11 Extreme Activities in New Zealand That You Can Try

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Alright, adrenaline enthusiasts, daredevils, and all-round adventurous souls – let’s put away those safety manuals and venture into the heart-pounding, spine-tingling, pulse-racing world of extreme adventures. Our playground? The stunning, awe-inspiring landscapes of New Zealand!

We’re not here for leisurely strolls or serene sunset-watching, either. We’re talking about a realm outside of your comfort zone, where the rush of adrenaline becomes your morning wake-up call. From defying gravity with a bungee cord as your lifeline to exploring ancient, glowworm-lit caves, New Zealand has it all. And the best bit? These extraordinary experiences are just a road trip away.

So, tighten those laces, brace yourselves, and let’s dive right in. Together, we’re going to discover a New Zealand that few dare to – a land teeming with high-octane thrills and unforgettable adventures. Adventure knocks on your door, right from the moment you hire a car with GO Rentals. Buckle up, folks, ’cause you’re in for a wild ride!

1. Bungee jumping at Kawarau Bridge

Bungee jumper in New Zealand

Feeling the wind whoosh past your ears as you take a leap of faith off the Kawarau Bridge, is, dare I say, a quintessential New Zealand experience!

This site, just a 20-minute scenic drive from Queenstown, is like Mecca for thrill seekers, being the birthplace of commercial bungee jumping. You’ll find yourself plunging headfirst, 43 meters down over the stunning turquoise Kawarau River.

Terrifying? Maybe. Exhilarating? Absolutely. And the perfect way to shake off any residual jet lag, don’t you agree?

2. Skydiving in Taupo

skydiver as seen from below

Fasten your GoPro and summon your inner daredevil, because it’s high time to experience the thrill of skydiving. Can you think of a more fitting place than Taupo, known worldwide as the skydiving hub?

As you set out on the 3.5-hour drive from Auckland, your anticipation will only grow. Skydiving over the Great Lake, with the majestic snow-capped volcanoes as a backdrop, is the ultimate adrenaline rush.

You’ll descend from a mind-boggling altitude of 15,000 feet, surpassing speeds that would make any sports car envious. If that isn’t something to gloat about for years to come, I’m not sure what is. Learn more here.

3. White water rafting in Rotorua

White water rafting in Rotorua, one of the extreme activities in New Zealand

If you’ve never been flung around like a rag doll while whooping in pure exhilaration, have you really lived? Just an hour’s drive from Tauranga, Rotorua boasts the Kaituna River, a world-class location for white water rafting.

Not only does it offer a wild, fast-paced adventure, but also it’s the home to the world’s highest commercially-rafted waterfall! A 7-meter drop, people! Now, that’s what I call making a splash.

4. Zorbing in Rotorua

Two zorb balls

Oh, you thought Rotorua was all about white water rafting, did you? Well, hold onto your hats because it also offers zorbing – yes, zorbing. It’s as bizarre and fun as it sounds.

Picture yourself inside a giant inflatable ball, hurtling down a hill, laughing your head off. It’s just a mere 10-minute drive from the city center, and it’s the perfect activity for those wanting to shake things up. Not for the faint-hearted or the motion-sick prone, mind you!

5. Jet boating in Queenstown

Jet boat

Queenstown, also known as “the adventure capital of the world,” invites you to experience the jaw-clenching thrill of jet boating on the Shotover River, just a stone’s throw from downtown.

This isn’t some laid-back Sunday out on the water. These jet boats speed, spin, and slide through the narrow river canyons at heart-stopping speeds. After 45 kilometers of pure adrenaline, you’ll return to the pier and see photos and videos from your trip.

Trust me, you’ll be screaming with delight…or is it terror? Anyway, you’ll love it!

6. Caving in Waitomo

Boat outside Waitomo Caves

What do you get when you merge the thrill of Indiana Jones’ exploits with the mystique of a mermaid’s abode? You’ve got caving in Waitomo!

Just a short 2.5-hour drive from Auckland, Waitomo is famed for its intriguing labyrinth of underground caves, illuminated by a galaxy of glowworms. But this experience is not your everyday peaceful boat ride through a cave, it’s a hearty mix of black water rafting, tubing, abseiling, and climbing.

If you’re looking for a rush, this is the ultimate caving experience. It might be as close as most of us get to being professional spelunkers. It’s like an unforgettable “stuck between a rock and a hard place” experience, in the dark!

7. Heli-skiing in the Southern Alps

people dropped off by heli-skiing helicopter

All right, you may have tried skiing, but have you ever been dropped off by a helicopter on untouched snowy mountain slopes? If not, let me introduce you to heli-skiing in the Southern Alps.

Get ready for a heart-thumping, adrenaline-rushing, scream-into-the-wind kind of experience as you carve through fresh powder in a winter wonderland.

Various operators are based out of Queenstown and Wanaka, so take your pick! And don’t worry, no Yeti sightings have been reported… yet.

8. Mountain biking in Nelson

Mountain biker in Nelson

Just two hours away from Picton, Nelson is more than just a pretty place to visit. It’s got grit, and it’s got dirt – the kind that mountain biking dreams are made of.

Nelson boasts some of the world’s best biking trails, offering a cocktail of fast descents, steep climbs, and jaw-dropping vistas. You’ll be whipping through dense forest, hugging narrow cliff faces, and maybe, just maybe, mumbling a few choice words as you tackle “that ridiculous incline.”

With an average of 2,780 hours of sunshine each year, you can ride these trails nearly all year long—and certainly a few times per week. All this makes Nelson the perfect place to challenge your bike skills.

9. Surfing at Raglan

Beach and waves at Raglan, with flower stalk in foreground

Waves dance to a mesmerizing rhythm in Raglan, inviting both surfers and beach enthusiasts to its shores. If you’re drawn to the allure of consistent left-hand breaks and epic water sports, Raglan has an irresistible siren call you can’t resist.

A scenic two-hour drive from Auckland leads you to this surfer’s paradise, where riding world-class waves will make you feel like the hero of a 90s surf movie. And if you don’t know how to surf, this is the perfect place to take to the waves with a surfing lesson!

As the sun sets, nothing will beat the joy of enjoying the view with a surfboard under your arm and the scent of salt in your hair.

10. Kayaking in Abel Tasman National Park

Person kayaking in Abel Tasman National Park

The Abel Tasman National Park, with its golden beaches and crystal-clear waters, is truly a slice of heaven. But we’re not just sunbathing here – we’re kayaking!

Imagine paddling around the coastline, dotted with tiny islands and hidden coves, just a 1.5-hour drive from Nelson. Marvel at the seal colonies and birdlife, all from the comfort of your kayak. And when you’re ready, beach your boat and take a well-deserved nap in the sun. Ah, paradise indeed!

11. Canyoning in Coromandel

gorge in Coromandel peninsula

Canyoning in Coromandel is a symphony of slipping, sliding, climbing, and abseiling that plays out in a wild, rugged landscape.

Located around a 2.5-hour drive from Auckland, Coromandel is a place that makes you earn your thrills. One moment you’re swimming through crystal clear pools, the next you’re rappelling down a waterfall.

A bungee jumper over a river in New Zealand. The text overlay says "heart pumping experiences in New Zealand.”


So, folks, have you enjoyed the ride? We have jumped off bridges, danced with the waves, and dared the mountains, and we have probably lost a few years of our lives as a result of all the adrenaline we have pumped into our bodies. But isn’t that what it means to be a thrill seeker? We’re the ones who don’t merely respond to nature’s siren song; we have it programmed into our speed dial.

New Zealand has laid down the gauntlet, with its spell-binding landscapes and hair-raising adventures. Each activity we’ve mentioned has offered a unique way to experience this stunning country, and it’s helped us break out of our routines and allowed us to truly feel alive.

So, whether you’re planning your first adventure or you’re a seasoned adrenaline junkie, remember that thrill-seeking isn’t just about the fear you overcome, but the joy you discover in doing so. And one thing’s for sure: In the land of the Kiwis, there’s always a thrill waiting around the corner, or at most, a short drive away!

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Written by Linda

Linda is multilingual and has been to over 50 countries. Her insatiable love of travel, cuisine, and foreign languages inspired her to create As We Saw It, where she documents her trips, shares practical itineraries, and offers insider tips. She’s passionate about helping fellow travelers save time, money, and hassle, and loves to discover new places to explore.

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