Adventure tourism is an ever-expanding industry, and today roughly 20% of all adult travelers are considered adventure tourists. However, most travelers don’t want adventure merely for adventure’s sake. Instead, today’s savvy jetsetters want to combine an exciting experience organically with the beauty and local flavor of a location.
If you’re looking for the best of both worlds, look no further than New Zealand, the world’s most picturesque adventure destination. Much more than just bungee jumping and skydiving, New Zealand offers an array of amazingly adventurous activities that highlight the best of the country’s world-class scenery.
Here are 5 favorites:
1.) Abseiling in the Waitomo Caves
Waitomo is a favorite spot on New Zealand’s North Island because of the high concentrations of glow worms. These glimmering creatures turn an average cave into a magical place, and hundreds of thousands of visitors visit the caves each year looking for a calm, serene experience.
Adrenaline junkies can kick things up a notch by trying one of the high-octane adventure options instead, complete with abseiling, swimming and climbing throughout the caves.
Try: Waitomo Adventures, 5 different tour options ranging from $94 to $256 USD.
2.) Tramping the Alpine Tongariro Crossing
Considered by many to be New Zealand’s most popular day tramp, the 13 mile Tongariro Alpine Crossing on the North Island is not for the faint of heart! The hike, at first, seems deceptively easy, taking you past innocent bubbling brooks along a boardwalk path.
You soon realize that you’re in for a serious hiking experience and travel up and over mountains on incredibly steep terrain (past the Lord of the Rings’ Mount Doom!), through geothermal areas that make the ground steam with a sulfur haze. The quickly changing weather can also add a level of intensity to this already strenuous adventure.
Try: Tongariro Expeditions NZ, $40 USD for round-trip transportation from Taupo.
3.) Hang Gliding over Queenstown
Many of us dream of soaring high above the clouds, and there’s no better place to do it than high above Queenstown, the adventure capital of the South Island. With a tandem hang gliding flight from atop of Coronet Peak, you’ll have both a heart-pumping (yet still gentle) thrill and a heart stopping view.
Try: Sky Trek, beginning at $160 USD for a 10-20 minute hang gliding flight. Includes all transportation.
4.) Hiking on Franz Josef’s Glacier
The 7.5 mile Franz Josef Glacier is unique in that it sits along the lush rainforest of the South Island’s rainy western coastline. There are several different opportunities to get up close to the icy glacier, whether you’d prefer to go ice climbing, glacial hiking or a helihike. So, strap on some crampons and be prepared for the difficultly counterintuitive experience of walking… on ice.
Try: Franz Josef Glacier Guides, with activities ranging from $40 to $300 USD.
5.) Skydiving in Taupo
Skydiving at 15,000 feet over Lake Taupo is the absolute ultimate in New Zealand adventures. The hardest part is sitting on the floor of the plane with your legs dangling outside. But then, you’re flying with 60 seconds of free-fall. Before you know it, the parachute is pulled and you’re floating gently amongst the clouds and down to the ground, with a beautiful view that goes on for miles and miles, over all of Taupo.