New Zealand

Best New Zealand Activities for Thrill-Seekers

So you’re an adrenaline junkie. Don’t worry — so am I! New Zealand is one of the best places in the world for us, would you agree?

Having visited many times and for the thrills and spills I wanted to give you a definitive list of the must-do extreme activities you must do when in New Zealand.

From sky diving, to bungee jumping, jet-boat riding to canyon swinging, there’s something in my list for whatever your adrenaline fix needs!  So without delay here’s my Best New Zealand Activities for Thrill-Seekers. I know you’ll love it!

Northland

If you take a bus tour up to Cape Reinga and 90 Mile Beach in the Northland region (which I recommend), you’ll most likely also stop along the way at the Te Paki Sand Dunes, which mark the beginning (or end, depending which way you’re traveling) of 90 Mile Beach. There, you can break out your boogie board or toboggan (provided by the tour company, in most cases), climb up one of the gigantic dunes (some can reach 100 meters), and then surf your way down. The hike up the dunes is tough, and the ride down scary, yet exhilarating.

Price: Included in most coach tours

Adrenaline rating: 3 ½

Auckland

Auckland isn’t necessarily known for its adventure sports, but if you’re visiting the famous Sky Tower in Sky City, why not jump off it? Sky Jump is a unique cable-supported base jump right off the edge of the Sky Tower. After being fitted into a flying suit and full-body harness, you get to toss yourself off the side of the tower. You’ll fall fast (but experience no freefall because there will always be tension in the cable), and then come to a smooth landing 192 meters (about 630 feet) below on the landing platform.

Price: $195 NZD

Adrenaline rating: 5, because you have to jump

Waitomo Caves

I haven’t been to the Waitomo Caves (located about 2 hours south from Auckland), so I can’t speak to how adrenaline-inducing any of the activities there are. But I do know you can do things like caving/abseiling, and black water rafting (think mild white water rafting, but on innertubes in the dark). Both of these sound like they’d get your blood pumping.

Rotorua

If you’re visiting Rotorua check out Rotorua Motels – Jasons has a variety of accommodation online, suiting all budgets. Along with being sure to visit at least one of the geothermal parks, set aside some time to try out a few unique adventure activities.

The first is Zorbing, in which you dive into what looks like a gigantic hamster ball (but really is a small inflatable ball suspended within a larger one), and then roll down a large hill. This can be done in various ways: Zydro, where water is put into the ball with you so you slip around, or Zorbit, where you are strapped into the ball so you go tumbling head over heels. You can do these with more than one person, which makes it extra fun.

Price: Starts at $49 per person per ride, goes down if you have more than one person in a globe.

Adrenaline rating: 2

Also check out Agroventures while in Rotorua. Located just down the road from the Zorb site, Agroventures is located on the same property as the Agrodome, where you can go and view various sheep-shearing shows. There are some things probably not worth doing at Agroventures (for example, I’d save the jetboating and bungy jumping for elsewhere), but at least one or two of the activities might be worth trying out. Here’s what they offer:

Agrojet: Jetboating very fast in a man-made pond. ($45 NZD per person; 2 people per boat)

Rotorua Bungee: 43 meters (143 feet). ($90 NZD per person)

Freefall Xtreme: Kind of like simulated sky diving, where you “fly” by floating over a giant fan. ($49 NZD per person)

Shweeb: You get into a pod-looking thing suspended from a track. You then pedal your Shweeb like a bike, and race others at fast speeds. ($80 NZD per person)

I recommend the Swoop swing here. You climb into what looks like a body bag with one or two others, and then are raised 40 meters into the air. One of you then has to pull the ripcord, and you go screaming head-first in a big arc, reaching speeds up to 130 kph. ($45 NZD per person; 1-3 people)

Note: You can package multiple activities and get reduced prices.

Adrenaline rating: I’ve only done the Swoop, which I give a 5. Pulling that ripcord is more terrifying than you may think!

Taupo

Upon first arriving in the lakeside city of Taupo, it may not seem like a mecca for adventure sports. But don’t be fooled: Taupo has a lot to offer. You can jetboat down the Waikato River or take a floatplane flight over Lake Taupo. There’s also skydiving and helicopter rides.

But I’d recommend bungy jumping at Taupo Bungy. Jutting out from a cliff above the Waikato River, Taupo Bungy offers New Zealand’s highest water-touch jump, at 43 meters (tied with the water-touch in Queenstown). You can do this jump tandem, as well. And, of all the bungy jumps in New Zealand in scenic locations, you’ll get the best value in Taupo. They also offer a swing now, too, called the Taupo Cliffhanger. This did not exist when I was there, though, so I can’t give any insight on it.

Price: $109 NZD per person for a solo bungy jump

Adrenaline rating: 5

Gravity Canyon

Mokai Gravity Canyon is located about 20 minutes from Taihape on the North Island. The Canyon is just that – a deep canyon with the Rangitikei River running through it. There are 3 adventure sports to try out at Gravity Canyon: Bungy jumping, a flying fox, and a bridge swing. And all are adrenaline-inducing in a stunning environment.

The bungy jump is 80 meters high from the Mokai Bridge – the highest bungy on the North Island. The Flying Fox is a gigantic zip line that you traverse head-first while being suspended high above the river, reaching speeds of 160 kph. The Bridge Swing is what it sounds like – you swing from the Mokai Bridge in a gigantic arc, which includes 50 meters of freefall. All can be done tandem.

Price: One activity, $120 NZD per person; two activities, $195 NZD per person; all three, $270 NZD per person.

Adrenaline rating: Bungy, 5; Flying Fox, 3 ½ , Swing I have not done, but I’d wager a 4

Dunedin

If you’re making a stop in Dunedin on New Zealand’s South Island, I can personally recommend surfing at St. Clair Beach with the Esplanade Surf School. Operated out of a van near the beach, you can book a surf lesson (ahead of time), or simply rent a surf board if you already know what you’re doing. I took a two-hour lesson and actually stood up on my board! It’s a great place for beginners.

Price: I paid $45 NZD for the two-hour lesson, board and wetsuit rental

Adrenaline rating: 2 ½

Queenstown

Queenstown is known as New Zealand’s Adventure Capital – and for good reason. If you’re an adrenaline junkie like me, then Queenstown needs to be on your itinerary. There are tons of activities year-round to give you a rush. I’ll highlight some of the most popular ones.

Things I personally recommend:

There are an abundance of bungy jumping options in Queenstown, most operated by A.J. Hackett (including the terrifying Nevis Bungy). I had my first bungy experience at the Kawarau Bridge Bungy, where A.J. Hackett started it all. The 43-meter jump is a baby compared to some of the others in Queenstown, but the price is decent, there are lots of jump options, and you can even choose to touch or be fully immersed in the Kawarau River.

Price: $175 NZD per person

Adrenaline rating: 5

If you want to go jetboating, try the Shotover Jet. Again, there are other options in Queenstown, but the Shotover is perhaps the best. You’ll get geared up and climb into a famous “Big Red” jetboat. Then you’ll go tearing down the Shotover River, sweeping through the winding Shotover River Canyon at breakneck speeds, all while skimming along the top of the water. The Shotover Jet is the only jetboat operator permitted to operate in this canyon, and the drivers are all experts. Watch out for the 360-degree turns in between the canyon walls.

Price: $109 NZD per person

Adrenaline rating: 3

Head down to Lake Wakatipu for some parasailing with Paraflights. You’ll be lifted high above the lake in a yellow smiley-face parachute, giving you fantastic views of Queenstown and the surrounding Remarkables mountains. You can do it solo, or with a friend.

Price: $129 NZD solo; $95 NZD per person tandem

Adrenaline rating: 2

While in Queenstown, take a ride up the Skyline Gondola. At the top, be sure to sign up for a luge adventure. While it doesn’t compare to the dangerous Olympic sport of luging, Skyline’s version is still fun – and affordable. You get into a luge cart that’s on wheels, and race your way down one of two winding downhill tracks. Both have fantastic views of Queenstown. Then take the chairlift up to do it again.

Price: You must buy a ticket for the gondola in order to also luge. Gondola + 1 luge ride, $30 NZD. Each additional luge ride is $5 NZD.

Adrenaline rating: 1-2 ½ depending on how fast you go

Things that sound exciting but I didn’t get to try:

Try the Shotover Canyon Swing, which sounds pretty crazy. You launch from 109 meters above the Shotover River, and there are 10 different jump styles.

Price: $199 NZD per person

You can also try whitewater rafting, or river surfing down the Kawarau River. A friend of mine tried river surfing, where you basically tackle whitewater rapids on a boogie board. She both loved and hated it. She recommends you not try it unless you’re in shape and up for taking some risks.

Also in Queenstown:

Take helicopter rides up into the mountains, go skiing or snowboarding at popular resorts during the winter months, or try tandem skydiving. Skydiving is popular all over New Zealand, but I’d imagine Queenstown would be one of the more scenic locations to do it. The Bay of Islands is also supposed to be great for skydiving. It’s definitely on my “next time” list.

If you want to try it all, check into Queenstown Combos, which will package various Queenstown activities together and arrange all your transportation. Or visit The Station in downtown Queenstown, where you can get advice and book most of the city’s most popular adventure sports.

That wraps this list up. Did I forget anything?

Which of these sound the most exciting or terrifying to you? If you’re a self-professed adrenaline junkie, are there any activities in New Zealand you just wouldn’t try?

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