Six of the best adventures in New Zealand, from bouldering to bungy jumps

Whether you prefer a stomach-dropping free fall or a calf-burning rock ascent, New Zealand has no shortage of hair-raising adventures for those with a head for heights.

The Thunder Creek Falls crash in Mount Aspiring National Park, a slice of New Zealand's natural beauty that's easily accessible for adventurers

Photograph by Alamy Stock Photo
By Justin Meneguzzi
Published 12 Jan 2023, 08:00 GMT

1. Climb alongside a waterfall

After learning the ropes with a practice boulder, steel yourself for a 450-metre cable climb beside Wānaka’s beautiful Twin Falls. Wildwire’s Lord of the Rungs experience bills itself as one of the world’s highest waterfall climbs, with a via ferrata trail that traverses a series of escalating iron rungs and cable bridges. A helicopter meets you at the summit ready to deliver a James Bond finish back at home base.

2. Zip-line through native beech forests

Conquer the world’s steepest tree-to-tree zip-line on a treetop expedition outside Queenstown. Ziptrek Ecotours runs a range of zip-line tours, from one-hour experiences to half-day adventures that build up serious speed — dropping 30 storeys in 10 seconds as you whizz through beech forests. Carbon-neutral Ziptrek also restores native forests through tree-planting programmes.

3. Bungy jump in Auckland

The bungy jump is a hallowed rite of passage for any serious thrill-seeker in New Zealand. The 130ft plunge from Auckland Harbour Bridge is the only true bungy experience in the city and features epic views of the city skyline. That might be the last thing on your mind, though, as you shimmy to the edge and decide whether to pin drop, back flip or leap frog off the platform towards the emerald waters below.

Clamber up the 2,500-rung ladder that leads to the top of Twin Falls, close to Wanaka, ...

Clamber up the 2,500-rung ladder that leads to the top of Twin Falls, close to Wanaka, New Zealand

Photograph by Andrew Bain / Alamy Stock Photo

4. Carve up New Zealand’s highest slopes

New Zealand’s remote slopes are a dream for off-piste skiers and snowboarders. Methven Heliski flies out to the glaciated Arrowsmith Range, which runs alongside the Southern Alps. Here you can see the Pacific Ocean and Tasman Sea from the same peak. Packages include day trips, with five runs averaging drops of 750 to 1,000 vertical metres, and multi-day heliskiing.

5. Tandem skydive in Taupō

You may not be able to feel your face as you nosedive back to earth, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy spectacular views over volcanoes, coastlines and glittering Lake Taupō on the way down. Taupō Tandem Skydiving lets you pick your jump altitude, with the highest (18,500ft) giving you 75 seconds of weightless free fall during a tandem jump with a qualified instructor.

6. Go canyoning by moonlight

Mount Karioi, on North Island, is a canyoning paradise. Slip into a wetsuit and follow the streams flowing down the mountain, abseiling down waterfalls and plunging into freshwater pools. Raglan Rock offers canyoning tours year-round, including moonlit experiences where a constellation of glow worms illuminates the path down the mountain.

Published in the Jan/Feb 2022 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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