Skip to content

10 Awesome New Zealand Adventures

March 22, 2011

This post is part of my participation in Blog4NZ, an effort by the travel blogging community to promote tourism to New Zealand after the Christchurch earthquakes. Many people are postponing their travel or are afraid to plan trips to NZ after the earthquakes, even though most of New Zealand was unaffected. And even affected places like Christchurch could still use the help of outsiders. Tourism is a big industry for New Zealand, and while the country is suffering enough from this natural disaster, we should not make their economy suffer more by avoiding traveling there.

New Zealand is the land of adventure, and just about any crazy, thrilling or outdoor activity you can imagine, you can find there. Places like Queenstown are hubs for adventure activities, but there’s tons to do all over the country. From zorbing to bungee jumping, there are some things that are quintessentially Kiwi. Other things are just plain awesome anywhere you do them, but especially in NZ. New Zealand is a place to lower your inhibitions and do those crazy things you never thought you’d do, getting your fill of adrenaline and pushing yourself to the limits. It’s also a place to truly experience nature, taking in all the beauty and wildlife the country has to offer. The following are what I consider the top 10 activities to do in New Zealand and the best places to do them.

Skydiving – Taupo

It’s almost sacrilege to go to New Zealand and not try skydiving. You can do it all over the country, but I found Taupo to be one of the most amazing places I could ever imagine skydiving. (It obviously left an impression as it is the banner for this site!) In the air you’ll find yourself above Lake Taupo, the largest lake in New Zealand — and the same size as Singapore!

You’ll also have fantastic views over Tongariro National Park, where you might recognize some scenery from Lord of the Rings (including the mighty Mt. Doom). It doesn’t get much more thrilling than skydiving, and I have to say this was one of the coolest, most insane things I’ve ever done, anywhere.

Canyon Swing – Queenstown

While bungee jumping has become synonymous with New Zealand, it’s not everyone’s idea of fun. I personally have this fear of my back snapping or throwing up in my own face while the bungee flings me up and down… Lovely, I know. The Canyon Swing is probably the absolute best alternative to bungee jumping. You get the same thrill/exhilaration/blinding fear as bungee jumping, without the nasty backlash (literally). And you can choose how you go off the edge, with a huge variety of different jumps rated by “dirty underpants” as to how scary they are. (I made the crazy decision to do two of the scariest rated ones — backwards and handstand — which literally left me begging them not to make me go!)

After screaming your lungs out, you’ll probably find yourself laughing giddily as you fall into a huge, gentle swoop at the end of your rope, swinging through the canyon in the comfort of your attached seat. (Click on the previous two links to see my own jumps. The following video of another guy’s jump, from a unique position above, is a little shaky because I’d just come up from my first swing!)

Glacier Climb – Franz Josef

One of the top things I’ve ever done in my life was climbing the Franz Josef Glacier. (Fox Glacier is also an option.) The climb takes 6-8 hours, and you have a good chance of having some rain, but the tour comes with the proper gear for the long day. You’ll be so mesmerized by the scenery and the experience you’re having, you’ll forget about being a bit cold. Waterfalls gush around you, blue ice tunnels wait to be explored, and you literally create a new path (with your guides hacking out steps just ahead of you) on your journey up the glacier. Walking around in crampons is pretty cool, too!

If this kind of a trek sounds like a bit too much for you, there is the option of taking a helicopter to the top. But personally, this hike was an experience of a lifetime for me and if you can handle it, I highly recommend going for it.

Whale Watching – Kaikoura

I’ve been whale watching a few times, and Kaikoura was by far the best experience I’ve ever had. In a little over two hours we saw eight whales — six sperm whales and two humpback whales. It was absolutely incredible! The boat tour itself was a crazy adventure. It was a bit rocky and the captain would speed off to find whales, then yell for us to all get up and scramble out to the deck to see the whale (and try to capture the elusive tail shot). Then he’d yell for us to get back inside to our seats, and the process would start again. It was a smaller boat, and everyone interacted and got excited together which made the whole adventure a lot more fun. Even once you’re off the boat, Kaikoura is an adorable little town to explore for a day, and you will likely spot a bunch of sea lions relaxing on the rocky shore near town. You can get pretty close, but be careful not to disturb them too much!

Sandboarding – Cape Reinga

Sandboarding is a fun (though slightly exhausting) activity that you can come across in different parts of the world, and everyone seems to do it differently. In Cape Reinga, in the Far North, we took the sledding approach (laying on your stomach with your feet up and your face first). It’s admittedly a little bit scary, as you go down the dunes really fast, and they warn you to watch your feet and movements or you could flip and hurt yourself… Scary! In fact, I got a little too excited as I neared the end of the run and ended up flipping and rolling to the end. I wasn’t hurt at all, but did get a fair bit of sand in my mouth — yum! It definitely got my heart racing and was a really fun activity — but that climb up the dune after every run gets to you pretty fast!

Zorbing – Rotorua

More and more places in the world are trying to recreate zorbing, by putting the big zorb balls in water and letting people try to run around in them. Don’t buy it — that is not real zorbing! Rotorua is where the real zorbing is at, and it’s one of those activities you really have to try while you’re in New Zealand. There are a few different ways you can try zorbing — you can do it wet (the original and best way, where the ball is filled with some water), strap yourself in and do it dry, or even do it with another person!

Zorbing is fun from the very start. First you have to jump through this tunnel-like hole just to get into the ball, and then you find yourself slipping and sliding (if it’s wet) as you attempt to stand up (you’ll probably fail). Then they push you down this hill (where you may go in a straight line or zig zag like crazy!) and you slip and slide like crazy around and around down the hill. That might sound miserable to some people, but I promise it is really good fun!

Paragliding/Hang Gliding – Queenstown

Queenstown is rife with adventure activities. If you’re still keen to take to the air, paragliding or hang gliding (in season) might be your thing. I was hoping to go hang gliding myself, but it wasn’t the right weather/season so I had to opt for paragliding instead. The scenery alone is worth every penny, and I was rapt with the views from the top of the mountain I was about to run off of(!). However, I did feel that paragliding was a bit ho-hum after skydiving, so if you’re planning to do both in New Zealand, try to go paragliding first. Again, though, the views are simply to die for, and you will enjoy the time to really soak in and enjoy them as you slowly and calmly float down to the ground below.

The actual jumping-off part (where you literally have to run as hard and fast as you can toward the cliff edge — almost pulling the tandem guide behind you) can be a bit terrifying — especially when they tell you to wait for the right wind, then say, “OK we’re just going to have to go for it and cross our fingers,” like they did to me! However, once you’re in the air it is one of the most relaxing and wonderful things you can imagine.

Bungee Jumping – Auckland or Queenstown

Most people would say a visit to New Zealand isn’t complete without a bungee jump. AJ Hackett is world famous for his bungees and he is a Kiwi. Both Auckland and Queenstown offer fantastic bungee experiences, so whether you want to group all your adventure activities together in Queenstown or try to spread them out across your journey, you’ll have no problem fitting in the perfect bungee jump, and you’ll have plenty of different jump types to choose from as well!

Wildlife Spotting – Otago Peninsula

New Zealand has some fantastic wildlife, from bird to whales to penguins and sea lions. The latter two can be found on the Otago Peninsula on the South Island (easily reached on a tour from Dunedin). You can wander the beach with your guide and come thisclose to sea lions. (Just be careful not to accidentally wander in on one napping in the grass and scare him!) When I visited, we were surprised to find out that all the sea lions were males, so the larger ones had taken some of the smaller ones to be their “cuddle” partners, and treated them submissively like females. It was quite a sight to see, especially when they start to fight over who gets to cuddle with who!

But what really makes Otago is the penguins. You can watch from higher up on the cliff as the yellow-eyed penguins make their way to shore, usually in pairs for safety. They hurriedly run past the sea lions, hoping none are hungry, and waddle their way up the cliff to safety where they can air out their wings in peace. While you can’t approach the penguins, if you’re lucky some might waddle right up near you and afford you a really great look at these adorable little creatures.

Hiking – Anywhere

New Zealand is the land of the outdoors. Both the North and South Island are chock full of gorgeous and varied landscapes — everything from stunning beaches to imposing glaciers and mountains, temperate rainforests to bubbling thermal pools. Everywhere you look on the map there is great hiking (or tramping as they liked to call it). One favorite day hike is in Tongariro National Park. An easy to reach and manageable hike (though sometimes closed in winter), this trek is through some of the most fantastic scenery you can imagine — taking in many spots used in the filming for Lord of the Rings, including Mt. Tongariro (AKA Mt. Doom). Other great “Walks” include the world-renowned Routeburn Track, Milford Track and Abel Tasman Coastal Track.

Interested in more about New Zealand? Read my previous post on New Zealand’s Far North: Reflections on Solo Travel or check out the Blog4NZ website for heaps more posts on this fantastic country.

Advertisements
11 Comments leave one →
  1. November 17, 2011 5:34 am

    This is great. Thanks for the good ideas. I just might have to do the Canyon Swing now.

  2. April 29, 2014 7:58 pm

    Hey there, I think your website might be having
    browser compatibility issues. When I look at your blog site in Safari, it looks
    fine but when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping.
    I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other then that, fantastic blog!

  3. July 11, 2014 7:50 am

    Drinking plenty of water through out your journey keeps
    you hydrated. It is a romantic and silent getaway as well as a water sports indulgence spot, surfing and snorkeling highly recommended.
    Often times 1 finds some cool music within the search consequences that have
    related song titles that have bail in the name,
    as for example the title ‘Bali run’ of classic song by the band
    ‘Fourplay’ live in concert.

  4. tml> permalink
    June 1, 2015 4:33 pm

    Structure connections with those who “refer you” along with your client
    word of mouth actually is effective.

  5. June 2, 2015 12:32 am

    %first_paragraphHere are ten ways to jump start your diet. In order to lose weight there are many things we can eliminate from our diet including sugar, trans fats, and fast food. However there are many great foods and supplements we can add to our diet to aid in our weight-loss goals.

    Several diet regimens promise you ways on how to lose weight fast. The lemonade diet is easy to prepare and the cabbage soup is easy on the budget. The Scarsdale 14-day diet puts forward more options making it easy to stick to and keep losing that excess weight. Some are manageable, some are ineffectual while others are pricey.

    #3) Eat healthier
    Focus on consuming more natural foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains. Some people say you should be eating six times a day, but this is unrealistic and incredibly inconvenient. Fruits and vegetables in particular are ideal for weight loss. Shoot for consuming four times daily, spaced every 2-4 hours. You need to eat small quantities more frequently to keep the metabolism going. #4) Eat more frequently
    Three meals a day is not enough.

    But try to stay away from too much cheese or processed meats such as sausage or bacon. Choose some fresh fruit on the side. Breakfast, an integral part of our eating structure can be started with eggs. Well you need to have to stay away from calories. Skip the pancakes and fried items. You can include egg dishes, preferably white egg dishes.

    Eating small and frequent meals increases your metabolic rate, so you burn more calories, thus making it easier to burn fat. Eating frequently and do not skip meals
    Consistency is another very important factor, that the majority of people ignore. Skipping meals is something that slows down the metabolic rate.

    People too often concentrate of weight loss only, which is a mistake, because the scale does not tell you what exactly and how much, you are losing. The more muscle you have, the more calories your body has to burn, because muscle just needs a lot of calories. How to lose weight fast without pills
    Maintain muscle
    If you want to burn fat at a very high rate, then you need as much muscle mass as possible.

    The sugar found in fruits and berries are acceptable because the fiber in them helps slow the intake of sugar in the body. Just avoid fruit juices, which are almost only sugar, and because of the processing the fiber has been removed, so there is little goodness left.

    There are a few different reasons, but keeping fast for two days is one of the most famous recommendations. These diet help to recommend a short fast to reduce weight quickly. Taking no food, fasting diets etc can cause blood sugar problems will give side effects that encompasses fainting, dizziness and blurred vision. As such, these diets are not suggested for anyone. There are various diets drifting around the internet with varieties of names and a similar preface. It is essential that you know that following these types of diets can result in serious complications.

    Coconut oil has been used in tropical cultures for thousands of year as a weight-loss aid and normal part of everyday life. Coconut oil is a healthy fat lowers cholesterol, gives you increased energy, and gets your body into fat-burning mode for the rest of the day!

    We recommend the healthy alternative of an effective exercise program, sensible diet and proper lifestyle to achieve a gradual but permanent weight loss. If you are someone who has always had a weight problem, I am sure you must have gone through many phases of dieting and then losing weight, only to gain it back again, once your will power gives away! It can be really frustrating for anyone to go through this never ending circle! You will observe that these components are not exactly the easiest of easy ways to lose weight because self-discipline is required.

    Losing weight fast without pills is certainly possible, because pills are a very poor way to lose weight anyway and all you really lose is your money. So eating small, frequent meals and not skipping meals, has to become a habit.

    It is similar to the conventional Scarsdale plan but it uses many vegetables – especially made for those who do not eat meat. The only thing to remember here are the vegetables not allowed such as avocados, dry beans (except soybeans), sweet potatoes or yam. – Vegetarian Scarsdale Diet: Another effective how to lose weight fast diet is the vegetarian Scarsdale diet.

    We have near about one million customers globally; they are fully satisfied with our treatment. People who are looking for reduce weight, can use it and get benefit by this medicine. It is a pure herbal treatment, people who think how to lose weight fast, and they can use this medicine and feel result of Slim-XL. The quality of Slim-XL is that it increases your metabolism and burn off fat. It would burn your fat and reduce your weight but provide you energy also.

    One thing should be sure that the program implicates counseling help for changing eating activity as well as personal habits of which you are required for. In fact, Fast Weight Loss plans generally give only temporary weight loss benefits and as soon you stop the useful requirements of these diets, the weight ineluctably comes right back very quickly. Weight Loss Program doesn’t meant only for the weekly duration but also to be followed or attended too.%

  6. October 9, 2015 2:42 am

    I don’t care about this, now i’m earning around £1700 a month.
    There is tricky method i found on the web. If you want to learn it
    too, just type in google: Irahsik’s betting system

Trackbacks

  1. New Zealand’s Far North: Reflections on Solo Travel « Girl, Unmapped
  2. Lazy in Lima « Girl, Unmapped
  3. Beware: Traffic Control « Girl, Unmapped
  4. Travel the Thrifty Way: My Budget Travel Tips « Girl, Unmapped
  5. How I Became a Traveler: From Shy Kid to Fearless Adventurer « Girl, Unmapped

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: