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Newsweek

Newsweek article - September 2000

Aoraki Mt Cook National ParkAnn Worthington, a work-at-home lawyer and mother in Capistrano Beach, Calif., rarely breaks away from her telecommute and Teletubby routine. So what was she doing last spring, sans husband and child, bungee-jumping off New Zealand's Kawarau Bridge? No, she wasn't caving in to domestic pressures. She was just embarking on a multi sport vacation, the latest adventure-travel trend. Leaving her husband at home with their toddler, Worthington spent the rest of her week hiking, biking and sea-kayaking across New Zealand's South Island.

Why such a frenetic vacation?

"I want to be moving at all times," she says.

Join the club. Worthington is just one of a growing number of people using vacations to test their limits and new muscle groups while traversing rain forests and mountains, rivers and the open sea. According to Adventure Travel Society statistics, active vacations have been increasing for decades, and now multi sports account for up to 14 percent of specialized adventure trips. Why would anybody want to cram so many sports into a single vacation? Many travelers are simply put off by the thought of spending a full week riding a bike, hiking a mountain or God forbid lying on a beach. "They want a little bit of everything, rather than just one week of one sport," says Debbie Shroeder, a travel agent specializing in adventure trips. "People don't want to feel they'll get bored."

Adventure outfitters are making sure there's no time for boredom. Active Adventures New Zealand, which arranged Worthington's trip, runs a two-week marathon that starts with three days of kayaking Queen Charlotte Sound or hiking mountainous terrain in Nelson Lakes National Park. The rest of the trip almost seems like Olympic training: canoeing, long-distance bike-riding and glacial hiking (they provide the crampons). But it's all optional, insists company founder Andrew Fairfax. "This is a vacation," he says. "We're not pushing people [into] anything."

In fact, multi-sporters tend to push themselves. Kellie Markovcy, an electrical engineer from the Washington, D.C., suburbs, considered taking a week-long kayaking trip. But she opted instead for an adrenaline-pumping itinerary offered by Outer Edge Expeditions' Borneo Sports Spectacular. "I like to be challenged," she says. Markovcy's two-week trip included spelunking, white-water rafting, sea-kayaking and a two-day ascent of Southeast Asia's highest peak, 13,454-foot Mount Kinabalu. Bill Barrios, a Pittsburgh graphic designer who also survived the Borneo adventure, hinted at the toll of the trip's pace. "It was horrible at the time," says Barrios, laughing, "but afterwards you wanted to do it again."

Not every trip is designed to be daunting. Dan Austin founded Adventures Plus three years ago to offer multi-sport trips for vacationers "who may not have been on a bike in 20 years." His tours to Alaska, Montana, the Grand Tetons and the Canadian Rockies combine instruction, short distances and plenty of pampering, including snack breaks of sliced melon served on silver trays. "We can introduce people to activities and they don't have to commit a full week," Austin says. They also don't have to participate in every activity. These trips aren't cheap. But for Lynn Wall, a Minnesota letter carrier who went on an eight-day Adventure Plus trip to Montana, it was well worth the $1,700 fee (for meals, lodging and equipment, but not airfare).

"I never could have planned it myself," she says. "I wouldn't know where to go or how to get around." That's the selling point of increasingly complex itineraries such as Untamed Path's two-week backpack, mountain-bike arid white-water-rafting trip that begins in the Andes and ends in the Amazon, with stops in remote villages and lectures on local customs scheduled to break up the breakneck pace. "People in the working world may be fairly active but they don't have the time to put together a two-week trip," notes owner Jen Hamar. "We know what to do if the van breaks down."

But the vacationers often don't know what to do when it's time to pack up and go home. Ron Locklear, a regular runner, hiker and biker, left Tampa, Fla., in July for a KB Mountain Adventures trip in Colorado to "prove something" to himself on his 40th birthday. After a week of Outward Bound-style action, the Harley-riding construction manager proved he was a softie, bonding with his "bunk" of fellow vacationers. "We met in a lobby Monday morning as strangers and by the end of the week we're in tears because we have to leave one another," he recalls. Somehow, the adventure guides never talk about this final hurdle: the emotional hangover.

Copyright (c) 2000 Newsweek, Inc.

Trip Reviews

 4.50 out of 5 (from 14423 reviews)

Perfect Trip for anyone who loves Nature!

“If you enjoy being outdoors and like to challenge yourself this trip is for you. I wasn't an avid hiker before signing up for the Rimu trip but after reading the itinerary I knew I couldn't pass up this amazing opportunity. You never know what you are capable of until you try and that is how I feel after climbing up to the Angelus Hut and hiking to Mueller ridge. I had never climbed a mountain before (since there are no mountains where I live) but the views are more than worth the climb.
This trip is the best way to see all that the South Island has to offer, it is the perfect balance between adventure, relaxation, self-exploration, and cultural immersion. Anyone can go to New Zealand and rent a car and go hiking, biking, and Kayaking; however, they will miss out on the best parts of traveling to a new place and that is the knowledge and culture that only someone who lives there would know. The guides (Tory and Vanessa) were awesome! Tory is an amazing cook, and Ness was great at making jokes and keeping the atmosphere cheery during the longer drives. I loved listening to the guides tell us about the Maori people and the local legends or folklore. I actually thought Ness was lying to me when she would tell me that the views get better after being left speechless by the scenery, but every day was better than the previous!
I have to mention the FOOD!!! The food alone is enough for me to sign up for this trip again. When I travel I don’t always know what the local food is or would be but with this trip the guides cook you all sorts of local food and all the food is fresh and delicious. If you don’t like something they will make sure to accommodate you.
Ness and Tory made you feel like this was a trip among friends and family, not strangers. I will come back to New Zealand again!”
Brian Heinz's Review Image
– Wisconsin, United States
Rimu, May 2017
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Why travel with Active Adventures?

Legendary Kiwi Hospitality

Above all, we aim to be amazing hosts. We're proud of our kiwi roots, and our professional, warm and relaxed style of running trips around the world is unforgettable.

Expert LOCAL Guides & Trip Leaders

We're VERY picky about who we select to work in our team, and we have people from all over the world lining up to guide our trips. So we get to hire the absolute BEST in the business.

Everything is Included

As soon as you get off the plane, we've got all the details of your vacation covered – top notch meals, comfortable transport & accommodation, amazing guides and INCREDIBLE service.

A Sense of Achievement

Whether you’re new to adventure travel, or you’ve never travelled in a group before, you’ll find yourself arriving home positively different from when you left.

Small Groups

With our small groups (no more than 14), you'll get to know our team, your fellow travellers, and have the flexibility and freedom to do as much (or as little!) as you like.

Diverse Experiences

It's all about getting there under your own steam – on foot, in a sea kayak, or by bike. What better way is there to experience mind blowing scenery? If it's your first time, no worries – our expert guides have got you covered.

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