Like most outdoor-obsessed countries, New Zealand has its fair share of adventures. Actually, it has more than its fair share of adventures and, as far as these sort of experiences go, pretty much all of them score highly on our NASA-designed adventure-o-meter. Okay, so we don’t actually have one of these instruments (NASA keeps them locked away in high-security vaults guarded by a team of robots with x-ray vision) but it’s still pretty clear New Zealand is a little country that boasts some mighty fine adventures (do you think we’ve used the word adventure enough?).
There are high ones, long ones, ones where you have to hike a long way, some that get you wet, ones that celebrate gravity, sandy ones, traditional ones and ones that require you to buckle up, take a deep breath, and wish for the best.
Basically, adventurous thrills are a given in the land of the long white cloud where 97.6% of Kiwi-population are sports-mad. Thankfully, this is totally groovy news if you’re a travelling adrenaline-seeker as it means you can start picking off epic adventures - like they’re blackberries on a bush - the moment you touch down. Of course, you already knew this. It’s one of those things New Zealand has become famous for. It goes: rugby, green furry fruit, long-snouted birds and then nerve-jangling, happy-scream-inducing, unforgettable adventures - and we’ve got the experiences that prove it. Woohoo.
1. Leap Off The World’s First Bungee Jump
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Rugby might be the thing they always win at, but we’re pretty sure tying a big elastic band to your ankles and jumping off super-tall things is unofficially the official national sport of New Zealand. It’s why these crazy folk invented it and, if you jump in a car and head toward Queenstown, you’ll find the Kawarau Bridge, which is where the first person decided this activity should be a thing. Of course, being the pioneering spot, you’ve got offer something that little bit extra, which is probably why the peeps here let you opt for an extra long slack... so you can get dunked in the river below. Crazy.
2. Jump Out Of A Plane Over Wanaka
Rule No.1 Of Skydiving: Make sure you’re wearing a parachute.
Rule No.2 Of Skydiving: If you’re going to plummet towards the ground, make sure you do it over an epic landscape, and it doesn’t get much more epic than the Southern Alps surrounding Wanaka. It’s one of the few places you can fling yourself out of a plane and take in vistas full of snowcapped mountains, massive lakes and gorgeous greenery, while your face-skin flaps about all over the place.
3. Sky Walk On The Ledge Of New Zealand’s Tallest Building
Only New Zealanders would look at their tallest tower with admiration and then say, “you know what we should do?” “What Bob?” “We should let people walk on the ledge of it.” And that’s exactly what they’ve done, which is a pretty cool way to bring some eye-popping adventure to the heart of Auckland. But the coolest part isn’t the chance to step out onto the observation deck - which is actually a narrow ledge floating in mid-air, 192 meters over the ground - it’s the fact you can jump off it if you so please… after attaching a bunch of ropes, obvs.
4. White-Water Rafting Off A Waterfall Near Rotorua
We just read that subheading back and it became a little clear this was a little unclear. The truth of ye olde matter is: you’ll be paddling a raft toward the world’s highest commercially enjoyed waterfall to consciously plummet down the twenty foot “sweet little chute” before taking on the rest of the Kaituna River. Essentially, it’s a must-do for those who love adrenaline and probably-avoid for those who don’t like falling, or boats, or falling out of boats.
5. Jet Boating On A Glacial River
As far as crazy goes, it doesn’t get madder than stepping into a bright red boat that has a huge jet engine attached to the back and then getting blasted up and down a crystal-clear, super-shallow glacial river lodged at the bottom of a narrow canyon. So why not just say, “sod it!”, head to the outskirts of adrenaline-ville (aka Queenstown), take a deep breath, hope you don’t end up in someone’s selfie-shot, and challenge yourself to pick out a single detail amongst the blur of ice and water. We bet you can’t.
6. Sand-Surfing At Ninety Mile Beach
Bucket List Entry No.17: run toward the summit of a Te Paki dune, dive into the air, pull your bodyboard under your belly and zoom down the absolutely mahoosive sand slope towards the beach (oh, and screaming, “this is what I live for,” is an optional extra we very much recommend). It’s just such an awesome experience. In fact, it’s so awesome, we would say this is a must-have moment. So, if you’re heading north of Auckland, make sure you head to Ninety Mile Beach for some sand-surfing, normal-surfing and swimming. And if you’re not heading that way, pull over, turn off your campervan and tweak your plans.
7. Take On The Tongariro Crossing
New Zealand isn’t shy of hikes. In fact, on the hiking front, it’s way wealthier than most, even King Midas. The problem is picking one (#choiceoverload). That’s where the Tongariro Crossing swoops in wearing a red cape and matching mask because, if you only have time to do one hike while in Kiwi-land, you need to make sure it’s this one. It’s twelve miles long, it cuts through volcanic territory, there’s a bunch of bright green n’ steaming crater lakes to pop on your Instagram, it’s really easy to get to and, best of all, you can crush it in a day. It’s a win-win-win-win… win.
8. See The Magic Of Milford Sound
There is epic wilderness, and then there is epic wilderness. Milford Sound is the latter. Hidden away at the very bottom of the South Island, this slice of wilderness pie is like stepping into a set from King Kong. The word fiord springs to our minds, except using one word to describe this place feels a bit wrong. It’s just too awesome for a one-word answer, so we’re going to go overkill with the words and describe this place as a long, narrow and deep inlet of enchanted waters that ripple between vertical cliffs and shy glaciers, where each jagged mountain edge is covered in a hundred of waterfalls. It’s rare for two reasons: it’s truly untouched and, it doesn’t matter whether you get to explore it in the sun or rain, it always looks incredible (especially by kayak).
9. Unleash Your Paddle At Abel Tasman
Buoy-o-buoy is Abel Tasman the most beautifully-badass stretch of coast ever whittled together by Mother Nature. Sandy beaches so white you need to wear sunglasses at all times? Check. Crazy cool rock formations to gawp at? Check. Clear blue bays? Check. Shores lined with million-year-old forests? Check. Amazing swimming spots next to stretches of sand perfect for some bathing-suit time? Super-check. It really is awesome. But to crank it up to eleven, make sure you‘re exploring all the little nooks, crannies, bays and beaches on a kayak. It’s just the best.
10. Black-Water Rafting. Yes. Black-Water.
The phrase, “it’s like nothing you’ve ever done before,” is usually a certified eye-roller. But black-water rafting your way through a maze of subterranean caves lit up by glowworms on every wall and ceiling probably is like nothing you’ve ever done before - and how cool is that. Heading into the Waitomo caves would be totes-amazeballs without the gazillion glow worms, but having them light up the way like near-but-far twinkling stars is the best sort of trippy every adventure could use a little more of.
And with all that adventure said and covered, what are you waiting for? Go and get your pulse-thumping, your eyes-popping and your heart beating through your towel poncho like never before.
Thanks for reading. For more travelspiration and far-flung adventure ideas, follow us on Instagram and Facebook and, you know, don’t forget to grab yourself the most awesome towel ever made… and some shorts… and a hair wrap... and probably a poncho too. After all, everyone looks good in stripes.