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5 Epic Adventures in New Zealand

Throughout my twenties, I heard so many positive things about New Zealand that I was excited to schedule it as the second stop on my trip around the world.

There were so many adventurous activities available along the route I took through the North and South Islands that I had to pick and choose.

Here are five of my adventures in New Zealand from a month of traveling across both islands.

New Zealand Adventures

1. Heli-Hiking Franz Josef Glacier

Franz Josef Glacier helipad. Heli-hiking is one of the top adventures in New Zealand.
Franz Josef Glacier helipad

As if walking around on my first glacier wasn't cool enough, I threw my first helicopter ride into the mix. And I had the front seat on the way up and back down, which was awesome.  

Both the helicopter and the glacier. Walking around on crampons isn't easy, and at least one person in my group took a slide down an ice cave, but it was well worth the cost.

Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier nearby account for two of the world's three sub-tropical glaciers. The low elevation explains why you see all the green foliage in the photo above.

Check out my original post about heli-hiking Franz Josef Glacier for more photos.

2. Canyoning

Abseiling down a waterfall
Abseiling aside a waterfall

Canyoning is an activity I've wanted to try since I first read about it in a Lonely Planet Costa Rica guide. When I saw trips run from Auckland, where I first arrived in the country, I immediately booked a spot.

Our guide was a pretty Chilean woman, and after suiting up in thick wetsuits and helmets, we spent 5 hours sliding down rock chutes, jumping off cliffs, and abseiling over waterfalls. It was unbelievable.

For more, check out Canyoning – Abseils, Jumps and Chutes.

3. Tramping the Tongariro Crossing

Hiking the Tongariro Crossing is one of the best adventures in New Zealand.
We are approaching The Devil's Staircase section of the Tongariro Crossing. Mt Doom is to the right.

Tramping in New Zealand (or hiking, as the rest of us call the activity) is hugely popular due to the varying geography and beautiful scenery.

I didn't schedule any multi-day hikes, but I did make time to tramp the Tongariro Crossing, a ridge between two volcanoes on the North Island (one of those being the infamous Mt. Doom from Lord of the Rings).

The weather was cloudy and visibility low; however, it was a fun physical challenge and my first serious hike.

Renting a car in New Zealand is the perfect way to explore the country's stunning landscapes and hiking trails.

Whether you're looking to go hiking or venture into remote wilderness, renting a car will provide you the freedom to go wherever you want, whenever you want. Look into hiring a car with Enterprise Car Rentals here.

4. Racing Go-Karts

Go Kart racing above Queenstown
Go Kart racing above Queenstown

Racing go-karts in the mountains above Queenstown may not be as death-defying an activity as you can find, but it's entertaining, and the views are breathtaking.

If the weather is decent, you can watch paragliders drifting around.

I had the pleasure of racing my bus driver, but he kicked my butt as I imagine he's been racing those go-karts for years.

I celebrated Christmas in Queenstown, and though I didn't write much about it, you can read a few of my thoughts from the city in Scenic Views of Queenstown.

5. Queenstown Canyon Swing

Sure, I'll jump off a 360-foot (109-meter) platform into the abyss of Shotover Canyon…twice!  

So watch the video above, and hear me scream like a girl. If massive swings aren't your style, plenty of bungy jumping options and tandem skydives are on offer.

Read Fear Factor: Riding the World's Highest Swing to see videos of both my jumps.

As I said at the top, New Zealand is a unique, beautiful, kick-ass kind of country, and I feel lucky to have had so many adventures there.

Planning a trip? Go Backpacking recommends:


Tuesday 4th of October 2011

Absolutely love your idea on go carts, repelling and hiking. How far is Tongariro Crossing from Rotorua? Do you recommend traveling by train?


Tuesday 4th of October 2011

I don't recall off hand, but the North Island is so small it probably isn't more than a few hours driving or by bus. I didn't travel by train in New Zealand, so I can only speak for the hop on/hop off "backpacker" buses which were fun and easy.

Luxurious,Affordable hotels

Tuesday 3rd of May 2011

im just disparately waiting for my vacations , coz now i cant wait to go to New Zealand, 1 of my friend and his wife have been there and thir experience according to them was unforgettable

Dallas Cook

Thursday 14th of April 2011

Man my palms started sweating watching/anticipating the swing jump. I can just imagine how you felt. Looks like one hell of a time!


Thursday 14th of April 2011

One of the scariest moments of my life....which is why I don't intend to do it again!

Sofia - As We Travel

Saturday 26th of March 2011

New Zealand really is the adventure capital of the world, especially Queenstown and Glenorchy, and the scenery isn't too bad either ;)


Saturday 26th of March 2011

Yep, and the Kiwi businesses are excellent at extracting money from tourist wallets. But I gotta say everything was worth it, except maybe the jetboat ride I did in Queenstown. It wasn't as much of an adrenaline rush as I'd built it up to be in my mind (for the past 20 years).

Lindsay Hogg

Monday 21st of March 2011

New Zealand is so awesome. Everywhere you turned there was something amazing to do. I wish I could go back and do a lot of things I missed out on. I headed there at the end of my trip and was pretty broke by then. Def head back there one day in the future.

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