New Zealand Adventure Travel

Hiking, Bungee, Jet Boats and More

New Zealand adventure travel is almost a rite of passage for many young Europeans, Americans and Canadians who visit the country in search of excitement. Indeed, New Zealand is known for being the country that came up with bungee jumping, and there have been plenty of innovations since then.

While adventure tourism activities are available all around the country, Queenstown is definitely the crown jewel when it comes to doing crazy things.

Adventure Tours

Karangahake Historic Walkway, New Zealand - Photographer: Chris McLennan

If you like, you can join a tour group designed specifically for adventure seekers, which will include activities all over the country.

Otherwise you can simply seek out some of these adventure activities on your own, perhaps by backpacking in New Zealand?

Think of it this way: if you’re worried you’ll chicken out on trying an activity that you really want to do, book it and pay for it in advance. But if you’re confident that you won’t back down, a bungee jump is often best done on the spur of the moment.

Bungee Jumping

This extreme sport was invented by New Zealand adventure tourism mogul A.J. Hackett (who since then has gone on to perform such stunts as bungee jumping off the Auckland Sky Tower - an activity which now opens to tourists).

While Queenstown is the place many travellers go to do this, there is lots of little bungee jumping operations set up on bridges all over the country.

Sky Diving

Free falling from a plane is considered by many New Zealand adventure travel seekers to be the ultimate rush. Even if you’ve never done it before, you can do a tandem jump with an experienced skydiving instructor to ensure the highest level of safety.

White Water Rafting and Jet Boating

The Shotover River and Kawarau River near Queenstown are both ideal for adventure tourism, and they’re used extensively for that purpose.

Jet boating is a quick thrill, especially if you love impressive engines.

White water rafting takes a little more effort and fearlessness.

Horse Treks

Horse trekking is a great way to experience the New Zealand landscape from a “rugged explorer” kind of perspective. What’s more, horse riding allows you to get away from the roads and highways, so you can experience the true heartland of New Zealand that few visitors ever see.

This is definitely a unique New Zealand adventure travel experience.

Sea Kayaking

Sea kayaking can be a relaxing experience, but there’s definitely an edge of adventure to it - even with the shore well in sight, you get a rush from being in such a small vessel on such a big ocean.

New Zealand Hiking and Tramping

So maybe you’re afraid of heights - no problem. There are other less strenuous New Zealand adventure travel options. Many tourists visit to see the raw natural beauty of the country, but few are actually willing to get in amongst it.

Our camper van on a site near Moeraki Boulders November 2008

There are plenty of hiking and tramping paths around the country, some of which take under an hour, some of which take several days like many of the "Great Walks". If you’re planning to head into the bush, make sure you inform plenty of people and prepare yourself well. If you’re not experienced, hire a guide.

The nine most famous of the walks are maintained by the Department of Conservation (DOC). These are for enthusiastic trampers with maintained huts and camp sites along the way to stay overnight with facilities that are better than the basic huts on a lot of the walks. ('Tramping' is the Kiwi word for trekking, bush walking, or hiking.

Adventure and Outdoor Safety

There is an Outdoor Safety Code and it is recommended reading before going in the wide outdoors!