Adventure Travel in New Zealand: Adrenaline rushes, Kiwi-style
Kiwis love outdoor adventure, and with good reason. New Zealand’s islands contain a treasure trove of natural attractions. Try brilliant underwater marine sanctuaries, lavender mountain peaks, lush native forests and golden beaches. And that's just for starters. Stretch the legs on an easy tramp along the Abel Tasman Coastal Track. Ride a hair-raising mountain bike circuit in Rotorua or really push your limits in a free fall from Auckland’s Sky Tower. For adventure lovers in New Zealand, the sky really is the limit.
Tramping and climbing in New Zealand
Grab your walking poles and make for the mother of all trails, the Milford Track. The spectacular 53km route twists and climbs through glacier-gouged valleys and moss-draped forests in Fiordland National Park, en route to Milford Sound.
Further north, trampers might share views of splashing orcas and waddling blue penguins along the golden, picture-postcard beaches of the Abel Tasman Coastal Track. On Stewart Island, hike Rakiura Track for a medley of beach and dense native bush. You might even spot a kiwi (the feathered variety).
Climbers everywhere are drawn to the alpine challenges of Mount Aspiring and Aoraki/Mount Cook in the towering Southern Alps. In the North Island rocky buttresses and volcanic peaks lure the karabiner-rattling set to Egmont and Tongariro National Parks. Waikato’s craggy limestone pinnacles reward climbers with views of the lush green farmland (though that’s probably not why they climb them).
Diving and kayaking in New Zealand
Zip up your wetsuit and dive beneath the surface to explore colourful undersea life at Goat Island Marine Reserve. Scan the ocean floor for sleek eagle rays hiding under the sand and swim alongside stripy red moki fish. Plunge beneath the waves at Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve for views of natural caves and undersea tunnels teeming with timid yellow eels, graceful octopuses and vibrant coral flowers.
Or stay dry(ish) in a kayak. Paddle your way along the golden shore of New Zealand’s smallest national park, Abel Tasman.Poke into hidden coves for shy seals or soak up the sunshine in a turquoise bay.
Sheer cliff faces and snow-capped mountains form the backdrop for paddling tours in Fiordland National Park where, if you're lucky, playful dolphins might greet your bobbing kayak. If you're unlucky, they may capsize it. Cathedral Cove draws kayakers to picturesque Coromandel Peninsula to paddle among sheer sandstone rock formations and a massive arched sea cave.
Adrenaline sports in New Zealand
Kiwis love a good scare. Evidence of this can be found near Queenstown, where bungy jumpers leap 134m into the deep Kawarau River gorge. In Auckland, brave souls hurl themselves from the top of Sky Tower, the Southern Hemisphere’s tallest building. Join the madness – you’ll have plenty of admiring spectators cheering your descent from the rock-solid plaza below.
Or get even higher on a winter heli-ski adventure. On the frozen, 27km Tasman Glacier you’ll speed past sparkling icefalls and silver snow caves beneath New Zealand’s highest peaks. In summer, climb inside a giant plastic Zorbball and tumble down steep Rotorua slopes end-over-end. NB: don’t attempt this straight after breakfast.
Moss-covered boulders and twisted rimu roots form obstacle courses in mountain bike-crazy Rotorua, where clouds of geothermal steam compete with the trail for your attention. The 42 Traverse ranks as one of the North Island’s most popular mountain bike routes, defying riders to power through river crossings and up lichen-lined inclines for photo ops of Tongariro National Park’s shimmering volcanic peaks.