Think of New Zealand and we bet only one sport comes to mind – Rugby.
Sure, the Iconic All Blacks are awesome athletes, but look a little further and you’ll discover that the Southern Hemisphere archipelago has a rich culture of extreme sports written into the recesses of its dramatic landscape.
A tectonic string of islands on the Pacific Ring of Fire, New Zealand is made up of two main islands off the coast of Australia. With a volcanic past that created its undulating mountain ranges and frozen glaciers, New Zealand has three main extreme sports capitals in Auckland, Queenstown and Wellington. A land of endless outdoor activities, at Adrenaline Hunter we’ve listed over 254 and counting! Sure, it’s renowned for its Middle Earth silver screen fame and cute national bird, but New Zealand’s reputation within the extreme sports community is legendary – offering endless adventures across all four elements.
Check out our TOP 10 locations in New Zealand for an adrenaline fix like no other!
Coined ‘the adventure capital of New Zealand’, look at Queenstown on a map and it’s easy to see why. A coastal town on South Island situated by Lake Wakatipu and shadowed by the infamous Southern Alps, its stunning vistas, challenging terrain and sporting spirit make it a must-see for any adventure nomad.
A town of four seasons, winter in the Southern Hemisphere is the perfect time to try out Queenstown’s epic winter sports. With four internationally renowned ski resorts on your doorstep, The Remarkables and Coronet Peak boast some of the best black runs and backcountry skiing in the country – along with snowshoeing, ice climbing and mountaineering , plus the pistes stay open in summer for downhill MTB enthusiasts, too. If you couldn’t fit your crampons in your carry case, why not head to the world’s very first bungee jumping site in Kawarau? Better yet, take to the skies with a skydiving experience over the city for added thrill factor! The list continues, from zip lining to paragliding, white water rafting to speedboating – Queenstown has something to cater for everyone. A mecca for MTB to heliski, drop from the skies or speed up the waterways of the Dart river – all within driving distance from the city centre.
In the foothills of a dormant volcano, Auckland on North Island might be the most populated of the two, but the City of Sails got its name for a good reason. A sailing hotspot for all things fun, its ocean is packed with different kiting and sailing opportunities – whilst is modern skyline boasts one of the scariest sky walks in the world! Take a look at some of our best activites to try in Auckland:
– The Sky Walk is suspended 192 m above the ground on the exterior of the Sky Tower, drink in 360° views of the city and look down – if you dare!
– Try surfing on Muriwai beach! It’s never to late to learn to surf, so why not give it a go in one of the most beautiful locations in the world. Popular on the NZ coastline and favoured by their aussie neighbours, once you’ve nailed your standing series you’re ready to practice your technique on the island’s endless shoreline.
– Scuba diving & freediving on Goat Island. A nature-lover’s paradise, Goat Island is an ancestral Maori landing ground and now serves as a marine and bird sanctuary. Head out to sea and explore the tropical forests for sights of colourful fish, stingrays and even local dolphins if you’re lucky!
Speaking to the island’s tectonic location on the Pacific Ring of Fire, Rotorua is renowned for its hot springs and explosive geysers. Home to the Te Puia Arts & Crafts Institute, retrace the history and culture of the Maori before heading out for a jet boating tout to Mokoia Island or a rafting excursion on the Kaituna River – an exteme waterway that boats the highest rafted waterfall in the world, at 7m height, expect to get wet!
Situated in the centre of North Island, 84km from Rotorua, Taupo is distinguished by its beautiful lakes, dormant volcanoes and wealth of outdoor sports. A stunning melt water caldera that runs from the Huka Falls into a vast turquoise lake, Taupo is just as beautiful on the water as it is when exploring its environs by bike or foot. Surrounded by hot springs in the Geothermal area called ‘Craters of the Moon’, this stunning location is the perfect place to try rive rboarding as you race down the waterway with a float – or for those of you looking to test your technique – why not try funboating or kayaking.
Part of Otago (65km from Queenstown), Wanaka on New Zealand’s South Island is in the foothills of Mount Aspiring National Park. A coastal town with endless outdoor activities to try throughout the seasons – we’ve already listed over 100 activities at Adrenaline Hunter – which means heading to Wanaka guarantees you’ll be spoilt for choice.
Situated on New Zealand’s North Island at the heart of Egmont National Park, Mount Taranaki sits at 2,518m in the clouds. Considered one of the most symmetrical volcanoes in the world, its steep inclines and stunning views saw it reach no.2 in the Lonely Planet must visit list. Try trekking around the crater’s rim on a 19km altitude hike for jaw dropping views across the island. Along with its epic highs, Taranaki is also pumping at sea level, too – with the best beach break on the 45 Surf Highway (also see Kumara Patch, Back Beach, Fitzroy Beach, Puniho, Waiwhakaiho, Arawhata Road and Stent Road)
48km from Hamilto in the Waikato region on the North Island, Raglan is renowned for one thing – surf. Check out the clip below if you don’t believe us! There are also lots of different sports to try while in Raglan too, like caving in the Waitomo caves (St Benedict, TumuTumu and Haggas Honking Holes) only an hour from Raglan. Abseil into the mouth of a giant Jurassic cave , explore the blue canopy of bioluminescence under the glow of torch light and listen to the faint sound of stalagmites dripping water to form architectural columns.
Abel Tasman is on the Northwest point of New Zealand’s South Island. A place where kayaking and canyoning are king, head out into the national park and explore the magnificent granite canyons in the dense temperate rainforest. The perfect place to test your technique or try out the sport for the first time, the highlight of canyoning in Abel Tasman has to be Cleopatra’s Pool. Another top spot is the coastal kayaking route from Anchorage to Kaiteriter that’s blessed with beautiful lagoons near Adele Island that’s populated by a curious colony of seals that love sunbathing along the shore…
Not far from Kaikoura, Hanmer Springs is the perfect R&R destination on New Zealand’s South Island. A favourite spot for a little rest and relaxation, its hot springs and long hiking trails in the neighbouring mountains make it the ideal chilled spot for some spa treatments and long walks in the countryside. Try kayaking, horse riding, walking, scenic helicopter tours, canyoning, bungee jumping, speed boating and rafting on the Waia river… Well, after trying all that, you probably deserve a spa day!
An hour’s ferry ride from Auckland, Waiheke Island is the ideal escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Full of calm vistas out towards the horizon, turn of your wifi and get back to nature with a tree top canopy tour – zip lining above fruiting vineyards on one of the world’s most state of the art ZipStop lines (specially developed in NZ).
Pinball Mountain Dew
There are literally thousands of outdoor activities to try throughout New Zealand, but if you feel more at home in the bright lights of one of the country’s capitals, marvel at the Mountain Dew Skate Park that’s been designed to look and react like a giant pinball machine! Constructed in 2011 for Henderson Valley Film Studios in Auckland, this crazy film set has become a bucket list location for kick push kids across the globe. With a huge 600m² tricked out bowl with tunnels, ramps, boxes and interactive features, it has become a legendary designer skate park that were pretty bummed is exclusively open to the pros – damn, insert coin and try again…
Big fans of the road less travelled when it comes to action sports locations here at Adrenaline Hunter, there are still New Zealand’s most popular locations to try out – like Mt. Cook, Milford Sound etc. that definitely shouldn’t be missed. So if you’re pumped to find fresh powder, bungee jump from famous bridges or hike to the top of mountains buy a ticket to New Zealand – we guarantee you’ll never look back!
Photo : Instagram @camhnt, @tomarcherphoto et @karl_shakur