"There's nothing in the world -- and no place in world -- like sailing in the South Pacific," said Warren Douglas, head of communications for Emirates Team New Zealand team.
San Francisco recently played host to the world's most prestigious sailing competition, the 34th America's Cup. Before the teams set sail on one of their most challenging rides of the year, I sat down with a few of the Emirates Team New Zealand members to get some travel tips for sailing down under.
First up, debunking the myths.
Most people know New Zealand as the tiny island off the coast of Australia.
"What people don't realize is how large New Zealand really is," said Doug Reid, a host of Emirates Team New Zealand and part of the shore support team. "They think it's tiny and you can see everything in three days. Spend one week in Australia and three weeks in New Zealand and you'll almost see it all."
New Zealand is made up of two main populated islands surrounded by hundreds of smaller, mostly uninhabited islands. It's hard not to take to the water while you're here. Stunning shorelines and pristine waters make yachting here a must-do, but you don't have to know how to navigate the ship in order to sail. All you need a skipper, and a sense of adventure.
"If you have a skipper, you don't need any experience," said Douglas. "But, you won't enjoy a sailing holiday unless you're reasonably active. If you can't scramble in and out of a dingy easily, it's going to be a bit more challenging."
Equally as challenging it seems is getting to New Zealand, but that's another myth Tourism New Zealand aims to challenge. In fact, New Zealand is just "one sleep away" from San Francisco, reminded Reid.
Air New Zealand, Qantas, Hawaiian Airlines, Fiji Airways, Air Tahiti Nui and Virgin Australia offer flights from the U.S. to New Zealand. Once you're in New Zealand, Air New Zealand and Jetstar will fly you to various islands. Quite frankly, getting here is the easy part. It's what to do once you're here that's the hard part.
Bungy, cave exploring, off-road driving, rafting and skydiving are just a few of things adventure travelers will enjoy. Wine tasting, art galleries and museums are perfect for the more laid back traveler.
With nearly 10,000 miles of coastline to explore, it's almost impossible not to experience a day at sea while you're New Zealand. So, where is the best place to sail when you're in New Zealand? Who better to ask than the members of this award-winning sailing team.
Here's what crew members had to say when asked, What's your favorite place to go sailing in New Zealand?
Adam Beashel, Strategist: "My favorite place is the Whangaruru Harbour, on Northland's east coast. I love the isolation of it, the greenery and the white sand beaches. It's a great place to go kite surfing, starting off the back of a boat. It's hard to believe that you can anchor there and be all on your own.
Ray Davies, Tactician: "It has to be the Hauraki Gulf - including Kawau Island, Great Barrier Island and even around Waiheke Island. It's so accessible to Auckland city, that you can really make the most of a weekend break. We've got a launch and we get out a couple of times a month in summer.
Dean Barker, Skipper/helm: "It would have to be the Bay of Islands; it's just stunning. I've sailed in a couple of Bay of Islands Regattas, where you race through all of the islands, and it is amazing - beautiful water, nice breezes, gorgeous white sand beaches. I've tried fishing there, but without much success. I'd like to blame the equipment, but it's more about the fisherman I think... It's definitely a place I would love to spend more time with my family. "
Richard Meacham, Utility: "There are two places in New Zealand that are on a par for me. The first is the Akaroa Harbour, on the coast out of Christchurch. It's a stunning place; when you drive there by land and drop down into the harbour, its beauty is so unexpected, it takes your breath away. My other favourite is the Karikari Peninsula in the Far North, especially Matai Bay. You can just slip into the water and pick out a crayfish, or pull paua from the rocks. It's magical."
Ready to set sail? Tourism New Zealand has the answers to all your questions.
A version of this story originally appeared in The HuffingtonPost, including information and programs that were part of America's Cup. For the entire article, click here.
The author is solely responsible for the content.