New Zealand’s natural playground is vast and varied. Ancient rain forests, pristine lakes, snowy mountains, or golden beaches all offer tantalising open space and incredible opportunities for adventure. Choose to explore them with one giant leap or many, many small steps.
Take to the sky
New Zealanders seem determined to prove Kiwis can fly, with a pioneering attitude towards hurtling through space via bungy, helicopter, zipwire and even slingshot.
Queenstown is the ultimate pitstop for adrenaline junkies, presenting several unique airborne opportunities. Take the plunge at the world’s original commercial bungy site at Kawarau Bridge, or try the world-first Nevis Catapult, which tosses its human cargo into space with 3Gs of force. The Adventure Capital is home to the world’s highest cliff jump, complete with 60 metres of freefall, and it encourages punters to jump out of a perfectly good aeroplane at 15,000ft. Those who prefer to travel upwards can clip on and conquer the highest waterfall cable climb in the world in Wanaka.
Scenic flight operators supply a more sedate way to take in expansive views of the majestic Southern Alps, the out-of-this-world beauty of Fiordland – or even orbiting a gigantic sperm whale from the air above Kaikōura. Helicopter tours can touch down on terrain untouched by man, landing on a pristine alpine glacier for an ice walk, or at the top of a magnificent mountain for some heli-skiing. Alternatively, a hot air balloon ride is the optimum way to greet the dawn. Watch the morning sun roll in over Canterbury’s braided rivers and pastoral plains from on high.
Rotorua’s forests can be explored like a bird, soaring through the peaceful beauty on a network of ziplines, or traversing swing bridges high above the forest floor. Admire Northland’s magnificent coastal landscapes from the heavens by plane or even parasail.
Auckland’s iconic architecture affords exciting opportunities to launch, too. Take a SkyJump from 192 metres up the SkyTower, or harness up and SkyWalk around the tower for breath-taking views. Enjoy a guided walk over the Auckland Harbour Bridge, or bungy jump from beneath it.
Take a hike (or a bike)
For those wanting to keep their feet on the ground, nothing beats a good walk. In New Zealand they are so epic they’re called Great Walks; ten premier tracks that pass through Mother Nature at her most spectacular. Visitors can choose their own pace, capability, to go it alone or with experienced guides – and even their preferred natural setting.
Journey through dramatic volcanic landscapes with a Tongariro Alpine crossing at dusk. Roam or kayak along the Abel Tasman Coast Track, with its golden beaches and lush coastal forest. Hike or mountain bike along the limestone karst landscapes and rainforest of the Paparoa Track, before dropping in at Punakaiki to marvel at the world-famous pancake rocks.
A coastal trek on Coromandel Peninsula takes in three mind-blowing natural attractions – spectacular Cathedral Cove, Te-Wanganui-A Hei Marine Reserve, and the unique thermal mineral pools at Hot Water Beach. Weary hikers can turn up at low tide and dig their own thermal spa to relax in.
Mountain bikers will also find no shortage of space for freewheeling fun, from the skyline ridges of the Queen Charlotte Track in the Marlborough Sounds to the soaring redwood forests of Rotorua. The latter is also home to Skyline Gravity Park, the world’s first all-season gondola-accessed MTB park.
On the waves or under the sea
New Zealand’s oceans, rivers and lakes offer multiple adventures to dive into. Choose scenic sailing through the Bay of Islands or Milford Sound, or crewing an America’s Cup yacht across Auckland’s harbour. Jetboat at speed or kayak at leisure in Mt Aspiring National Park. Raft the whitewater rapids in the Tongariro River, or overnight with the wildlife on the placid Doubtful Sound.
New Zealand’s wild West Coast is a surfing favourite, from surf-pro Piha to relaxed Raglan. The country’s underwater beauty and clear, clean waters ensures it is also a diver’s paradise. Tutukaka is a favourite place to embark, with divers able to explore sea caves, kelp forests and swim alongside schools of brightly coloured fish in the Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve, or investigate sunken shipwrecks.
Sit back and soak it in
Those who prefer to let the wide open spaces come to them can jump aboard The TranzAlpine. One of the world’s great train journeys, it traverses 223 kilometres (139 miles) of monumental South Island landscape, through the rolling Canterbury Plains, ascending the mighty Southern Alps, then descending through rainforest to Greymouth. Cameras cannot do it justice.
See it for yourself
Interested in traveling to New Zealand to have amazing adventures, like the activities described here? Coastwise Travel is a certified New Zealand travel specialist, and we would love to help you plan your trip. We are a full-service travel agency and will put together an itinerary according to your personal priorities and preferences. Click here to get started.