New Zealand is a thrill seeker’s dream destination, with endless opportunities for rampant adventure. With everything from rushing waterfalls to towering mountains and snowy glaciers to rivers carving through forests, there is no question that this country in the southeastern Pacific Ocean should be at the top of your travel bucket list. The islands (there are around 600 of them in New Zealand!) are known as Aotearoa to the indigenous Maori, which stands for "land of the long white cloud" and are a mystical wonderland of terrain that will push your boundaries for new adventures in ways that you never thought possible.
Here are a few of the best ways to explore New Zealand.
Based off of the death-defying vine jumping rituals of the Vanuatu natives on the small South Pacific island of Pentecost, the modern day concept of bungee jumping came to form in England in the late 1970s. However, it was a New Zealander named A.J. Hackett who stretched the boundaries of what was possible in the jumping world and introduced the activity to the commercial world in the early 1980s.
Today in New Zealand, you can bungee off of nearly anything—from bridges to suspended platforms to even the Sky Tower in downtown Auckland. This thrill-infused act of passage isn’t for the faint of heart, for when you are standing 134 meters (440 feet) above ground ready to free fall at speeds of 128 km/h (80 mph), you will quickly find your heart in your throat.
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Want a bird’s-eye view of the New Zealand landscape? Then skydiving is your ticket. The options are endless and the epic scenery of the country makes it one of the best places in the world to do it. You’ll find plenty of opportunities up and down the coast to jump into the friendly open skies from an altitude of up to 5,800 meters (19,000 feet). While skydiving is one of the most adrenaline-packed activities to enjoy in NZ, the views will be worth it and will leave you begging for more!
If you’re looking to get away from summer in the Northern Hemisphere, head for the mountains in the Southern Hemisphere between June and August. New Zealand offers a wide variety of world-class ski hills that offer an adventure for every skill level. The Southern Alps in the South Island are a popular spot, and you can even ski an active volcano (Mt. Ruapehu) on the North Island. Don’t forget about The Remarkables or the sparkling steeps of Aoraki/Mount Cook, which stands as the country’s largest peak at 3,724 meters (12,218 feet).
Step out a little further off the beaten path and you’ll find endless backcountry skiing and splitboarding opportunities as well as heli-skiing spread amongst the different peaks.
Not much gets your heart pumping like maneuvering through fast-flowing water where every bend, drop, and stretch of whitewater unleashes an unpredictable force, and thanks to its mountainous terrain, New Zealand has plenty of it. From beginner class I rivers to technical and brazen class V’s that will send tingles down your spine, you will discover all sorts of highlights white water rafting in NZ.
Extreme favorites like Rangitata Gorge, the Shotover River, and the Wairoa send you through deep gorges as you plunge your way through extreme rapids and curling waves, hooting and hollering all the way to the finish. Give the whitewater here a chance and you won’t regret it.
Ever wonder what it would be like to raft through underground caverns and tunnels? If you thought such a subterranean experience couldn’t be an option—think again and book a trip to the North Island’s Waitomo Caves. Rafting into the unknown labyrinthine of the natural-flowing river in the Ruakuri Cave will take you into the depths of a magical and mysterious experience. Navigate your way through the limestone network of caves composed of stalagmites, stalactites, and ceilings dotted with glowworms.
At the northern edge of the South Island, Abel Tasman National Park produces some of the most spectacular sights in all of New Zealand, including golden beaches, lush green flora, and crystal blue waters. It is also home to some of the best hang gliding around. Taking to the skies like a soaring bird with just yourself, a guide, and a large-winged rig will leave you breathless and filled with excitement as you navigate the thermal winds.
With options for every season and style of thrill seeking, it might come as a surprise that New Zealand really does have something for every adrenaline junkie. The ever-encompassing beauty here will lead you down wild and untamed paths to adventures of every type and the rush of adrenaline will stick with you for a lifetime to come.
Written by RootsRated for Craghoppers.
Featured image provided by Pablo Heimplatz