Sailing and Diving the Upper North Island
Cruise the island-studded Hauraki Gulf for eight days on a 58-foot luxury yacht, exploring the northern tip of the North Island and pausing between scuba dives to fish for snapper and hike through bird sanctuaries. Spend your nights in posh wilderness lodges; enjoy five-star meals featuring Akaroa salmon; and expect perks like helicopter transport to Tutukaka, one of seven overnight stops. And what could tempt you away from, say, a 19th-century colonial villa on a private beach? Only the promise of what lies offshore: Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve, where a maze of coral tunnels and caverns teems with a wild array of aquatic life. Explore wrecks like the Rainbow Warrior, where multicolored critters have turned the Greenpeace ship (sabotaged by the French secret service in 1985) into a psychedelic artificial reef.
High Point: Diving an ocean ravine as dozens of stingrays glide by overhead.
Low Point: Sailing a starboard tack while you're perched on the port head.
Travel Advisory: The South Pacific and the Tasman Sea meet at the tip of the North Island, so expect mild to wild water.
Outfitter: First Light Travel (011-64-9-360-8320, www.firstlighttravel.com)
When to Go: Year-round
South Island Alpine Course
In this weeklong tent-to-hut excursion in the Southern Alps, you'll helicopter to the edge of the Bonar Glacier for two days of mountaineering and snow-craft instruction. (You'll spend one night in a self-made snow cave, so pay attention!) After a two-day traverse of 7,730-foot Mount French, ditch your crampons and hike the valleys of Mount Aspiring National Park.
Outfitter: World Expeditions (888-464-8735, www.weadventures.com)
When to Go: December
Exploring the Wild Side
Witness fire walking in highland villages, raft the Class III Upper Navua through a rainforest dotted with waterfalls, and snorkel the coral gardens of the Mamanuca Islands on this 15-day romp through Fiji's remotest regions. You'll spend nights in beach lodges and tribal villages.
Outfitter: Asia Transpacific Journeys (800-642-2742, www.asiatranspacific.com)
When to Go: June and August
Exploring Aboriginal Lands
After flying from Darwin over coastal grasslands, bed down in bare-bones camps in Garig Ganuk Barlu National Park, a swath of Aboriginal land between the Cobourg Peninsula and the Kimberley Plateau. Native guides lead you on walks to ancient pictographs, swimming holes, and waterfalls.
Outfitter: Journeys International (800-255-8735, www.journeysinternational.com)
When to Go: August