9 NZ Outdoor Activities for Every Thrill-Seeker

Jun 17, 2020
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From rafting over waterfalls and jumping from a plane to skiing and surfing in the same day, New Zealand proudly owns the title of Adrenaline Capital of the World. Grab your GoPro, pack a change of clothes (just in case, ya know...) and get ready to scream – here are nine outdoor adventures in New Zealand that thrill-seekers can't miss.


Heli-skiing

Where to do it: Queenstown, Wanaka, Mount Cook

Prefer mountains all to yourself? Avoid the crowds and hit slopes that are completely untouched with a day of heli-skiing in the South Island. Enjoy the world's best view from your seat in the sky, and that's only the beginning! You'll get dropped off at the top of the run before carving your way through fresh powder down the ridges, chutes and bowls in the backcountry. Meet your heli at the bottom, then do it all again.


Bungy jumping

Where to do it: Queenstown, Taupo, Auckland

A classic must-do on any adrenaline-junkie's bucket list, the bungy jump is one of the activities that put NZ on the map. Commercial bungy jumping launched here in the 80s, so this country does it better than anyone else out there. Take a leap of faith and throw yourself off a platform over a river, a bridge over the harbour, or even Auckland's Sky Tower, for a rush like no other. If you think you're tough, here's a challenge... The Nevis Bungy in Queenstown is 134m high, requires a 4WD and then a cable car to reach the platform, and there's an eight-second freefall. We dare you!

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Skydiving

Where to do it: Loads of places! Bay of Islands, Bay of Plenty, Auckland, Taupo, Abel Tasman, Queenstown

Keeping with the theme of jumping from unnatural places, why not throw caution into the wind and fall from a plane too? There are skydiving companies all throughout the country, so whether you want views of beaches, lakes, mountains or glaciers, there's a jump for you. And if you thought New Zealand was beautiful from the ground, just wait 'til you're 12,000 feet in the air. Absolutely mind-blowing.


White water rafting

Where to do it: Rotorua, Taupo, Hawke's Bay, Christchurch, Queenstown, West Coast

This activity can suit both experienced adventure bunnies and newbies alike, with rivers being graded from 1 to 5 in terms of difficulty. Grade 1 rivers are mostly calm and tranquil, perfect for someone looking for a paddle through stunning natural landscapes, whereas Grade 5 white water rafting is an extreme sport not for the faint-hearted and may include rafting over waterfalls. Great for team-building, or just for watching your friends freak out.

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Diving

Where to do it: Northland, Bay of Plenty, Coromandel, Fiordland National Park and more

Not as terrifying as most of the others on this list, but still a can't-miss adventure for any outdoorsy travellers. New Zealand's seemingly endless coastline, abundant marine reserves and shipwrecks dotted around the seabed make it a scuba diving nirvana. Our top picks are the Poor Knight's Islands in Northland, the Rainbow Warrior wreck also in Northland, and Milford Sound in the South Island. Snorkellers can also get amongst underwater life with amazing snorkelling at Goat Island Marine Reserve, Cathedral Cove and Great Barrier Island.


Hiking

Where to do it: Basically everywhere

If your idea of a holiday involves mountain cabins, fresh air and getting off the grid, then NZ is definitely the place for you. There's almost 1,000 huts placed along backcountry treks all throughout the country, with a huge range of options from easy morning walks to multi-day camping adventures. The Tongariro Crossing is probably the most well-known, but we suggest checking out the Routeburn Track, the Milford Track and the Queen Charlotte Track. Note that the huts get filled up over the summer months, so book in advance.

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Mountain biking

Where to do it: Rotorua, Taupo, Ruapehu, Nelson, Canterbury, Wanaka, Queenstown

From wine trails with stops at vineyards to epic and exhilarating ridge rides in the mountains, there's a bike track in NZ for any type of cyclist. Race through towering forests in Rotorua, ride alongside magical coastal views in the Marlborough Sound, or go cross-country over extinct volcanoes in Canterbury.


Jet boating

Where to do it: Taupo, Queenstown and more

In yet another edition of "who the heck thought of this?", NZ's famous jet boats have thrilled hundreds of thousands of tourists and locals alike. Fancy yourself as a bit of a speed demon? Jump on and buckle up for a ride through winding canyons, getting a bit too close for comfort to spiky cliff-faces and rocks sticking out of the river while skimming along the water. Taupo's Hukafalls Jet is probably our favourite as it gives you a sweet (and soaking!) view of the epic Huka Falls, but you can find jet boating adventures on most of the major rivers in the country.

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Rotorua adventures

Not a single adventure in itself but still worth a mention on this list, Rotorua is almost like the Queenstown of the North Island. Jump in a giant blow up ball and roll down a hill (also known as the Zorb or OGO), race your friends down the mountain on the luge or zipline above the native Redwood Forest. Want to relax? Chill out (or warm up) with a visit to the Polynesian Spa mud pools and soak your troubles away, before waking up the next morning for another day of adventure.

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