New Zealand is known as an adrenaline junkie’s paradise.
But out of all the adrenaline activities, which ones should be at the top of your list?
That’s an impossible question in some regards, as the adrenaline activities vary so much. What gives you a big adrenaline rush won’t necessarily do the same for the next person.
So we will do our best to identify 10 unique activities that won’t disappoint.
And we aren’t just mimicking every other post on this topic. We aimed to include activities that other posts on this same topic don’t.
So here we go:
1. Hydro Attack in Queenstown
Queenstown is the first place in the world to have this experience commercially available.
Hydro Attack Queenstown describes their semi-submersible machines as a cross between a fighter jet and a torpedo.
I was thinking they’re more of a cross between a submarine and jet ski. Either way, they’re awesome.
From the safety of land, the Hydro Attack catches your eye and you can’t help but notice it zipping around Lake Wakatipu doing crazy leaps, rolls, and turns.
For those who appreciate stats:
How crazy you want your ride to be is up to you. As it’s only you and the expert driver, you get to choose how wild you want the driver to go.
To learn more: https://www.hydroattack.co.nz/
On the Hydro Attack you don’t have the controls, but with the Fly By Wire (near Wellington) it’s all on you. The Fly By Wire is a plane attached to a wire that pivots on a second wire that goes between the valley’s above.
There’s no activity like this anywhere else in NZ, so check out the video of the Fly-by-Wire in action (featuring Jeremy Clarkson) to truly understand what’s going on.
You’ve got full control of the steering wheel (you get instructions beforehand). If you can keep your cool under pressure you can swoop through the valley at speeds close to 80kph.That feels more like 100+ when you’re flying so close to the valley.
The ride lasts a little over 5 minutes, but for those wearing a watch that measures your heart rate, you’ll know which 5 minutes of the day you were on the Fly By Wire.
To learn more: https://flybywire.co.nz/
When the snow has melted on the Cardrona ski fields, the mountain carts come out to play.
“How is this even allowed in New Zealand?”
That’s what a friend said to the operators after two hours of mountain carting.
The 3-wheel carts are built in Germany and feature a low centre of gravity to give you the maximum action packed experience.
If you’ve been on a luge, mountain carting takes things to the next level and it’s all on you as you read and sign a waiver to acknowledge you understand the risks involved.
Many can’t understand how OSH (Health & Safety New Zealand) haven’t stopped them from operating.
After watching the safety video, you take the gondola to the top of the slopes and prepare to ride down one of the three dusty downhills tracks on Cardrona as many times as you want in the two hours.
From there, it’s all on you to decide how much you want to nurse the brakes down the hill.
The views from 1,600 metres above sea level aren’t bad either.
To learn more: https://www.cardrona.com/summer/experience/mountain-carting/
A visit to the Waitomo Caves is on the bucket list for most who come to NZ for the glow worms.
But there are a host of different ways you can experience the caves, and for the adrenaline junkies, the Black Abyss experience with The Legendary Black Water Rafting Co is the tour too book (and one of the more expensive).
On the Black Abyss you’ll spend five hours abseiling, zip lining, climbing, crawling, and tubing through the caves with glow worms seen throughout.
Once again this is an experience that’ll have varying results in terms of giving people an adrenaline rush. It’s not all go, go, go but the abseiling and zip lining through the pitch black cave are the two spots that are likely to give you the jitters.
Standing up for the first time on a surfboard is a rush, but what’s even better? Standing up on a surfboard then having dolphins surf the waves with you.
This is an experience that you can do in the surf around Curio Bay and Porpoise Bay in the Catlins, at the bottom of the South Island.
During the summer and autumn months this area is the home to the small Hector’s dolphin. Of the 7,000 remaining, about 20 of these hang in the immediate area. Despite the large bays the dolphins are forever curious and will come up to play with you.
DOC makes it clear that you aren’t to go find the dolphins, if they want to, they’ll come and spend time with you. And by all reports, this is a very common event.
White water rafting is available all around the world, including plenty of places around NZ.
So why is this on the list?
Because the Kaituna Rivers rafting experience has the world’s highest commercially rafted waterfall, the 7 metre high Tutea Falls.
And about 1 in 20 rafts will flip upside down going over the waterfall.
Now if that’s not enough to get your nerves going as you approach the main waterfall (there are two others on the trip), I’m not sure what will.
In terms of safety if you do flip, the bottom of the waterfall has calm water so when the boat does tip over there’s plenty of time to get the boat upright and everyone back in.
To learn more: https://www.rotorua-rafting.co.nz/kaituna-river-rafting/
Technically a flying fox, this makes the Skywire Experience one of the longest fly foxes in the world.
The Skywire itself is a ~1.6km wire system. For the first 1000 metres gravity does it’s thing as you fly down through the valley at close to 100kph.
Then you’re pulled up the last 600 metres with a big motor. And once you’ve been pulled back up the other side?
You’re back into freefall mode again, only backwards before being pulled back up to where you started.
That freefalling experience will get the adrenaline pumping through everyone.
To learn more: https://www.cablebayadventurepark.com/skywire-experience
This is a hike you won’t see on most lists of adrenaline activities in New Zealand, but I feel like it’s worth putting on here because it’s free, and the thrill of seeing, touching, smelling, tasting, and listening to a glacier is amazing.
Not all of us are physically and/or mentally prepared to scale the likes of Mount Aspiring and Mount Cook. But hiking the Earnslaw Burn Track leads to an amazing experience camping trip to the base of the Earnslaw Glacier.
Once you get to the base of the glacier, run through ice caves and jump under the waterfalls.
It’s a cool experience, and if you think this isn’t going to get your adrenaline pumping too much, all it’ll take is a jump in the stream of glacial water to get your body to enter into a fight or flight response.
The tour of Mount Tarawera (only guided tours are allowed here) is awesome on its own right, but for those who love a rush, the chance to run full tilt down the two sections of scree are going to be your favourite part of the tour.
The scree runs are both less than 200 metres, but you won’t need to slow down at all as there are only guided groups allowed on the mountain. So it’s all on you!
Of course, the faster you go, the higher your risk of something going wrong.
How brave are you?
To learn more: https://www.kaitiaki.co.nz/guided-tours/
This list has more variety in the adrenaline experiences around the country compared to most lists on this topic you see.
So we’ll include bungy jumping and skydiving and as it’s not an adrenaline activity list without them. But we won’t talk about them much. You know everything already, it’s just a matter of deciding where in NZ you do them. We recommend Nevis Bungy in Queenstown.
And there you go, 10…make that 11 adrenaline activities in New Zealand!
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