You could spend your vacation days sipping fruity drinks out of coconut shells, lounging by the pool of some hotel in a second-rate beach-resort town—or you could turn your vacation into a challenge, where you'll work for your tan, drink to celebrate, and come back feeling more alive than ever. Trust us, the umbrella in your cocktail isn't going to impress anyone—so grow some balls, get dirty, and put another notch in your adventure belt.
If you want to experience an out-of-this-world vacation, start by escaping ordinary destinations. Seek one of the rare places on earth where a man is measured by his adrenaline threshold. Find a place where the outdoors is a playground and the possibilities for adventure are just as endless as they seem.
MF's latest adventure destination? New Zealand, a small country made up of two large islands located in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. It's a long way from home no matter where you live, but making the journey to this thrill-seeker's mecca is more than worth your while. The whole country is rife with opportunities for insane fun, and we've selected three favorite spots—MF-approved locales that epitomize everything we love about the outdoors and that are also sure to raise your blood pressure. (Check out newzealand.com for more information and to get started booking your trip.)
Surf and Paddle
The Coromandel Peninsula is about an hour-and-a-half drive from Auckland, New Zealand's capital and largest city. It's incredibly scenic and a bit of a hidden gem—this is where Kiwis (native New Zealanders) vacation on weekends—so it's a well-kept secret. The east coast of the peninsula has epic waves that are ideal for surfing or bodyboarding. A little farther north are Hahei Beach and Cathedral Cove, which offer calmer waters that are perfect for ocean kayaking.
Head to Queenstown, where you'll be surrounded by the Remarkables—NZ's aptly named, southernmost mountain range—and check out AJ Hackett's world-renowned bungee operation. These are the people who created the famous stunt, and Kawarau Bridge is the first commercial bungee-jumping operation in the world. Start small (if you can call it that) and work your way up to Nevis Highwire, which soars a remarkable 440 feet above the ground.
A few hours on the Rangitata River will leave you a changed man. Rangitata Rafts guides trips down one of New Zealand's most spectacular stretches of water, through a variety of rapids—some rated as high as Grade 5, the highest rating for commercial rafting, and one that few operations offer. That means more whitewater, bigger rapids, and a more intense ride. If hitting Grade 4 and 5 rapids on a raft with a paddle isn't ballsy enough for you, take a whitewater swim or leap from one of the many cliff-jumping perches.
Check out these destinations, where you can experience similar big-time thrills without having to fly across the ocean
» Multisport Adventure: Take a week off and head to Baja California, in Mexico, for a seven-day multisport excursion. Each day, you'll try a new adventure led by Baja Wild's professional instructors. Activities include mountain biking through the coastal desert, surfing Baja's gorgeous Pacific beaches, and kayaking in the open ocean.
» Rafting: Jump on a rafting trip with Wilderness River Adventures, and paddle some of America's biggest and baddest whitewater rapids through the Grand Canyon, hike around awesome rock formations, and swim in the Colorado River's pristine waters.
» Hang Gliding: Lookout Mountain Flight Park in Georgia has been training people to fly for more than 25 years, and this year it's your turn. After a few lessons and tandem flights, you'll learn the skills needed to take some supervised solo flights more than 1,000 feet above the ground.