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Photo: acaben

Turner Wright has some suggestions for how to get crazy in New Zealand.
1. Go tandem hang gliding in Queenstown

Arguably the best way to see New Zealand’s adventure capital is hang gliding. If you’re not enough of an expert to run off the nearest mountain by yourself, don’t worry. Like skydiving, tandem options (flying with a seasoned instructor) are available.

Check out SkyTrek for a good tour.

2. Jump from an airplane in Taupo

Taupo is famous for its hot pools, views of Mt. Ngauruhoe (Mt. Doom in Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth), and having the largest yearly influx of skydivers. More than 30,000 visitors fly here just to get back on a plane and see it from above: clear blue skies, a snow-capped Mt. Ngauruhoe, and a huge lake.

Skydive Taupo offers limousine service from the town.

3. Take a morning hike to Cathedral Cove

As much touted as the South Island is, I found the Coromandel Peninsula near the town of Whitianga one of the most undisturbed places in New Zealand.

The Tongariro Track / Photo: anoldent

It might not be the same thrill as base jumping, but it most definitely is a race. Who is willing to get up earlier and make the 45-minute hike to enjoy the cove to themselves? You.

4. Eat the biggest burgers in New Plymouth

So what do you really know about New Zealand’s cuisine? Baked beans on toast, fish and chips…and burgers. Insurmountable burgers.

Most travelers come away from the Fergburger in Queenstown thinking they’ve seen one of the biggest beef patties to have ever been grilled. Amateurs.

The Naki Burger (named for the Taranaki region) in New Plymouth is about 25% bigger, and features two patties, one boiled egg, bacon, pickles, tomatoes, mayonnaise, lettuce, and onions. Want a challenge that doesn’t involve leaping from tall buildings?

5. Dodge magma on White Island

Few Aucklanders, or “Jaffas” as they call them in Otago, are aware of the imminent threat of destruction by the active White Island volcano. Ash, tremors, small eruptions, and bursts of sulfur are not uncommon, and many experts believe a major eruption is just around the corner.

If you need a thrill, pit yourself against the possibility of having to outrun a hot pool of magma while hiking on this island.

Photo: hmalsch

6. Try Zorbing in Rotorua

This might be hard to believe, but people actually pay to be strapped into a giant plastic ball and tossed down a hillside.

Just a few kilometers outside of Rotorua, is Zorb.

According to Zorb’s website,

Rotorua is the place said to smell like rotten eggs and enhance male sex drive.

You have a couple of choices: the Zorbit (aka the ‘astronaut-in-training’ ride) which will have you tumbling head over heels, and the Zydro, a wet version of the Zorbit. With Zydro you can choose a straight track or a crazier zig-zag track.

7. Surf a sand dune on Ninety Mile Beach

As far as I know, there are three kinds of surfing in New Zealand: the traditional water kind, the type that involves sleeping on strangers’ couches, and lastly, sliding down golden sand dunes on Ninety Mile Beach.

Photo: empty007

Dune surfing gives one a little more time to enjoy the ride, not to mention a gentler landing in the event of an accident.

8. Take a (big) hike

Some of the best hiking in the world is done right here in New Zealand. Most famous, the Milford Track is the way to go, but it’s next to impossible to go solo or without the protection of the Department of Conservation (DOC) huts at night; the trek is booked months in advance, so be prepared.

The Tongariro Track in the middle of the North Island is my personal favorite, with great views of Mt. Ngauruhoe and volcanic craters along the walk, and hot pools a short distance away once you finish up.

9. Drive a Tank

I’m all for conservation, eliminating unnecessary waste, and cutting down on weapons of mass destruction. But, let’s face it, driving a tank across the New Zealand countryside is sweet as. Go with the company Tanks for Everything, and you too can be in command of a 52-tonne battle tank.

Community Connection

Want to learn to speak like a Kiwi? Check out Vera Alves’ advice on essential tips and phrases.

About The Author

Turner Wright

Turner Wright is a marathon runner first, an adventurer second, and a writer through it all. Apparently, he has a thing for island nations, having lived in Japan, and soon to be headed for New Zealand. Check out his adventures at Keeping Pace in Japan.

  • joshua johnson

    Zorbing…now I have seen it all! Sign me up!

  • John Wasko

    Zorba faced his companion, the young engineer, ” The problem with you Englishmen is you don’t know how to dance”


  • Callum

    Cathedral Cove – that has to be one of the best kept beach secrets in NZ.

    • Val C.

      Not a very well kept beach secret, I’d say.  Features prominently in much of NZ’s overseas adverts!

  • Katie

    Amazing- thanks for this! Im heading to New Zealand in May and will be sure to do some of these. Think tandem hang gliding may be my alternative to sky diving which Im too scared to do!

  • Alexis Grant

    Whoa! I’ve bungee-jumped in NZ before, but Zorbing looks like it beats that! Putting it on my list for next time!

  • Rose Colhoun

    I recommend doing the Milford Track immediately after the official season has ended – about the end of April. It means you don’t have to book and you pay quarter what the normal hut fees are. I did it in May, so the weather was still reasonably settled, but make sure you get advice from DoC and check the weather forecasts. Despite all the hype, it actually is a really beautiful track and totally worth doing.

  • tory

    black water rafting in the glow worm caves of waitomo is beyond anything i have ever done. so much fun, and ridiculously unique. love nz.

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