Ride Rotorua, North Island
Flowy. That’s the word locals use to describe the mountain biking in Whakarewarewa Forest. One-way singletrack careens through trees, with banked turns and well-marked drops that let you float through the landscape, barely pushing your pedals. Rent a bike in town, then hop a shuttle or ride fire roads to more than 50 miles of trails. Inforiderotorua.com
Vineyard Side Trip, South Island Want proof that New Zealand produces world-class chardonnays? After your QCT trek, stop at one of Marlborough Sounds’ climate-blessed vineyards and sample the crisp, fruity evidence. Allan Scott Winery (allanscott.com) also serves meals and packages bottles for shipping to the U.S.
Paddle Abel Tasman, South Island Contrarian advice: Other mags lavish praise on the Abel Tasman Coast as a multiday trekking and kayaking destination, but we recommend a guided daylong paddle instead (Kaiteriteri Kayaks, $180NZ, seakayak.co.nz). You’ll cruise within feet of seals, see thousands of shorebirds, and get a splendid sampling of the area’s famous arches and aquamarine coves—without the crowds of campers and sand fleas.
Mt. Cook, South Island Schedule some downtime at the DOC Visitor Center in Mount Cook National Park: It houses a fascinating adventure archive and the Old Mountaineers Café, which serves tasty organic sandwiches, beer, and hot drinks.
Canyoning the Routeburn, South Island Think of it like a cross between bungee jumping and whitewater kayaking—without the rope or boat—as you swim/slide/jump/rappel down a slot canyon. This is Kiwi crazy at its finest—squeeze it in before or after the Rees-Dart Track. From $210NZ; canyoning.co.nz