New Zealand: Class-A Adventure, Adrenaline and A Taste for the High Life

New Zealand: Class-A Adventure, Adrenaline and A Taste for the High Life

by CT4N Travel

New Zealand: Class-A Adventure, Adrenaline and A Taste for the High Life

Not everyone wants to dangle on a rubber stretchy or jump out of a perfectly good airplane, but it’s surprising what can happen.

The cliché has it that the Kiwi sense of adventure, pioneer roots and No. 8 wire ingenuity are largely responsible for some of the world’s most thrilling adrenaline-hyped tourism adventures.

At the forefront of those is the bungy, but we can also claim other clever thrill-seeking inventions from the jet boat and ski plane, to the Zorb, aka the Ogo. And, while Queenstown claims the “adventure capital of the world” title with justification), the good news is that some form of adrenaline adventure befitting any thrill level is pretty much guaranteed to be available in a spectacular landscape somewhere close to wherever you visit in New Zealand. 

It is 30 years since Kiwi adventurers AJ Hackett and Henry Van Asch launched their world-first commercial bungy operation 140 feet above a steep, rocky gorge, beside the Kawarau Bridge, near Queenstown. And today it is an icon, synonymous with adventure tourism, with a never-ending queue of willing participants. The original experience has morphed into multiple bungy operations in New Zealand and around the world. You can choose to jump off the Auckland Harbor Bridge or SkyTower (at 630 feet, reaching 52 mph, it’s the highest base jump by wire), or from a cliff above the Waikato River in Taupo, and a ledge above the lights of Queenstown. 

The AJ Hackett brand is also behind Queenstown’s latest adrenaline attraction. Launched a year ago, the world-first Nevis Catapult tosses its human cargo into the air to reach speeds of 62mph in 1.5 seconds, with 3Gs of force, 490 feet above the Nevis Valley. Not tempted? Try the classic Nevis bungy, a 440-foot drop with an 8-second free-fall. Fueling the adrenaline rush there’s the beauty of the glacial blue water far below and the mountains all-around. 

Then again, the views from above are something else when jumping out of a plane. Skydive Abel Tasman’s drop-zone at Motueka has views of both the North and South islands. Once you’ve left the plane at 9, 13 or 16,000ft, safely strapped to your experienced jump master, there’s nothing but air and scenery to get in the way - Abel Tasman, Golden Bay, the Alps, Marlborough Sounds, all the way to Taranaki. Find other spectacular skydiving destinations at Auckland, Queenstown, Wanaka and Franz Josef. 
Cables and wires have inspired other adrenaline-inducing adventures, from flying down through a forest on a zip line to abseiling into the underworld or climbing a sheer rock face inside a waterfall. Rotorua Canopy Tours’ guests travel the tree tops on walkways attached to the trees and on zip lines that let guests fly like the birds. Stepping off a platform into the void takes a bit of nerve but it’s also a beautiful way to experience the forest and the wildlife that this business is actively working to protect. Queenstown’s Ziptrek is another hair-raising zipper, with breath-taking lake and mountain panoramas as you fly through the air on the world’s steepest zip line, dropping 30 stories at up to 45 mph.

Photo credit: Dunedin NZ and Tourism New Zealand. 

For family thrills, Cable Bay Adventure Park near Nelson has the thoroughly terrifying Skywire. Hop on board, four-at-a-time, strap on the 5-point harness, and swoop down the world’s longest zip line, gravity-assisted free-wheeling, reaching speeds of up to 60 mph. 

Wildwire Wanaka’s waterfall climb conveniently comes in three thrill levels, climbing a via ferrata system of cables, rungs and bridges fixed to the rock. The highest 1475-foot climb, Lord of the Rungs, includes a 20-foot waterfall and a helicopter descent. No climbing experience? No worries, if you can climb a ladder you can do Wildwire, supported by trained guides and secured with safety equipment. 

Finally, if fast and furious appeals, then the Hamilton jet boat, Zorb aka Ogo and the Shweeb are three examples of Kiwi inventions that will take you for a spin. Jet boating tourism started 60 years ago in Queenstown and since then the iconic yellow KJets and Shotover big reds have thrilled millions of screaming passengers - celebrities, royals and commoners - with 360-spins through impossibly narrow rocky gorges. 

Or try Rotorua. OGO’s new Mega Track is the world’s longest, fastest, steepest giant-inflatable-ball-rolling course and nearby Velocity Valley features the monorail cycle Shweeb Racer and a choice of other fast action rides.  


All Photos and article courtesy of Tourism New Zealand.