So why choose women only holidays and adventures?
Women often tell me how much they value the company of other women when we are away together exploring new places and different adventures.
We have different conversations in female only company. The topics are wide ranging and diverse. As our friendship bonds strengthen we get to know one another better and confide in each other (and ‘no’ I’m not sharing secrets).
Some women are looking for new friends after moving to a new place, or after a relationship breakup, or they have more free time after completing studies. Others are empty nesters with time to spare looking to do something a bit different.
Women lead busy lives with multiple roles as managers, mothers, partners etc. Women only adventures allow us to reconnect with our inner selves and to have a bit of ‘me’ time.
Professional women (some self employed) know the importance of taking breaks for our health and wellbeing. Single women deserve a bit of pampering and we treat ourselves more when we're together.
Just as men love getting away from it all with their mates on fishing expeditions, women love recharging our batteries and just having time to chill out.
One of our regular walkers tells of other groups she belongs to where males always take the lead wanting to organise things. She knows when she comes along with us she can just as easily lead the way.
Another bonus is getting in touch with nature, rediscovering our joy for the outdoors and taking on fresh challenges together.
Successful women only adventures have some real advantages.
We prefer to go at our own pace (especially for more challenging pursuits) rather than trying to keep up with more competitive males.
When we were trying out trout fishing on the Tongariro River, we came across an experienced fisherman who positioned himself down river from us - the right thing to do as we had arrived first. When he discovered we were novices he quickly moved back upstream. Then he caught three trout in quick succession while we were still figuring out our fishing techniques. See what I mean?
Women are very supportive of one another in unfamiliar situations. Some are better climbers, others have great hand and eye coordination, or are more confident in sea conditions. We all need a bit of encouragement to try out new things ... and we have a lot of fun giving things a go that we might not try on our own.
When we are in difficult terrain or trying out completely new activities involving an element of risk, like alpine treks or sea kayaking, taking along experienced guides familiar with the local conditions is always important.
On our Tongariro Alpine Crossing expert guides familiar with the terrain assessed our skill and confidence levels, setting a manageable pace and ensuring our safety. They also shared interesting information about the heritage site’s history and importance to Maori.
On our Abel Tasman kayaking and walk adventure we could each choose how much walking and kayaking to do each day. Confident sea kayakers could do more of that while our walkers followed the coastline with spectacular views of bays and estuaries. In the evenings we relaxed over a glass of wine and swapped stories about our experiences.
During a very challenging climb up a tree root staircase at Maungatautari couple of women in our group said ‘never again’ but by the time they had finished the walk they were really proud they had done it. And their reward was a relaxing spa followed by a delicious meal (and a night tour of the sanctuary for those who still had the energy).
Reconnecting with nature and the increased confidence that comes from succeeding at fresh challenges can have some surprising and rewarding outcomes.
One of our regulars is spending three months as a Department of Conservation volunteer on Stewart Island. After that she is heading to Costa Rica for a turtle conservation project ... and who knows where that will lead!
AWOL has been around for five years and over that time our community has grown considerably. We have a core group of regulars and others join us less often due to other commitments.
We focus on outdoor adventures that sometimes challenge and extend us ... like trekking over the Tongariro Alpine Crossing ... or kayaking over to Rangitoto Island ... or discovering scuba diving.
More adventurous types get a real buzz out of exhilarating adventures ... like having a go at rally driving in the Maramarua Forest ... or taking a turn at the helm of an America's Cup yacht.
It is not all fast paced action. We have plenty of time for relaxation and some friendly banter. On a day trip to Rotoroa Island, we ambled along at a relaxing pace taking in spectacular Hauraki Gulf views and picnicking on golden sandy beaches.
As you can see, women only adventures have a lot going for them.
Vive la différence - long live the difference!