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Adrenaline Activities in New Zealand

Tourism NZ

What kind of adrenaline activities are there 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 adrenaline activities to take part in while on your backpacking adventure.

In New Zealand, we take advantage of the sky, mountains, rivers and ocean when it comes to adventure activities. Want to experience a pants-staining freefall from a bungy or a skydive? Or maybe you want to compete with the elements in white water rafting, underground tubing or snowboarding? Whatever you decide, we’ll guide you to some of the best adrenaline experiences in New Zealand.

Adrenaline activity categories

What kind of adrenaline 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

Bungy Jumping

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 today. Since 1988, bungy jumping has warped into more exhilarating options such as the Nevis Bungy – the third-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.

Giant swings

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 Taupo, Rotorua 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 15,000ft? 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. Skydive Franz Josef offers the highest tandem skydive at 19,000ft, whereas Skydive Taupo offers value for money.

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

Tourism NZ

Adrenaline Water Activities

White Water Rafting

Fast-flowing rapids down a number of rivers make 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. Whatever you chose, the guides in New Zealand know the rivers like the back of their hands and are fully qualified to take you into these dangerous environments and keep you safe. Just remember, white water rafting is a team sport!

For a complete list of white water rafting rivers, check out 7 Places to go White Water Rafting in New Zealand.

Jet Boating

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, but really, they are the most common water adrenaline activity in the country. 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 ‘gnarly’ waves to surf. The most famous surf beach in Raglan but serious adrenaline junkies should try Piha in Auckland. Other places are mentioned in our lists for surfing in the North Island and surfing in the South Island or get a complete guide at The Best Surf Regions in New Zealand.


The most unusual water activity you can do in New Zealand is the black water rafting or “tubing” in the Waitomo caves or in Westport on the West Coast. Abseiling 37m underground 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.

Martyn Williams - Tourism NZ

Adrenaline Mountain Activities

Skiing and Snowboarding

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.

Mountain biking

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. Just head to our Mountain Biking page for mountain biking guides to each New Zealand region.

Ziplining/Flying fox

If you are still reading about mountain activities, then you clearly like activities that are high up? If this is the case, try a zipline tour. 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 or through pine forests in Tauranga and Wellington.

Best of the Rest

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

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

Get more ideas in 9 Newest and Weirdest Extreme Activities in New Zealand.

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