New Zealand: an adventurer’s fantasia
The 'Paradise of the Pacific' has a worldwide reputation for its adventure travel opportunities. What activity will you choose?
Adrenaline adventures are big business. An astronomical $89 billion was spent on adventure travel in 2009 alone, according to researchers from George Washington University.
Travellers are increasingly seeking a shock and want their journey to incorporate some degree of risk. Adventure travel, according to the US based Adventure Travel Trade Association, can be defined as any activity which involves any two of the following elements:
- A physical activity
- A cultural exchange/interaction
- Engagement with nature
In other words, a sweaty, high-adrenaline holiday, in an exotic and outdoor environment. Travellers want to step outside of their comfort zone. They want
something more. They want a thrill.
Welcome to New Zealand
The Kiwi nation is a focal point for adrenaline junkies all over the world. The nation is recommended by many as the adventure capital of the world.
Situated 2,000 kilometres from the south east shores of Australia, thousands of travellers visit the captivating lands of this small idyllic beauty spot every year.
The true magic of New Zealand, famously captured in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings, lies in its vast ancient forests, scintillating fjords, snowy mountain passes, lakes and glaciers.
Consisting of two main islands and many smaller ones in the South Pacific Ocean and with a population of only four million, New Zealand is an enigmatic country. The North Island boasts scenery ranging from sandy beaches, through rolling farmland and forests to active volcanic peaks with bubbling mud pools; while the South Island is renowned for its magnificent mountains, fjords, large beech forests, beautiful beaches and large glaciers.
New Zealand, known as the ‘Paradise of the Pacific’, has a temperate climate on the South Island and subtropical climate on the North Island where maximum daytime temperatures sometimes exceed 30°C and only fall below 0°C in the elevated inland regions.
The city of Queenstown has been dubbed ‘Adventure Capital of the World’ by its people and it’s easy to see why.
The Kiwi’s endless adventure activities mean there is something for every kind of traveller.
New Zealand boasts an abundance of breathtaking hiking routes.
The world-renowned Routeburn Track usually starts on the Queenstown side of the Southern Alps, and finishes on the Te Anau side several kilometres of Milford Sound.
The 24-mile track is classified as a Great Walk and overlaps two National Parks; the Mount Aspiring National Park and Fiordland National Park.
The Abel Tasman Coastal Track is another of New Zealand’s most popular hiking trails.
The majority of the route embraces the coast line allowing for travellers to make the most of New Zealand’s gold sandy beaches.
But you will need a tide table when planning your hike. The route passes several estuaries that can only be crossed a couple of hours either side of
low tide. There is dormitory accommodation on the track and
you will need to book your hut accommodation by buying a summer season hut pass.
Other popular tracks
In the unparalleled setting of a spectacular volcanic terrain, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing track features a cold mountain spring, lava flows, an active crater, steam vents, emeraldcoloured lakes and magnificent views.
The Rakuira Track, also known as the Kepler Track, showcases all the famous Fjordland features.
Hikers can take in the astounding views such as the mountain ranges, gushing waterfalls, U-shaped valleys, river flats, moss-draped beech forests and limestone formations.
All of New Zealand’s famous hiking tracks offer once in a lifetime experiences. But the adventure doesn’t end there – New Zealand has loads of other extreme activities on offer.
In the winter, New Zealand’s beautiful landscape dramatically transforms. The hiking routes across the nation effortlessly change into winter wonderlands for ski enthusiasts. Many travellers take advantage of cheaper flights from the UK and fly during the Kiwi winter (June to October). There they can ski, snowboard or even walk and climb in the plush snow.
The Te Paki Dunes provide a fantastic spot for sandboarding. The spot is popular with extreme sports enthusiasts for the considerable speed reached. Some sandboarders can overshoot the base of the dunes and skim across the water in the shallow river bed.
For adventurers more interested in seeing the spectacle than taking part, there are parking spaces for tourists that offer a fantastic view for the thrill seekers trying their hand at sandboarding on the large sand dunes.
Kayaking in New Zealand provides an ample opportunity to explore the country’s magnificent coastline. You can navigate the Whanganui River which is the longest navigable waterway in the country. You can also manoeuvre through the waters of the Marlborough Sounds on a salt water tour.
But if you really fancy the thrill of whitewater, try the Rangitaiki and Mohaka in the North Island or the Clutha and Kawarau in the South Island. An always memorable highlight for travellers is the Tonga Island Marine Reserve where you can often see seals between March and October.
Why not head out and see the Kiwi land on four wheels?
The country is full of forest and farmland and guides are available to show you the best spots. Such is the popularity of quadbiking, trails are offered to suit beginners or experienced riders.
A popular quadbiking region is Northland’s Ninety-Mile Beach and Cape Kidnappers’ gannet colony where Taupo and Nelson’s backcountry is explored.
Many travellers believe the real way to truly appreciate New Zealand’s beauty is to take to the air and enjoy the variety of aerial activities on offer.
One of the most common air sports is aqua gliding. The pilot is suspended in a harness below the glider and from there, by moving your
body backwards and sideways, the glider can climb and steer.
Popular aqua gliding locations include Pukekohe, Nelson, Christchurch and Queenstown and some can offer winter flying.
New Zealand’s views were voted runner up for the most scenic skydive in the world, beaten only by Everest. A popular route for travellers is taking the spellbinding dive over the Fox Glacier, the largest glacier in the West Coast. This is followed by a close encounter with Mount Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain at 12,316 ft.
Sky diving from Fox Glacier, located in Westland Tai Poutini National Park on the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island, offers the view of a lifetime for any jumper. As the snow and ice move down the valley, giant crevasses open up. Jumpers usually choose to dive from the same height as Mt Cook.
If the aerial heights of New Zealand aren’t for you then walking the world renowned Franz Josef and Fox glaciers may be more to your liking.
The 12 mile Fox Glacier uniquely descends from the Southern Alps to less than 300 metres (980 ft) above sea level. Along with the 7.5 mile Franz Josef glacier, the area is part of Te Wahipounamu, a World Heritage Site park.
Guided and unguided walks up to and onto the glacier are possible but the latter will require specialised equipment. The glacier area is one of the main tourist attractions of the West Coast, with around 250,000 visitors a year.
Bungee jumping is arguably New Zealand’s most famous thrill-seeking activity. In 1888 AJ Hackett opened the first commercial bungee jump from the Kawarau Bridge, 43 metres (141 feet), over the Kawarau River. Queenstown, situated on the South Island, houses three bungee sites and folklore has it that the jump off the top of the gondola was moved around the mountain because the frequent screams of jumpers disrupted funerals taking place in a graveyard below.
There you have it. Since Europeans reached the land in 1642, New Zealand has been enticing travellers ever since.
From popular activities on the ground such as hiking, glacier walking and sandboarding to the more exhilarating air adventures such as sky diving, bungee jumping and aqua gliding, New Zealand is an adventurer’s utopia.
It’s no wonder travellers generally agree the nickname God’s own country is an apt choice. The Kiwi nation is diverse, unspoiled and quite simply an adventurer’s fantasia.
First Light Travel
They say: "The best activities and experiences New Zealand has to
offer, with an educational and cultural element."
They say: "Your journey should open more than suitcases. It is a rare
opportunity to open doors to new cultures, exhilarating scenery and
liberating experiences. This is your journey!"
They say: "Haka Tours represents the ultimate in New Zealand
adventure tours, from small group adventure travel to epic NZ ski
and snowboard holidays."
Why limit your Adventure to NZ? You can take part in adventure travel across the globe. Take a look at these sites for inspiration: