The Kiwis have made it possible to jump, drive, slide, roll, fly or hike through pretty much any part of the country’s terrain – making New Zealand a wonderland for adrenaline seekers.
Black abyss caving, Waitomo
Leave your nerves above ground before abseiling 37m into a cylindrical hole small enough that you can touch the edge with your feet. This is the breathtaking beginning to the five-hour underground Black Abyss tour at Ruakuri Cave exploring a secret world which was hidden beneath the sea 30 million years ago.
With two guides and a group of up to 12, you’ll zip-wire, leap, tube, squeeze and wade your way through ice-cold water during this thrilling adventure, stopping along the way to take in the glorious sight of glow-worms.
The grand finale is climbing two fairly small but powerful waterfalls as you make your way to the surface of Waitomo Forest and the end of this unforgettable journey.
Book from £94pp with The Legendary Black Water Rafting Co (waitomo.com).
Rafting, River Valley, Taihape
Get ready to face powerful rapids, broken water and large drops as you snake along this exciting adventure.
There are 10 major Grade 4-5 (the most extreme) foamy rapids on this scenic 12km run nestled in the heart of the countryside.
However, it’s a team activity – you’ll be relying on your group to paddle hard and to hold on even harder when instructed.
If you do want to get even wetter, you can jump into the ice-cold water from a designated cliff edge before tackling the biggest rapid of all. This is a heart-in-your-mouth adrenaline activity. Prices from
Nevis Arc Swing, Queenstown
Flying through the air with the greatest of ease has never been so terrifying and thrilling at the same time. The Nevis Arc is the world’s highest swing and will give you such a buzz, you won’t be able to sleep.
Decide whether to travel 40, 80 or the exhilarating 120m as you power through the air, suspended 153m above the rugged Doolan’s Creek in Nevis Canyon.
Go with a friend or go solo – but this mind-blowing ride takes guts, as you have to pull the release yourself.
Not for the faint-hearted.
Prices from £63pp (bungy.co.nz).
Ledge Bungy, Queenstown
So you’ve done a bungy jump before and now you’re looking for the next level?
How about jumping from a ‘runway’ backwards and flipping 400m into the darkness by trying the Ledge Bungy at night?
At 400m above Queenstown, you’ll have the stars for company as you ride the gondola to the Skyline Complex to the platform which is cantilevered out from the cliff face.
Choose from a body harness or ankle tie for the bungy of your choice. Then, take a deep breath, glance at the stunning views of Lake Wakatipu and The Remarkables mountain range, and confront your darkest fears.
From £65 (ajhackett.com).
Glacier hike, Franz Josef
Here you can have two types of adventure. A heli-hike will take in scenery you couldn’t possibly witness any other way. You’ll land high up on the glacier for a two-hour tour among the ice caves, pinnacles and seracs.
For the hardcore, opt for the full-day hike. Equipped with crampons, you’ll feel like a true adventurer as you trek deep into the heart of the ice-blue glacier.
In five hours, you will slide through ice caves, shuffle down near vertical ice walls – and enjoy lunch while taking in the breathtaking scenery.
Heli-hike from £180, full-day climb from £74 (franzjosefglacier.com).
Skydive, Lake Wanaka, Wanaka
It’s not just the spectacular scenery that motivates people to jump from a plane at 15,000ft.
But with a flight that takes in views of Mt Cook and Mt Aspiring – the country’s highest snow-capped mountains – this is arguably the best place in NZ to do it. You’ll be distracted by the stunning glaciers, river valleys and glistening lakes as you fly over Lake Wanaka.
You won’t need any previous experience as you’ll be attached to a qualified guide. Then it’s time to jump, falling for 60 seconds through the air – at about a heady 200km/h.
Before you know it, the parachute will open and you’ll be gliding peacefully back down to earth.
From £180 (skydivewanaka.com).
Powered by twin V8 engines and boasting more than 820 horse power, hold on to your hat while this dynamic jetboat zips across the Buller River. You’ll be taken closer than ever before to rock walls and craggy overhangs at terrifying speeds.
The experienced guide is fun and informative. Listen to him, but don’t be caught off-guard for the 360-degree ‘Hamilton’ spins that will leave you unsure of where you began and where you’re heading.
Prices from £36 (adventuretours.co.nz)
JAG Air aerobatics flight, Queenstown
Gain a new perspective on the world as you loop-the-loop, twist, turn and feel g-forces unlike ever before while zooming along at more than 300km/h.
Strapped inside this specialist aerobatics aircraft, the Pitts Special, you’ll soar along the ridges of The Remarkables towards Kinston and over Lake Wakatipu.
Although it’s not for the faint-hearted, you’ll be in very safe hands for this high octane 20-minute journey, as at the controls is an ex-fighter pilot with nine years’ experience. See the world spin like crazy as the sky and ground merge into one.
If you’re not feeling brave, you can opt for the scenic flight, which will take in the breathtaking view – and, if you change your mind while you’re up there, ask the pilot to tip the plane upside down to liven things up.
If you’ve seen the Red Bull Air Race on TV, you know what you’re in for – the ride of your life, and an experience you’re not likely to forget.
From £132pp (jagair.co.nz)
WHEN TO GO: Anytime. Winter is June to August.
GETTING THERE: Fly to Auckland via Singapore/Bangkok with Qantas from £875 return. qantas.com.au/uk.
GETTING AROUND: Hop on to the Kiwi Experience bus, where you can also book your adventure activities. Take the Funky Chicken route to explore both the North and South islands for a minimum of 20 days for prices from £550. See kiwiexperience.com.
CURRENCY: New Zealand dollars. 1 GBP = 2 NZD.
GOING OUT: A beer costs about $4.
ACCOMNMODATION: Shared accomodation is included in the price of tours with the Kiwi Experience. This includes homestays, hostels and hotels.
– Carol Driver