as part of your cruise fare. The ship also has an innovative Blue Eye underwater lounge, a cool place to relax and look out of the large portholes to see the world below the surface. Whale sounds also are piped in through special speakers. You can enjoy a drink down there or just close your eyes for a multi-sensory experience.
Our time in New Zealand left me energized and excited to return. Most of the people in my group had traveled with Backroads before, some on numerous trips, from 10 to 20 times. If you are interested in traveling with Backroads, you can find all kinds of active travel options on the company's website.
In recognition of May as National Bike Month, Backroads, celebrates its deep roots in biking with a collection of new biking trips. These include trips in Japan, Poland, Norway and Sweden, along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and several Active Ocean & River Cruises.
Backroads trips include the use of custom-designed titanium performance road bikes that offer a high-tech yet comfortable journey through the countryside. Backroads also offers touring Bikes and electric-assist bikes. With tours for avid cyclists, newcomers, leisure riders and everyone in between, Backroads combines meticulously researched routes with expert and friendly trip leaders to make your travel experience memorable.
"I founded Backroads on the belief that the best way to see the world is by adventuring actively," Backroads founder and president Tom Hale said. "We're proud to offer best-in-class bikes and options for every type of rider."
Founded in 1979 as a bike-tour travel company, the first Backroads trips included tours to California Wine Country, the California Coast, Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks, the Canadian Rockies and San Juan Islands. Backroads now offers more than 130 biking itineraries throughout the United States and across almost 60 countries and five continents. Backroads has scheduled more than 1,600 dedicated bike tour departures in 2019. Biking is also a featured activity on more than 1,000 Backroads multi-adventure trips.
New Backroads Bike Trips in 2019
Columbia River Gorge & Willamette Valley -- Oregon's Waterfalls & Wine Country
Japan -- The Noto Peninsula to Kyoto
Kentucky -- The Legendary Bourbon Trail, Louisville to Lexington
Norway & Sweden -- Seaside Scandinavia, Waterways & Spas South of Oslo
Poland -- Rich Heritage & Inspiring Nature from Krakow to Warsaw
Backroads Most Popular Bike Tours for 2019
Croatia -- Dalmatian Coast Adventures on the Adriatic
Danube River Cruise -- The Blue Danube, Prague to Budapest
Netherlands & Belgium -- Windmills & Canals from Amsterdam to Bruges
Portugal -- From Lisbon to Vineyards, Castles & Beaches
Thanks for reading,