New Zealand is home to tranquil lakes and picturesque snow-capped mountains but, as anyone who’s visited the country would know, these pictures of peace are merely a front for the blood-pumping excitement that awaits visitors. The country has a knack for attracting thrill-seekers from all over the globe and has developed its array of adventure activities into some of the world’s most sought-after experiences.
There seems to be a tradition emerging among travellers visiting New Zealand where you must partake in at least one extreme sport or pursuit before you can say you've truly 'experienced' the country. With so many New Zealand adventure activities to choose from, the question isn't what thrilling escapades you’ll find; it’s how many can you handle.
Breathtaking free falls
Those of you who enjoy beautiful views while quickly plummeting through the air will fall in love with New Zealand’s bungy jumping and skydiving. When it comes to bungy jumping, New Zealand maintains the idea that if it’s high people can jump from it.
Organised jumps can be found all around the country: off bridges, stadium roofs and platforms attached to the edges of cliffs. Most of these come with a stunning scenic backdrop and among the best are the Kawarau Bridge jump against the mountain vistas, the 135-metre high Nevis jump in Queenstown and the Auckland Bridge jump over Waitemata Harbour.
If bungy jumping isn’t high enough for your steely nerves, you can strap on a parachute and free fall through the sky from 3,600 metres up in the air. Best of all, there will be plenty of time to take in your bird’s-eye view of New Zealand’s volcanic landscapes, mountains and shimmering lakes on your way down.
Braving the river rapids
Make sure your paddling muscles are strong and you know what the flip line technique is, because you’re going to need those skills when careening down New Zealand’s wild rivers, fighting to keep your raft upright.
Rafting trips can vary in duration from a few hours to five days. There are too many rivers to name them all, but two of the best are the Rangitata, flowing through the Southern Alps, and the Rangitikei on the North Island, which is 11-kilometres long and throws all kinds of rafting hazards your way.
You can add a little more thrill to your rafting adventure with some Black Water Rafting, best done in Waitomo, where you will navigate an underground river through a series of dark glowworm-filled caves.
Glide through the sky
Zip lining keeps you at a far more comfortable height than bungy jumping and sky diving, but still provides those same exhilarating thrills as you cruise at speed through lush forests, barely avoiding trees, over flowing rivers and along the New Zealand skyline. If you get bored, try increasing the adrenaline (and blood) rush by hanging upside down during your ride.
The zip line in Waiheke Island is one of the best with fantastic Auckland Harbour views. There’s also one in Queenstown at the top of Bob’s Peak that takes you through the trees before breaking you out into the open where snowy mountains and the glorious Lake Wakatipu greet your eyes.
Hitting top speed
It’s said that boats move fastest when they’re attached to the back of cars. Shooting across the water at speeds of up to 85-kilometres per hour, the jet boats in New Zealand will make you seriously doubt that notion. They don’t just deliver speed – jet boat rides make roller coasters look like merry-go-rounds, taking you down narrow river gorges, close to waterfalls, around 360-degree turns and across water that’s sometimes only 10-centimetres deep.
One of the best and most famous jet boat rides is the Shotover Jet in Queenstown. During the ride, you’ll zip between the sheer rock sides of Shotover Canyon, bouncing off submerged rocks and navigating some dangerously narrow sections.