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20 Thrilling Outdoor Adventures in New Zealand

September 12, 2015

New Zealand is a land of extremes, and we’re not just talking about its diverse and gorgeous landscape. The country is, after all, filled with some of the best and most exciting adventures for the outdoor enthusiast, from abseiling through cliffs and waterfalls to Zorbing (yep, that’s a thing- and it’s crazy!). If you’re someone who’s always up for an adrenaline rush, New Zealand is by far a country you need to visit and experience at least once in your lifetime!

Ready to get your thrill on in some of the most beautiful outdoor places in the planet? Check out these crazy activities waiting for you in New Zealand:

 

1Blackwater Raft Through Raukai Cave

The glow worms at Waitomo Caves made it into our list of most surreal places in the earth, and one of the best ways to experience one of New Zealand and the world’s most fantastical outdoor places is by plunging through the caves by underground rafting through them. There are plenty of waterfalls as well as twists and turns as you wind your way through the cave system, and the calm surrealness of the shimmering lights is complimented by the thrilling rush of the waterfalls and rapids inside the caves.

 

2 Go Bungee Jumping off of Kawarau Bridge

Queenstown, New Zealand, is quite possibly the original adrenaline adventure capital of the world, and no enthusiast can really lay claim to saying they experienced the wild side of New Zealand without bungee jumping off of the famous Kawarau Bridge. It’s home to the first bungee jump, and is quite possibly the most well loved and well known bungee jumping location in the entire world. Plus, you can make it as extreme as you want to, even bungee jumping into the water and getting fully submerged during your jump in the river below. You can ride solo or with a buddy, and make it as crazy and thrilling pf a ride as you like.

 

3 Ride Horses along the Southern Alps

The Southern Alps of New Zealand are a snow lover’s haven of sports and activities, but you can still enjoy them without the snow on horseback. There are miles of trails and plenty of stables that offer treks along the Alps and through some of New Zealand’s most dramatic and quintessential New Zealand landscape scenes. There are plenty of lakes and rivers to splash through, and miles of open land and some of the country’s oldest trails.

 

4 Go Bodyboarding at Ninety Mile Beach

For picture perfect sunsets and consistent waves, it doesn’t get much better than New Zealand’s Ninety Mile Beach. Not only can you drive along the strip of beach that lines the coast for almost 50 miles, you can bodyboard down it’s endless dunes for a spin on surfing with no wetsuit required. Simply grab a boogie board and ride your way down the waterless waves for a whole new spin to your beach day- and it’s shark free.

 

5 Scuba Dive the The Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve

The Poor Knights Islands are surrounded by history and legends, but there’s just as much to discover beneath the water as there is on land. You could easily spend months diving off the coast of the islands and exploring the sea creatures below; the miles of coastline provide endless opportunities for dive sites, and each site is a completely different landscape of aquatic life and sea anemone. If you’re already certified, be sure to bring your certificate; if not, there are plenty of places in New Zealand and around the Marine Reserve where you can get trained and dive with instructors.

 

6 Go Kayak Camping at Abel Tasman National Parks

Located at the north end of South Island, Abel Tasman National Park is one of my favorite parks in the entire world. It has everything a park can offer, from cliff lined shorelines to incredible beaches and miles of forested mountains. It’s actually New Zealand’s smallest national park, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty to do and a great host of ways to enjoy the outdoors. The best way to enjoy the park is by kayak, where you can easily visit and gaze upon the beaches, cliffs, and ocean up close and personal, and away from the crowds. If you have a night to spare, you can camp among the stars right along the beach at the park’s campsites and kayak straight from your site.

 

7 Skydive over the Mountains

Ok, skydiving is pretty much guaranteed to be a thrill based adventure no matter where in the world you go, right? But New Zealand’s landscape and outdoor beauty is so magnified and intense; it’s a rawness that is impressive in stature and just sheer size. What better way to appreciate it than by taking to the sky? There’s plenty of places on South Island where you can skydive right over the country’s Southern Alps and gaze down at mountain lakes, streams, forests, and oceans while plummeting through the air.

 

8Mountain Bike Rotorua

Rotorua and its lake are home to some of New Zealand’s most underrated and hidden gems for outdoor enthusiasts. There’s geysers that erupt regularly throughout the day, miles of some of the best mountain biking trails, and thermal mud pools. The town is steeped in Maori culture, and is a great place to explore by bike both in and out of town. The entire town is bike friendly, and the mountain bike capital of the world is filled with trails, bike friendly businesses, bike festivals, and plenty of things to see along the way. The town is also known for its many spas, so after a hard day out on the trails, feel free to relax and enjoy the softer side of Rotorua.

 

9Hike Aoraki/ Mount Cook National Park

Filled with snow capped mountains, lakes, and jaw dropping vistas, the Aoraki/Mount Cook Mackenzie Region, located in the very center of South Island, is the quintessential outdoor landscape of New Zealand that you think of when you imagine being there. There’s plenty of great hikes in New Zealand and the rest of Southeast Asia, but the mountains in the Mackenzie Region hold some of the best places to lace up your boots and enjoy a trek outdoors. No matter what your fitness level or time commitment, there are plenty of great hikes to get out and enjoy. You can walk along the turquoise waters of Lake Pukaki, or even hike the entire length of New Zealand along the Te Araroa Walkway.

 

10Go Canyon Swinging at Shotover Canyon

Swinging isn’t just for kids at a local playground. Embrace your inner child and release your adrenaline junkie by canyon swinging at Shotover Canyon, where you can ride the giant swing through the canyon from a nearly 400 foot tall platform. You’ll freefall for nearly 200 feet before the swing catches and arches you through the canyons walls above the river, for just over a 650 foot swing. Still not action packed enough for you? Those brave enough have the option of swinging upside down.

 

11Go Abseiling at Waitomo

If you’ve ever gone rock climbing, you probably have a good experience with rappelling, when you controll fall back down the rock wall. Abseiling is the extreme version of rappelling, where everything is more extreme and you somewhat free fall down the side of a cliff. There’s plenty of locations in New Zealand to experience the rush and sport, but go big or go home, right?

Waitomo is the best place for abseiling in New Zealand, and is the longest abseiling location in the country. From the top, you’ll abseiling straight into canyons before plummeting through waterfalls and canyon river shoots that wind throughout the Haggis Honking Holes.

 

12Skyjump the Auckland Skytower

If you’re up for a serious thrill ride in New Zealand’s skies, you can’t ask for much more than Skyjump, a New Zealand urban twist on bungee jumping. While Queenstown may be the adventure capital of the world, Auckland isn’t far behind. The city’s Skytower allows you to skyjump off the top of the building and plummet almost 700 feet off the side of the skyscraper. It’s not only the highest jump you can try in New Zealand, it’s also the world’s one and only wired base jump, and you’ll enjoy the ride while traveling over 50 miles per hour. There’s no maximum age limit, so no matter how old you may feel there’s no reason not to try leaning out over the city for a bird’s eye view before jumping off.

 

13Canoe the Whanganui River

Canoeing is the best way to really soak up the outdoor beauty of New Zealand’s third longest river. The river has played a huge part in Maori history, and stretches of the river win hands down for some of the most surreal breathtaking and peacefully awe inspiring outdoor landscapes you’ll experience in New Zealand. It will take you a good 4 days or so to canoe the entire stretch, and along the way you can camp at different campsites and huts along the river, as well as take a walk along the Bridge to Nowhere.

 

14Heliboard down a Mountain

Yes, you may have been snowboarding, but you haven’t heliboarding in New Zealand’s Southern Alps region lets you enjoy the snowy mountains in a whole new light. Instead of riding the ski lift or gondola up the mountain, you can take to the air and fly in a helicopter before jumping out and boarding your way down the mountain on ungroomed and untouched mountain landscapes and slopes. There’s really no feeling like being the first one to discover the mountain side for yourself, and there’s no one around to have to curve around.

 

15Take a Ride on the Skywire

Ever dream of flying? While flying in a plane is a far cry from the natural freedom that a bird must feel as he soars above the earth, New Zealand has produced the second best things to sprouting wings yourself, and a much more natural soaring flight than you’ve ever experienced in a plane. The Skywire is the longest cable car, or flying fox, adventure ride you can find across the globe, and lets you soar almost 500 feet in the air above rolling hills, forests, and river beds. For almost 2 miles the only sounds you’ll hear are the same sounds birds hear as they fly through the air; well, that and perhaps a couple of screams from fellow passengers, especially when the Skywire shoots you backwards at speeds up to 60 miles per hour.

 

16Conquer an Aerial Obstacle Course

I bet you remember doing obstacle courses in elementary school and family reunions, but you’ve never tried an obstacle course like this. New Zealand’s take on the obstacle course brings the challenge to a whole new level, literally; the entire course is set anywhere from 6 to 60 feet up in the air. There’s different paths and courses you can take, where you’ll encounter everything from bridges, zip lines, and hanging ropes challenges. Located at Adrenalin Forest, the name really says it all. You’ll definitely be creating memories of a lifetime, and you can even rent a go-pro to catch the entire challenging course on camera and prove to your friends back home you conquered the Indiana or Tarzan jumps.

 

17Try Zorbing down a Mountain

If you haven’t tried Zorbing yet, it’s just because you haven’t been to New Zealand yet. The adrenaline packed activity has taken the country by storm, and it’s one of the craziest ways to enjoy the New Zealand landscape up close and personal. Much like a hamster in a running ball, you sit in a plastic ball and roll around. Unlike your childhood pet, you’ll go zorbing straight down a hill and reach speeds up to around 30 miles per hour! Don’t worry though, the large plastic balls are packed with plenty of cushion, so while you might get a bit dizzy you will be pretty safe on your adrenaline packed ride down the hillside.

 

18Paraglide over the New Zealand Coast

If skydiving seems a little too fast past for you, and the Skywire seems a little too intense, you can still enjoy New Zealand’s beauty from the sky by paragliding or hang gliding. You don’t need to be certified, and you can go tandem with a professional who will do the hard work while you soar effortlessly through the sky and over the lush mountain scenery and oceans beneath you.  There’s plenty of places to try it out in the capital of adventure sports, and I promise you won’t regret the ride.

 

19Raft the Rangitata River

Located at the very base of the highest mountain range in New Zealand’s South Island, the Rangitata River is the perfect whitewater rafting spot, with over 70 miles of rushing rapids and scenic twists and turns. There’s plenty of Class V rapids, and the freezing glacial water will definitely add a thrill to the journey. The beautiful turquoise water against the sacred mountain backdrops is worth risking the freezing temperatures of the waters, and you’ll have bragging rights for rafting some of the only Class V rapids in the world.

 

20Surf the Tutukaka Coast

There are of great surf breaks all along the coast of New Zealand on both islands. No matter what your skill level, you can find everything from easy sandbar breaks to some of the most challenging breaks you could hope to encounter. While the weather and time of year changes many of the area’s surf spots, Tutukaka Coast is a great place for solid surfing year round and no matter the time of day. Sandy Bay is probably the most popular surfing beach in the area, and there are plenty of other surfers and surf shops that can help outfit you and show you the good breaks.

Ready to tackle some of New Zealand’s most thrilling adventures in it’s gorgeous outdoors? Plan your trip’s details and itinerary at Trekeffect.

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Bryn Wied
Bryn Wied is an outdoor enthusiast and serious travelaholic. She explores every inch of the globe in her Sanuk flip flops with her favorite travel buddy/hubby Matt. Matt and Bryn live in California where they blog, surf, snowboard and raise kids in between road trips and camping adventures.