11 Best Adrenaline Activities You Must Try in New Zealand
Adrenaline, adventure, and New Zealand go hand in hand. New Zealand is a paradise for the outdoor enthusiasts, sports lovers, and adrenaline junkies who travel to the country to enjoy the incredible scenery and to make their heart rate go up. In this guide, we've compiled the best 11 outdoor adrenaline activities you must try while exploring New Zealand.
New Zealand is one of the most beautiful and fascinating countries in the world, and the rough conditions often tempt travelers to explore the country in more adrenaline and adventurous way. You will meet a lot of people while traveling around New Zealand, and one of the first questions most of them will ask you is, what adrenaline activities have you done so far. Or what activities are you planning to do.
Have you tried bungee jumping in Queenstown? What about white water rafting? I'm planning on skydiving over Taupo Lake it's going to be awesome. You get the idea.
Obviously, the possibility that you arrived in New Zealand without any intention to try something crazy or something you would not do at home is not an option here.
On the next few pages, we want to inspire you to try something you've never done before, to get out of your comfort zone, and have the time of your life. There is no better country in the world where to try the following thrilling activities as New Zealand is incredibly scenic and picturesque, and the beautiful surroundings will enhance your experience.
Let's dive into it!
#1 BUNGEE JUMPING IN QUEENSTOWN
There is probably not more classical adrenaline activity than bungee jumping in Queenstown.
If you've ever wanted to try bungee jumping, you won't find a more iconic bridge you can jump from than Kawarau Bridge, only a short drive away from Queenstown.
Queenstown is considered to be the adventure capital of the world, and although almost every country has a city like this, Queenstown is truly an amazing place, and you should visit it even when you're not planning on doing any craziness. But that's probably not the case when you're reading this post.
The Kawarau Bridge is 43 meters high, but it looks much higher, and it is not that easy to overcome your fear when your heart is pounding while standing on the edge of the bridge only seconds before your jump. But thousands of people had done it before you, so you'll make it as well. It is true that you can do bungee jumping in many other locations around the world, so you might be wondering why just right this bridge in Queenstown is so famous. The answer is simple.
The Kawarau Bridge was the first place in the world where the first commercial bungy took place. That's why travelers from all around the world flock here.
Not only to experience something special (although this is for sure the reason number one) but also they want to see where it all began.
#2 SKY WALK IN AUCKLAND
When we arrived in Auckland, during the first time we were walking in the city, we could not help but notice the tallest building in the city, the Sky Tower.
Nowadays, it is not an unknown activity to see a large city from above, almost every metropolis has a tower similar to this one, we've visited quite many of them, for example, the Calgary Tower, and we believe you have too.
But it would not have been Kiwis if they hadn't invented an absolutely crazy experience.
If standing behind the glass and overlooking Auckland from 220 meters above the ground is not that exciting for you (the Sky Tower is 328 meters high and it is the tallest building in the southern hemisphere), you simply have to try the Sky Walk.
You'll be walking outside around the rim 192 meters above ground with no handrails it will be just you, and your heartbeat, and of course, splendid views. As during the 15 months in New Zealand, we met plenty of backpackers from all around the world, we know, that for some of them the rim walk did not sound that appealing.
In case you are seeking something even more thrilling, there is one more activity called Sky Jump, and it is exactly what you think it is - you will jump off the 192 meters at 85 km an hour.
#3 Franz Josef Glacier Hike & Heli Ride
New Zealand's West Coast is mind-blowing, and this part of the country has some of the must-visit places every traveler put on the itinerary, such as two most famous glaciers in New Zealand, Franz Josef, and Fox.
Those two glaciers are retreating pretty fast (thankfully not that fast as Pastoruri Glacier in Peru), so you should visit them as soon as you can. The most classic way how to see Franz Josef and Fox Glacier is to walk from the parking lot a couple of kilometers via the glacial valley until you get either to the elevated viewpoint or to the mouth of the glacier.
But can you imagine how thrilling it could be to see the glacier from the bird's eyes view, then land on the glacier and hike on it as well?
The good thing is that you do not have to only imagine it, as you can book a Heli-Hike Tour on Franz Josef Glacier.
If you've never flown with a helicopter, we must warn you, that it is an absolutely awe-inspiring and addictive experience, and it is hard to find a more beautiful place in the world where to try it.
Where to stay in Franz Josef | Budget: Franz Josef Montrose Hostel Lodge | Mid-range: Lake Matheson Motel | Luxury: Distinction Fox Glacier - Te Weheka Boutique Hotel
#4 Waitomo Caves CAVING
Not all adventure activities in New Zealand necessarily include seeing the world from above, some of the best things the country has to offer are underground. Waitomo Caves are one of the most beautiful cave systems in New Zealand, and it is perfect, that they are partly accessible, and you can go inside to admire the underground labyrinth, stalactites, and stalagmites, the river sneaking through the caves (Waitomo in the Maori language literally means water passing through a hole), and when it is completely dark, you can see glowing glowworms, which is an incredible, almost magical sight.
Waitomo Caves are one of the most popular places in New Zealand, but most of the people you can see by the entrance wait for the classical walking tour inside the cave system.
The true adrenaline junkies are here for the ultimate caving experience.
What can you expect inside the cave? First, you will get the equipment and the instructor will show you how to use it, and then for the next five hours, you will dive inside the cave where you will abseil into Ruakuri Cave, climb under waterfalls or float through a gallery of illuminating glowworms.
This tour is legendary, and it is one of the most exciting activities you can do in the area.
You will get out of the cave completely wet, but happy.
#5 Skydive TAUPO - Tandem Jump from 15 000 feet
The real thrill-seekers must try another New Zealand's signature adrenaline activity, skydiving. If bungee jumping from 40+ meters is not enough for you, throwing yourself from an airplane in 15 000 feet (or 4572 meters if you will) should do the work.
Skydiving is usually popular doing in beautiful places with lakes and mountains around (it is not too hard to find it in New Zealand though), and one of those places is Lake Taupo which is located in the middle of North Island - simply put, skydiving in Taupo is a well-known notion.
The most heart-attack-like feeling is when the plane takes off, and you know there is (almost) no way back.
Even if you do not have any experience, do not worry, as you will jump in tandem with an absolute professional, who is responsible for your safety. These crazy people usually do several jumps a day, so they know exactly what to do, so you can only feel your heart rate, and, well, jump. For 60 seconds you will experience free-fall, and once you will get used to the feeling and the parachute opens, you can finally absorb the beauty of seeing the world from above.
If you want, it is possible to get photos or video from this unique experience, you can always watch it later when doubting about yourself.
#6 WHITE WATER River Rafting - Grade 5
When traveling around New Zealand, you will soon find out, that there is no lack of water in the Lord of the Rings country.
New Zealand has plenty of rivers, lakes, geothermal pools, and most of the activities often revolve around water.
If you do not mind being wet and want to experience a true adventure, white water rafting on Kaituna River is exactly what you are looking for. Kaituna River Rafting near Rotorua is an ultimate experience as the fast-flowing river (grade 5) offers great fun.
The river is set in a beautiful Okere Falls Scenic Reserve, so when time allows, and you will be rafting the calmer sections, you can soak up the atmosphere and incredibly photogenic bush-lined gorge. There are several raftable rapids followed by slower sections, where you can take a break a bit, as this experience is also a serious workout.
One of the highlights of white water rafting on Kaituna River is awesome seven meters high Tutea Falls, which is the highest commercially rafted waterfall in the world.
#7 Zipline & Canopy
Generally, the city of Rotorua on the North Island except for being famous for an exceptional geothermal activity and geysers is the center of several heart-pumping adventure activities, and if you plan on doing more actions of this kind, you won't make a mistake when you base yourself here.
We usually love adventure activities which except for adrenaline include a bit of exploring and getting to know the country better.
One of those activities is nowadays extremely popular zipline and canopy tour. During the three-hour-long tour, you won't only fly high above New Zealand's native forest and enjoy breathtaking views, but you will also learn more about the forest, about the country's ecosystem, and you will see the forest from a different perspective.
The great thing about ziplining and canopy tours is that this activity is usually suitable for kids, so the whole family can enjoy an active day filled with adventure and laughter.
Ziplining and canopy tours are indeed known all around the world, but the main feature of this activity is that the forest is everywhere different, so you can see various plants, trees, ferns while swinging over.
#8 White Island Day Tour
When creating your New Zealand itinerary, you will for sure focus your attention on two main islands New Zealand consists of, South Island and North Island, but there are hundreds of smaller island around, some of them accessible, most of them inaccessible.
One of the most unique islands is Whakaari alias White Island located less than 50 kilometers from the east coast of New Zealand's North Island, in the Bay of Plenty.
Are you now wondering why we include the visit of an island on the list of the best adrenaline activities to do in New Zealand?
White Island is generally one large active volcano and the part of the island we can see is only a top of a much larger submarine mountain. Only standing on Whakaari island is an experience on own, when you imagine what is below you, and the non-stop fuming crater will make you very aware of the power of nature.
The White Island Day Tour will take you by boat to the island, where you will have a chance to walk around the inner crater of an active volcano and see up close roaring steam vents or bubbling pits of mud.
For sure you will detect the unmistakable smell of sulphur which was mined here until 1914 when lahar killed all the workers on site - this can give you an idea how dangerous the volcano still is.
#9 Jet Boat Experience
One of the most quintessential and massively popular adventure activities in New Zealand is jetboating.
It is one of those activities which require only a bit of adventurous soul and enthusiasm, everything else will be provided by your fearless driver.
The most famous river for the true jet boat experience is Shotover River near Queenstown, where you will get the most typical jet boat ride full of breathtaking dramatic scenery.
The boat goes really fast, and you only have to trust your driver that he will safely navigate the jet boat through a narrow gorge, beautiful rocky canyons while making several 360 degrees turns, spins and twists. Before signing up for this adventure, you should take a motion-sickness pill in case you are prone to be sick.
This activity is suitable for everyone, kids must be at least 100 centimeters high, and remember you cannot hold your normal camera here not only for your safety but also for the safety of your equipment, check our recommendations on what to pack for the adventure activities at the bottom of this post.
#10 Cruise & Helicopter Glacier Landing in Fiordland National Park
Fiordland National Park is one of the most famous national parks in New Zealand known for out of this world fiords, and some of New Zealand's most beautiful hikes (they are not called Great Walks by accident), Milford Track, Kepler Track, and Routeburn Track.
It rains quite a lot in this part of New Zealand, but you don't have to worry that weather would ruin your vacation completely, as the wet conditions make this destination even better, and during the rain Milford Sound shows its real grandeur, as the water is running down the walls of the fjord, and it is an exceptional sight.
If you do not know how to spice up your time in New Zealand, want to see the best Fiordland has to offer, hiking is not your thing or you don't have enough time to spend three or four days on the trail, we found the ultimate adventure for you.
Milford Sound Fiord Cruise & Helicopter Glacier Landing is a hard to beat experience, and it will possibly be the highlight of your New Zealand trip. You will enjoy a scenic helicopter flight so you can see the famous Milford Sound from above then you will join and unforgettable fjord cruise and land on the glacier in the heart of the national park.
Only on the paper, it seems that there is way too much beauty anyone of us can take in only in a couple of hours, but this is the true New Zealand, a place where you can combine adrenaline activities with world's best scenery.
#11 Alpine Heliski Adventure
We know that outdoor enthusiasts and sports lovers are attracted by New Zealand more than regular travelers who prefer sightseeing over spending time in the great outdoors.
When it comes to the adrenaline adventures, we have one more ace in the sleeve, and this activity is called alpine heliski adventure. New Zealand has many mountains, and South Island is famous for great skiing conditions.
To spice up the regular day in a ski resort, why not to try heliskiing?
The helicopter will take you to terrain without crowds, where it is only you, fresh powder and amazing views. There is only one problem though.
After skiing or snowboarding the untouched slopes, you might never want to ski anywhere else anymore.
WHAT TO PACK FOR ADVENTURE ACTIVITIES IN NEW ZEALAND
We believe that when you plan on doing several adrenaline activities in New Zealand, you would like to capture your memories and take either photos or videos to remember those special times forever.
It is necessary to pack waterproof and durable things to ensure your valuables and electronics will be safe.
We've handpicked three must-have items so you can enjoy the adrenaline activities without thinking of anything else.
Waterproof Dry Bag | Our must-have item number one is waterproof dry bag. Take it with you for all your water activities to protect your valuables.
Dry Sack | We are probably overly careful when it comes to our electronics, but we always use dry sacks as an additional layer in the waterproof bag just in case.
GoPro | To take photos during activities mentioned above, we recommend you having a proper adventure camera. Some companies often allow to hold only this camera, and other equipment is strictly forbidden.
Have we inspired you to travel to New Zealand, to try all the adrenaline activities and visit all of the unique and must-see places in the country?
Here you can find links to all the services you might find useful when planning your big trip.
We've written a full post on What to Pack for New Zealand to help you sort out what to pack and what to leave behind.
When looking for flight tickets you can search Skyscanner to find the best price.
New Zealand is best to be explored by a rental car.
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