This is a country where you can surf the waves and trek a glacier, fall from the sky and go caving, all in one day. Everywhere you look, there is an adventure to be had
North and South islands
That picture postcard idea of camping by a lake in the woods is very much a reality in New Zealand. The country’s many national parks host hundreds of campsites. You can simply trek up with a sleeping bag and supplies and find yourself a good spot. Or, if you’re a first-timer, check in at one of the many holiday parks, where authorities ensure a safe and comfortable stay, without taking away from the charm of the outdoors. At these parks, you can hire campervans, tents and other camping equipment. Most recommended if you are with children.
Abel Tasman National Park, Tasman District, South Island
An ultra-light plane tows you and the hang-glider up 1,000 metres, and then releases you into the crisp, golden air above a gorgeous national park. Your hang-glider expert will then let you take the controls for an exhilarating ride over the Kiwi landscape that unfurls like a magic carpet below you. You can opt for a 15- or 30-minute trip, or get truly adventurous and take the Grand Tour that goes for NZD 300/hr, where you get to chart your route.
Franz Josef Glacier, Westland Tai Poutini National Park, South Island
From afar, a glacier is a beautiful bed of white. But only by walking over one will you experience its true beauty. Take a chopper-ride onto the glacier, and let your guide take you for the most wondrous three- hour walk over a surreal, neon surface that sparkles with every shade of blue. Trek past stunning ice- formations that tower like skyscrapers as you inhale the pristine air of the Southern Alps. No two sights are ever the same here, so keep your camera handy.
Queenstown, South Island
This is one of the first bungee-jump locations ever, and even today, the Kuwarau Bridge is regarded as a formidable adventure. You have a choice of a solo jump or with a loved one; whichever you choose, no activity comes even close in providing so much in so little time. Whether you plunge 47 metres into the Kuwarau River or go for the 134 m terror at Nevis will depend entirely on your nerves. First-timers or repeaters, this is a pilgrimage to the dawn of the bungee-sport.
Kaituna River, Bay of Plenty, North Island
All adventure in NZ seems to take it up a notch, and white-water is no exception. Get ready for a seven metre drop over a waterfall within the first half hour, safe for novices and the experienced alike, and then it only gets better. Some sections of the river are classed as Grade 5 rapids, but the level of expertise of the operators guarantees safety. Apart from the 13 head-reeling drops, the surrounding scenery of the exquisite rainforest makes for a delightful experience.
Fox Glacier, Westland Tai Poutini National Park, South Island
The no. 1 sky diving spot is apparently near Mt. Everest, which costs a bomb and has a six-year waitlist. Why not go for second best, at a fraction of the cost, and with an overnight booking? With an exquisite canvas of Mt. Tasman, Mt. Cook and Fox Glacier arranged below you, you could not wish for a better spot to tumble out of a plane 3.5 km above the earth. Carry your own camera; as you drift to the ground under a parachute, you will get the best aerial shots ever.
King Country, North Island
These caves are two million years old, and form the perfect setting for an adrenaline rush. Navigate this subterranean maze by abseiling down and climbing craggy rock walls. A most beautiful sight awaits you at the bottom: a million glow-worms light up the ceiling, resembling a brilliant star-spangled night. In addition, ancient stalactites and stalagmites and a magnificent gargantuan underground cathedral will leave you breathless in awe.
Kaikoura, East Coast, South Island
Man’s relationship with these marvellous creatures is the stuff of legend. This is your opportunity to get the closest you ever will to these intelligent, friendly and frolicsome mammals. All you need to be is confident of swimming in open waters, and a buoyancy suit will do the rest. This is no mere sighting of two or three dolphins jumping through water; you will encounter hundreds of them swimming circles around you, inviting you to play with them.
Rotorua, Bay of Plenty, North Island
This is a ball within a ball, separated from each other by cushion of air, with you inside the inner ball, hurtling down a gentle hill at 50 km/hr. You have a choice of a wet ride, the Zydro (a few litres of water for company), or a dry one, the Zorbit; either way, it is a unique experience, and safe for old and young alike. Watch the gorgeous landscape of NZ whiz past you as you tumble down in this topsy-turvy rollercoaster.
Huka Falls, Wairakei Tourist Park, Taupo, North Island
This is a half-hour thrill-ride with head-spinning g-forces over the Shotover River rapids, all the way to the immense, thundering wall of the Huka Falls. The scenery around whizzes past in a kaleidoscopic swirl of rock-face, lush greenery and hot springs as you do 360 spins on the playful rapids. When you get to the Huka Falls, you will agree that a better view of this cascading, crashing mass of water could not be had from anywhere else.