New Zealand is considered by many to be a dream destination filled with breathtaking landscapes and incredibly remote places. But, it also has a reputation for offering some of the most unique, adrenaline-inducing activities on the planet too. This is the country where bungee jumping was invented after all. But even if leaping off high bridges and platforms isn't on your bucket list, there are still plenty of other things to keep you busy. Here is our list of the most insane adventure activities to keep you occupied on a visit.
Take a Jet Boat up a Wild River
One of the more unique adventure experiences that you'll find in New Zealand is taking a jet boat up a narrow gorge along a remote river. Powered by engines that boast more than 800 horsepower, these boats are fast and agile out on the water. You'll zip along at breakneck speeds mere inches from the rock walls of the canyon as your expert guides deftly maneuver their way upriver. And just when you think things have started to calm down, they'll throw in a couple of 360 degree turns just to keep you on your toes.
Shotover Jet has been leading these kinds of tours for more than 50 years.
Skydiving is always an amazing – yet scary – experience no matter where go. After all, it seems silly to jump out of a perfectly good aircraft. But in New Zealand, it is also way to get a bird's eye view of the beautiful scenery that is so common on both the North and South Island. For some of the best views, head to the Tongariro National Park region, where the experienced instructors at Skydive Taupo will make the entire experience surprisingly easy.
Climb Mt. Doom
Located inside Tongariro National Park, Mount Ngauruhoe stands an impressive 7516 feet in height. The active stratovolcano erupted more than 45 times during the 20th century, although it has been mostly dormant in recent years. The mountain was used by director Peter Jackson to represent the fictional Mt. Doom in his Lord of the Rings films, and now it is a popular trekking spot for those who want to climb to the top. The flanks of the mountain are quite steep, but its summit can be reached in a couple of hours, rewarding adventurous climbers with views of the surrounding countryside, as well as the interior of the volcano's crater too. This hike is not especially technical and no guides or permits are required.
Raft a Raging River
New Zealand is one of the best whitewater rafting destinations in the world, with some of the wildest rivers imaginable. You'll find epic rafting tours in every part of the country, which also happens to offer the highest commercially rafted waterfall in the world along the Kaituna River in the Rotorua region. Visitors to that stretch of water actually plunge over a falls that is 23 feet in height.
As great as New Zealand looks on the surface, it is almost equally spectacular underground. The country is home to some of the most spectacular cave systems on the planet, with the ones found at Waitomo being top of the list. There are a number of guide services that lead tours through these caverns, but once again Black Water Rafting is one of the best. The company's Black Odyssey tour takes travelers on a spelunking tour through the caves, climbing, zip lining, and rappelling along the way. It is a one of kind adventure for sure.
Learn to Surf
Want to learn to surf while you're visiting New Zealand? Head to Manu Bay near Raglan to find some of the best waves anywhere. It is not uncommon for those swells to carry surfers for more than a mile across the water, which is an amazing ride just about anywhere. If you're already an experienced surfer, grab a board and hit the water. But those who are new to the sport, drop into the Raglan Surf School for a lesson.
Take a Hike!
If backpacking and trekking is one of your favorite activities, New Zealand has plenty to offer. It is home to a number of "Great Walks," although none is better than The Milford Track. This 33-mile stretch of trail runs from Glad Wharf to Milford Sound, with 40 independent trekkers allowed each day. That means you'll either need a permit before setting out (grab one here.) or you'll have to book a hike with a guide service. (We recommend Ultimate Hikes.) The walk will take you past snowcapped peaks, down-sweeping valleys, and past the tallest waterfall in the country, which means it is a spectacular hike to say the least.
Test Your Fly Fishing Skills
The rivers in New Zealand are filled with trout. Very big trout. That makes it a dream destination for anglers too, and a great place to test your fly fishing skills. The South Island in particular offers excellent opportunities to go fishing, For a great mix of scenery, fantastic river settings, and massive trout, head to the Nelson area. Dubbed the "sunshine capital" of the country, you'll find every element you need for a great outing in the backcountry.
Hit the Slopes
Believe it or not, New Zealand is a great destination for skier and snowboarders too, especially if you're looking to spread some backcountry powder. Both the North and South Island have opportunities to play in the snow, but for a pure adventure experience try heli-skiiing on Mount Cook with Harris Mountains Heli-Ski. You'll not only find untouched powder but virtually no crowds, as you glide down some of the best trails in the Southern Hemisphere. The helicopter will ensure you get safely in and out of the backcountry and whisk you back to the top of the mountain for your next run.
This is just a taste of the many adventures that New Zealand has to offer. It is a country that thrives on thrilling experiences, which is why it continues to be a major draw for travelers from around the globe.