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Adrenalin Activities in New Zealand


New Zealand is a country on steroids.

Everything done here is done big, from huge mountains to huge activities to get your heart racing. In the country that brought the world the bungy jump and jet boating, there are plenty of adrenalin activities to take part in while on your backpacking adventure.

What kind of adrenalin activities can you do in New Zealand?

A lot, that is the answer. So many, in fact, that we have divided the activities into:

  • When you free fall.
  • Activities in the water.
  • Activities in the mountains.
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Free falling Activities

Let’s start where it all began? Bungy jumping was introduced commercially at the Kawarau Bridge, Queenstown and is still a popular site for a sentimental bungy jump. Since 1988, bungy jumping has warped into more exhilarating options such as the Nevis Bungy – the 3rd highest jump in the world. In fact, there is no shortage of jumps in New Zealand because every other town has one.

Check out where you can bungy jump in New Zealand in our top list.

Similar to the bungy jump is the canyon swing. Many have debated whether this is more likely to stain your pants than a bungy. However, swinging across a 300m arc at 120kph is still not an activity for the faint hearted. There are options to do this in Taihepe, Taupo and Queenstown. Additionally, there are many crazy ways to be released into the abyss such as leaning off the back of a chair or off a slide.

If cliff edges are not high enough for you, how about jumping from 15000ft? Sky diving is a popular activity to do while backpacking in New Zealand firstly because of the views of the stunning New Zealand landscape, and secondly because there is no other feeling like free falling for 60 seconds. Abel Tasman Skydive offers the highest tandem skydive at 16500ft, whereas Taupo Skydive offers value for money.

See our list of 11 Places to Tandem Skydive in New Zealand.


Adrenalin Water Activities

Fast-flowing rapids down a number of rivers makes many areas in New Zealand ideal for white water rafting. Take a plunge down a 7m waterfall in Rotorua or enjoy a longer journey down the rapids at River Valley.

Alternatively, let the boat do the work for you in jet boating – another extreme activity invented in New Zealand. Encounter close calls with rock faces as you shoot down narrow river gorges. Popular places to jet boat are Queenstown and Taupo. There are plenty more jet boating options, which you can see on our list 7 Places to Jet Boat in NZ.

Away from the lakes of New Zealand and to the sea, New Zealand’s coast boasts some ‘knarley’ waves to surf. The most famous surf beach is Raglan but serious adrenalin junkies should try Piha. Other places are mentioned in our lists for surfing in the North Island and surfing in the South Island.

The most unusual water activity you can do in New Zealand is the black water rafting in the Waitomo caves. Abseiling 37m underground with The Black Water Rafting Co will take you to some underground rivers to float around in a rubber ring. You must climb up waterfalls and do flying foxes to navigate your way back out of the caves.


Adrenalin Mountain Activities

Hurtling down a mountain on snow is another way to find thrills in New Zealand. The Queenstown area combines snow sports with partying. The Canterbury region holds ski fields such as Mt Hutt, Fox Peak and Mt Dobson. You don’t even have to travel to the South Island with ski fields on Mt Ruapehu located on the North Island. Out guide to the NZ ski season will give you more information.

When the snow melts some mountains contain exciting trails for mountain bikers. Thrill seekers can head to Pan Pac Eskdale Mountain Bike Park in Hawke’s Bay or if you are looking to make your experience more epic, try a spot of heli-mountain biking in Coromandel or Queenstown.

If you are still reading about mountain activities, then you clearly like activities that are high up? If this is the case, try canopy zipline tours. Go on an eco-adventure tour through the trees in Rotorua or on top of Bob’s Peak in Queenstown. In complete contrast, you can do a zipline tour underground through the Waitomo caves.

Best of the Rest

Did we forget to mention there are all these extreme activities you can do too:

  • River surfing
  • Abseiling
  • Flying foxes
  • Paragliding
  • Quad biking
  • SkyWalk the Sky Tower in Auckland
  • Canyoning
  • Zorbing
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