New Zealand might seem like a small country, but its rich bounty of natural reserves and idyllic scenery make it one of the must-visit destinations for lovers of heart-pounding activities. From fresh wine and local food to amazing wildlife and exciting outdoor activities, you’re only ever one step away from the next mind-blowing experience.
If you're planning on travelling to New Zealand, be sure to pack hiking shoes and comfortable clothes because an unlimited amount of adventures lies ahead. Here are the top ten outdoor activities to enjoy when you visit New Zealand.
One of the best ways to explore New Zealand’s spectacular scenery is on a bicycle. Gently pedal your way through the country and experience the numerous trails we have here while enjoying the extraordinary panoramic views. For many people, this is also a great opportunity to get away from the sometimes busy highways.
If you’re a hiker who wants to fit in some cycling between your walks, our Ultimate South trip takes you along a section of the wonderful West Coast Wilderness trail.
The Alps to Ocean Trail is a journey that takes you from, as the name reveals, the mighty mountains of the Southern Alps all the way to the spectacular shores on the east coast.
Pedal on a former railway with this Otago Rail Trail trip. You’ll learn about the history of your destination while in the company of like minded cyclists.
There are many places to kayak when visiting New Zealand. If you decide to tour the Western Bay of Lake Taupo, you’ll be rewarded with a striking view of large, ancient Maori rock carvings at Mine Bay. It's located at the Whakamoenga Point, Acacia Bay, the area is notably only accessible by boat, but you can easily see this 10-metre-high structure without needing to get right up close.
One of the world’s best kayaking experiences can be found on the north end of the South Island, in Abel Tasman National Park to be exact. This wilderness reserve offers turquoise waters, golden beaches and sculptured granite cliffs that make the whole area look like a dream. Don’t be surprised if you’re joined by a curious seal or two.
The entire country is filled with rushing rivers, sheltered harbours, peaceful lakes and dramatic fiords that make kayaking so much fun. Paddle at your own pace and enjoy the abundance of beautiful waterways and vast blue oceans or join a guided tour and learn more about kayaking and this country’s wonderful nature. Click here to find out which of our trips include kayaking.
White Water Rafting
This is a sport that can be nice and peaceful but most of the time it’s fast and thrilling. It all depends on which river you’re paddling on but also the weather conditions - lots of rain usually means rough water. You’ll be navigating the inflatable raft down the river with a small group of people so prepare yourself for some real teamwork. Put your life vest on and get ready for a rollercoaster-like ride on the amazing waters of New Zealand. A beautiful place to do some rafting is Kaituna Waterfalls where Kaituna Cascades is only one of several companies who offers you an exciting ride on the Kaituna River.
The famous explorer, Jacques Cousteau, rated the Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve on the North lsland of New Zealand amongst the top dives in the world. Taking a tour of the island, it’s clear to see that it has been subject to volcanic eruptions, albeit in years gone by. These have given rise to the biggest sea cave in the world - the Riko Riko.
In turn, this natural phenomena has also resulted in an abundance of underwater life, ranging from marine animals to plants and other colourful sea creatures. You can also swim with dolphins in the Bay of Islands.
This is one thrilling outdoor activity you can enjoy in many places throughout New Zealand. Jumping out of a plane is exciting enough, but enhance your skydiving experience by taking in the lush vegetation, lakes and mountains that surround you on all sides. Skydiving in one of the most naturally beautiful regions in the world is one adventure you will remember for a long time to come. This is the perfect way to combine the excitement of free falling with the serenity of looking out onto the stunning landscape of New Zealand.
Canoeing is a great way to feel close to nature. It is a chance to explore remote places with only the sound of birds singing and your paddle smoothly running through the water.
You’d think New Zealand’s 9 Great Walks would all be, well walks, but one of them is actually on water - the Whanganui Journey. This trip earned its place on the list by offering steep sided canyons, lush forests, and peaceful, as well as lively, environments.
While you are here, take the chance to explore New Zealand’s glaciers and waterfalls up close. Really close. Like, literally touching them with your nose. Climbing up a wall of ice using axes and crampons is pretty badass and the feeling you get when you reach the top is hard to put in words. The fact that some of the ice climbing classes here require a helicopter ride up to the starting spot is just a fantastic bonus. So start stretching your arms because this is something you need to do at least once in your life. If you are interested in climbing up a frozen waterfall (how cool is that?!) you can find a multiple day course right here.
Dive from a bridge with your heart in your mouth or opt for the equally-memorable canyon swing. All your instincts will probably tell you not to jump but once you finally fight them and make the leap, you’ll be rewarded with a huge adrenaline kick that will have you gasping for air. The various locations to enjoy Bungy Jumping or Canyon Swinging in New Zealand include: Taupo Bungy (Taupo); Auckland Bridge Bungy (Westhaven Marina), The Ledge Bungy, Karawau Bridge Bungy and Shotover Canyon Swing (all in Queenstown).
Rolling down a hill in a gigantic plastic ball? Why not! These things can accelerate to a speed of 50 kilometers per hour. Since New Zealand is known for its extreme sports, it’s no surprise that the world’s very first Zorbing site was established here, in Rotorua to be exact, and it’s still open for business so strap yourself in and prepare to roll downhill at some speed!
Not much can compare to putting on those boots and exploring the wilderness of this country by foot. There’s something invigorating about being able to carry everything you need to survive in a single backpack. One of the things that makes hiking so great is that there’s something for everyone - short hikes, long hikes, day hikes, overnight hikes, easy hikes, challenging hikes, you name it! The hiking tracks in this country are structured and well maintained which makes it easy for both tourists and locals to wander the mind-blowing country that is New Zealand.