While all eyes have been on Rio for the 2016 Olympics, preparations are underway in another great southern city for World Masters Games 2017 – Auckland, New Zealand. A regular on “most liveable cities” lists, as well as a must-see on any New Zealand vacation, Auckland is known for its great indoor/outdoor lifestyle balance, with either sparkling bays, or pristine natural parkland on every side. In April of 2017, it will host athletes of all skill levels and most ages for ten days, as they compete in the largest international multi-sport event of its kind.
Ironically enough, age restrictions are part of what makes the World Masters Games so accessible. The minimum competing age ranges from 25 to 35 depending on the sport, attracting retired athletes and talented amateurs, as well as those who took up a sport later in life and want to test their skills. The unique concept has blossomed since the first games were held in Toronto in 1985, with over 28,000 athletes competing at the 2009 games in Sydney, Australia. In fact, every second Games has been held “Downunder” since Brisbane hosted in 1994. The three Australian-hosted Games have also lured the largest number of competitors. A winter edition made its debut in 2010, in the picture-perfect lake town of Bled, Slovenia.
Suffice to say, it’s easy to turn competing at WMG2017 into a terrific New Zealand vacation. Set on a magnificent harbour filled with thousands of sail boats, the city of Auckland enjoys mild weather year round. It also offers fantastic green spaces such as Mount Eden, where the 360 degree views are matched only by those from the Sky Tower in the inner city. No visit is complete without getting out on the water, ideally on the way to Waiheke Island, home to olive groves and vineyards that compete with any in New Zealand.
Still, it’s a small country, and world class natural attractions like Coromandel Peninsula, Waitomo Caves, and Rotorua are barely a javelin throw from New Zealand’s biggest city (okay, we exaggerate, but they’re not far). The nearby Bay of Islands is home to Waitangi, where the first treaty was signed outlining the rights of the indigenous Maori as British subjects. Rotorua is a popular second stop on many New Zealand vacations, and is known primarily for its bubbling mud pools and geothermal geysers. Still, there are other experiences to be had, including a taste of sheep farming at New Zealand’s Agrodome, and an authentic Maori welcome and hangi feast, cooked to perfection in a natural earth oven.
As Goway has been appointed the official preferred travel company for North America, we will be helping bring North American travellers to the upcoming Auckland games with a range of pre and post-games packages, full of New Zealand vacation ideas. Either taken on their own as a chance to meet and compete with like-minded people from around the world, or as a springboard to a longer New Zealand vacation, the World Masters Games is shaping up to be an unforgettable travel opportunity in 2017.
Kansai, Japan 2021, anyone?