This post is my contribution to the #blog4nz campaign happening March 21 – 23, 2011.
Throughout my 20's, I'd heard so many positive reports about travel in New Zealand, I was excited to schedule it as the second stop on my trip around the world. There were so many fun and adventurous activities on offer along the route I took through the North and South Islands, I was forced to pick and choose.
Here are 5 of my epic adventures in New Zealand from a month of traveling across both islands.
Heli-Hiking Franz Josef Glacier
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. It 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, along with 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.
For more photos, check out my original post about heli-hiking Franz Josef Glacier.
Canyoning is an activity I'd wanted to try since I first read about it in a Lonely Planet Costa Rica guide. When I saw trips ran 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 proceeded to spend 5 hours sliding down rock chutes, jumping off cliffs, and abseiling over waterfalls. It was crazy.
For more, check out Canyoning – Abseils, Jumps and Chutes.
Tramping the Tongariro Crossing
Tramping in New Zealand (or hiking as the rest of us call the activity) is hugely popular on account of the varying geography, and beautiful scenery throughout the country. I didn't schedule any multi-day hikes, but I did make time to tramp the Tongariro Crossing, which is a ridge between two volcanoes on the North Island (with one of those volcanoes being the infamous Mt. Doom from Lord of the Rings).
The weather was cloudy, and visibility was low most of the way, however it was a fun physical challenge, and my first serious hike.
Read more in my original post, Tramping the Tongariro Crossing.
Racing go karts in the mountains above Queenstown may not be as death-defying an activity as you can find, but it's insanely fun and the views are breathtaking. If the weather is decent, you'll be able to 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 2007 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.
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, there are plenty of bungy jumping options, as well as tandem skydives on offer.
To see videos of both my jumps, read Fear Factor: Riding the World's Highest Swing.
As I said at the top, New Zealand is an amazing, beautiful, kick-ass kinda country and I feel lucky to have had so much time there.