It was no accident when the Kiwis sailed off with the America’s Cup in 1996, then successfully defended it four years later in Auckland. “The City of Sails” has more boats per capita than any other metropolis in the world, and bareboat and skippered charters are available throughout New Zealand. The only real problem is deciding whether to ply the marine reserves of the Bay of Islands, skim across Auckland’s wind-whipped Hauraki Gulf, or head to the South Island to glide along the coastline edging the Marlborough Sounds.
The Bay of Islands, at the top of the North Island, has been a hot spot for big-game fishing since the 1920s, when western author (and fishing pioneer) Zane Grey first landed some monster marlin. Today, however, more anglers come to test their fly-fish- ing skills on huge brown and rainbow trout in such river meccas as the Motu and Tongariro, and in enormous Lake Taupo.
New Zealand’s major wine-growing regions are ideal cycling country: The terrain’s not too steep, the weather’s often good, and vineyard tastings and gourmet meals await around every curve. A good place to stage your own Tour de Grape is in the sun-drenched Marlborough region, at the top of the South Island. Base yourself at a country B and B or at a hotel in the bustling little seaside town of Blenheim, and sip the excellent whites, the small-batch reds, and the ever-growing selection of late-harvest dessert wines.