8 places to free your adventure

Whether it’s exploring city streets, cruising coastal highways or simply trying something new, travel is all about adventure. But no two adventures are ever the same.

To some, adventure lies in the heart of a temple. To others, adventure is found on the edge of a distant shore. This article explores eight different adventures in eight different countries. Which would you pick?

1. Exploring the city... of Vancouver

Bordered by bays and fringed by snow-capped mountains, Vancouver lies in the heart of Canada’s scenic British Columbia region. The area boasts some of the best natural experiences Canada has to offer, including world-class skiing at nearby Whistler, untouched coast towards surfers’ favourite Tofino, and serene national parks surrounding the city.

But Vancouver isn’t just for the outdoor enthusiasts among us. It's also a cosmopolitan city renowned for the thriving cafes of Gastown, the sprawling markets of Granville Island and the unique boutiques of South Main, to name just a few.

Vancouver is a sure bet if your sense of adventure is:

  • City experiences with a country feel
  • Visitor-friendly streets
  • Food, drink, arts and culture

Top tip: You'll need to get an electronic travel authorisation (eTA) before visiting Canada. Click here for more information on how to apply.

2. A view of the pool... in Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea is a true Pacific Island paradise, a stone’s throw away from Australia. Unlike other nearby islands like Bali, Papua New Guinea still retains its raw, authentic character with an ‘off the beaten track’ appeal.

The country is made up of around 600 islands, ranging from small outer atolls to large volcanic bodies with bustling urban centres like Port Moresby. But if serenity, snorkelling and resort-style accommodation is more your flavour, a trip to one of the smaller islands, like New Britain and New Ireland, might be a better option.

You’ll love Papua New Guinea if your sense of adventure is:

  • Remote resorts and sprawling tropical reefs
  • Getting off the beaten path
  • Island culture

Top tip: Not all areas of Papua New Guinea are safe for travellers, so plan your visit wisely. Before booking your trip, check SafeTravel for the latest information on what areas should be avoided.

3. The heart of a temple... in Yogyakarta

The Javanese city of Yogyakarta is a hub of both modern and ancient Indonesian culture. On one hand, ‘Yogya’ has shopping malls, a contemporary art scene and trendy restaurants. On the other, the city retains many aspects of traditional life, clearly reflected by its sultan’s palace and cultural dance performances.

No visit to the city is complete without touring Borobudur, the world’s largest Buddhist temple. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is a breathtaking expanse of ‘stupas’ that each contain a Buddha figurine, believed to have been erected in the 9th-century. If the structures fail to impress, the surrounding volcanoes won’t.

You’ll love Yogya if your sense of adventure is:

  • A taste of old meets new
  • Exploring ancient temples
  • Serene rainforests

Top Tip: Borobudur is world famous and can become busy with tourists in holiday periods. If you’re visiting Yogyakarta in peak season, consider exploring some of the lesser-known temples like Pawon, Kalasan and Mendut.

4. The road to a new city… in Peru

Think road trip destinations and you may think of USA’s Route 66 or even Australia’s east coast, but some of the world’s best four-wheeled adventures can be found a little further afield.

Peru’s winding mountain roads will take you through some of South America’s most vibrant cities, like Lima, Ayacucho and Cusco. You’ll pass small fishing villages, find hidden coastal caves and steer inland through villages dripping with authentic Latin culture.

That said, a Peruvian road trip isn’t for the casual Sunday driver. Distances between stops can be vast and road conditions can be treacherous, which is why careful research and preparation is essential.

You’ll find a perfect match in Peru if your sense of adventure is:

  • Getting out of your comfort zone
  • Tackling the open road
  • Unexpected experiences and an open itinerary

Top tip: If you’re planning a road trip adventure, check out our article on what you need to know about renting a car overseas and tips on staying safe.

5. The edge of a shore... in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka isn’t your typical beach holiday destination, but the island nation has no shortage of incredible coastline. The so-called ‘Teardrop of India’ offers a unique tropical escape, with equal parts natural splendour and spicy street food.

Sri Lanka boasts eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the sacred mountain city of Kandy and the Sinharaja Forest Reserve, which is home to many endemic species and trees. If you’re wild at heart, get closer to nature on a safari tour where you’ll encounter elephants, water buffaloes, leopards and more.

For foodies who love a bit of spice, expect fiery curries, sweet caramelised onion relish (‘seeni sambal’) and sour lime pickle that packs a punch.

You’ll savour the Sri Lankan coast if your sense of adventure is:

  • A beach holiday with a twist
  • Sacred shrines and spicy fare
  • Wildlife and wild coast

Top tip: Its tropical climate means Sri Lanka has a distinct rainy season and dry season that affects different parts of the country at different times. Between May and September, the south-western monsoon bathes the south-west coast in rain. Between December and March, the south-east coast gets a drenching.

So if you’re planning a beach holiday, consider:

  • December to March: Hikkaduwa, Narigama, Weligama
  • May to September: Arugam Bay, Pottuvil

6. A taste of tradition... in Tokyo

There are few culinary destinations in the world as exciting as Tokyo. With a population of over 10 million, the city offers endless possibilities for adventure and new foodie experiences at every turn. Ramen houses, sushi stops and countless Izakayas (a Japanese pub) seem to line every block and extend vertically into the sky, and finding your own hidden gem is only a matter of hitting the streets.

For all of its modernisms, Tokyo is a hotbed of traditional Japanese cuisine. Finding an authentic meal of grilled and raw fish, rice, pickled vegetables and miso is easy, but don’t expect to be able to read the menu!

In terms of sushi experiences, it doesn’t come more unforgettable than a visit to Sukiyabashi Jiro, a Michelin three-star restaurant in the heart of a Tokyo subway station. The unassuming eatery was featured in the Netflix documentary ‘Jiro Dreams of Sushi’, which spends a day in the life of 85-year-old sushi master Jiro Ono as he crafts his ultra-expensive sushi plates.

Tokyo will be a treat if your sense of adventure is:

  • A walk through another world
  • Skyscrapers meeting serene shrines
  • A foodie discovery on any budget

Top tip: If you’re visiting Japan for less than 90 days, you’re required to carry your passport at all times. Before you leave, double check the expiry date on your passport and make sure it’s valid for at least six months after the date you return to New Zealand.

7. The bottom of a barrel... in Bordeaux

Regarded as the wine capital of the world, Bordeaux is a mecca for grape enthusiasts and lovers of the finer things. Bordeaux has several wine regions, each with their own unique specialities, vineyards and luxurious chateaux. There are countless tour operators in the Bordeaux region, so make sure you read online reviews to find the best one.

Of course, there’s more to the French city than wine by the barrel. From the grand architecture of the Place de la Bourse to the manicured lawns of the Jardin Public Garden, Bordeaux boasts enough to keep all travellers amused. And of course, if shopping is your style, the Rue Sainte-Catherine won’t disappoint.

You’ll love Bordeaux if your sense of adventure is:

  • French cuisine and fine wine
  • Distinctly European architecture
  • Arts and culture

Top tip: Petty crime can happen anywhere in the world, so it’s important to keep a close eye on your belongings at all times to protect yourself from pickpockets. Read our article for tips on staying safe in busy cities.

8. The top of a tower... in Qatar

As far as towers go, they don’t come much bigger than in Qatar. In fact, Doha’s Aspire Tower stands a staggering 300 metres in the air. But there’s more to the Arab nation than vertical prowess.

Qatar boasts the highest per capita income in the world, and unsurprisingly, some of the most luxurious shopping experiences in the Middle East. The Villagio, Lagoona and City Center are packed full of designer brands and excessive experiences. The Villagio even features an indoor canal system that shoppers can navigate on Venetian-style gondolas.

You’ll love Qatar if your sense of adventure is:

  • Luxury shopping and lavish malls
  • Desert landscapes and international cities
  • Historic sites and fascinating museums

Top Tip: Qatar has some strict rules that you might not be used to back home, such as public displays of affection, so do some research on what’s acceptable and what’s not. A list of illegal activities can be found on the SafeTravel website.


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