by Donna M. Airoldi | March 21, 2017


NEW ZEALAND
New Zealand wrote the book on adrenaline-rush activities. It's probably most well-known for opening the first commercial bungee-jumping site in Queenstown in 1988, off the Kawarau Bridge. But it's also home to jet boating, invented in the 1950s. This is where crafts navigate rivers and gorges at speeds of more than 50 miles per hour.

"You sit in a boat, theater style, and it has the capability to go fast, then stop on a dime," says Pisani. "It maneuvers around cliffs and it looks like something you're sure to hit, but then it turns, and you almost feel like you'll be thrown out."

Claudia Nixon, division vice president, event solutions for BI WORLDWIDE, agrees that "There's so much to experience in New Zealand, it's extremely popular."


SOUTH AFRICA
From wildlife to wineries and indigenous culture to natural wonders, South Africa has much to offer incentive clients. It also provides good value, "with the rand in our favor," says Marc Graber, vice president, strategic accounts and business development at Madison Performance Group, who has brought seven groups there in the past five years.

Split programs are popular, starting on safari in Kruger National Park, where attendees can try to spot the "big five" -- buffalo, elephants, lions, leopards, and rhinos -- then heading to Cape Town and its nearby wineries. While on game drives, you can pair up your VIP performers with senior management to create more of a connection, Graber says.

If seeing big animals in their natural habitat isn't enough excitement, there's abseiling, or rappelling, off Table Mountain; shark-cage diving near the area famous for its great white sharks; tandem skydiving; zip-lining; surf lessons; and helicopter tours, says Jim McIntosh of Ovation, a destination management company.


CROATIA
Groups interested in Central Europe are venturing into Croatia, across the Adriatic Sea from Italy, which offers culture and adventure activities. Helotes had a financial client with 150 attendees explore Split, the Hvar islands and the historic walled city of Dubrovnik. In Split, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, they toured the Diocletian Palace, a monument to Roman architecture from the turn of the fourth century; hiked up Marjan Hill; and picnicked in the area's dense forest.

Hvar, 90 minutes away by boat from Split, offered more cultural sites, including Venetian-style streets and architecture, St. Stephen's square and cathedral, a Franciscan monastery, and a Spanish fortress. Though Dubrovnik provides several cultural attractions and culinary delights, the more adventurous could opt to windsurf. The waters off this coastal city are some of the best for the sport. Groups can also take a ferry to Mali Ston to explore its medieval wall -- which is second only to the Great Wall of China in length -- or kayak around Dubrovnik's walls and head to Lokrum island, about 2,000 feet from the coast.