Top 10 Adrenaline Activities to Try in New Zealand

Tiny little New Zealand really does have it all when it comes to activities that will get your heart racing and your adrenaline pumping. From North Island to South, it doesn’t matter where you are, you can get your fix of the most intense, adrenaline-fuelled action you can handle. And you can cram it all in to just a few days if you really wanted to.

10. Heli-Skiing / Boarding

Starting at number 10, is heli-skiing / boarding in the South Island. With several mountains to choose from, impressive powder conditions and stunning views, you won’t be disappointed with the rush you get from blazing your own trail through this untouched paradise. Just don’t forget you need to do this July to September as New Zealand’s seasons are opposite to the Northern hemisphere.

9. White Water Rafting

New Zealand White Water Rafting

With rivers in both the North and South Island to white water raft, your options seem to be limitless when it comes to paddling and careening your way through class I-IV rapids. Definitely take the opportunity to cliff jump as well as float on your own down the river. Another option for the adrenaline junkie: white water kayaking.

8. Mountain Biking

At Queenstown’s Skyline Bike Park in the South Island, world-renowned bike trails await your grit and determination. With over 30km of tracks and a gondola assisted bike lift to get you up there, the trail options range from basic to advanced so it will suit any level of ability. And as you fly down the trails, don’t forget to take a moment to enjoy the beautiful pine trees you’re maneuvering around in the Ben Lomond Reserve.

7. Luging

Luging Queenstown New Zealand

Have you ever wanted to see what it was like to play real-life Mario kart? If so, luging is exactly what you’re looking for minus a few banana peels. Hop on little carts with basic steering and braking and see how fast you can make it down to the bottom without some wipe-out induced road rash. With a luging location on both the North and South Island, you can definitely fit this wonderful little activity in your schedule. Plus it’s fairly cheap and comes with three different levels of track and spectacular views. 

6. Glacier Hiking

A quick photo in front of the Franz Josef glacier on the South Island. The glacier just happens to be in a temperate rainforest.

A quick photo in front of the Franz Josef glacier on the South Island. The glacier just happens to be in a temperate rainforest.

Strap on a pair of crampons, grab an ice axe, and head out for an adventure on a glacier in a temperate rainforest in the middle of summer. The views are impressive, the ice is massive, and the guides will find some awesome nooks and crevices to climb through, climb in, and climb up.

5. Jet Boat

A stellar action shot of a 360 on the jet boat

A stellar action shot of a 360 on the jet boat

Try your hand on either island with a jetboat adventure (a boat propelled by a jet of water from the back of the craft) which enables you to fly across mere centimeters of water. Your driver will fling you around in unexpected 360 degree turns that turn the canyon walls into a blur of rock and a spray of water.

4. Black Water Rafting

Black Water Rafting Waitomo

Picture yourself abseiling 35m down into a dark, damp cave, then ziplining in the pitch black to the underground river you will jump into in your 7mm wetsuit and inner tube. Next you’ll find yourself floating down the river with nothing but your headlamp to illuminate the caves. Oh, that and the green glow from the eerily cool glow worms hanging out in the cave roof. Enjoy wading through the cold water and out of the cave through a network of waterfalls to the daylight above after over 5 hours underground. One of the coolest experiences you can try.

3. Zorbing

Zorbing Rotorua New Zealand

What more could you ask for than bouncing down a straight or zig-zag path inside a giant, plastic, sort-of-bouncy ball? Another adrenaline pumping activity created and developed in Rotorua on the North Island, you can choose whether you want to be strapped in on your own, or share the experience with up to two friends as you roll and tumble down the hill together. Oh, and if that isn’t enough for you, head around the corner to Agroventures for some more activities and test your fear of heights with the 40m high Swoop swing.

2. Skydiving

Skydive Taupo

What would be a trip to New Zealand without a jump out of an airplane at 15,000 feet above the ground. With options in both North and South Island, the views are just fantastic and breath-taking, if you have any breath left from screaming as you fall out of the plane.

1. Bungy Jumping

Bungy Jump Taupo

The stunning view at Taupo Bungy. You can even choose to be dipped in the water if you’re up for it.

Of course bungy jumping makes it to number one on this list as it’s one of the most feared and adrenaline pumping activities you can do. What is more unnatural than throwing yourself off a ledge into the gorge of a river with only some silly little stretchy cord attached to your feet? Created and mastered in New Zealand by AJ Hackett, bungy jumping is the ultimate thrill no matter what country or place you’re in.  Take your chances in Taupo, with a 47m plunge overtop a breathtaking river gorge at the Taupo Bungy, or really stress yourself out with Queenstown’s Nevis Bungy at a fear-inducing 134m high jump over the valley floor.

If you want to check out this list in action, head over to my photo gallery of the two weeks I crammed all these exciting activities into. It was pretty wild.

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