New Zealand epitomizes adventure travel be it tandem skydive and water rafting or paddling or boating or even indulging in outback safaris. New Zealand adventure travel is for people with reasonable levels of fitness and tremendous interest in outdoor activities. The wonderful outdoor spaces of New Zealand afford invigorating energy to the visitor to indulge in adventure opportunities.
Whether hiking through the pristine national parks, or canoe riding into the ancient Maori culture, or just cycling through the picturesque New Zealand countryside or spending the night in a small ship in the spectacular Doubtful Sound, adventure holidays are made here!
The ski resorts of Queenstown and Wanaka are especially famous. Remote skiing locations like Mount Potts Backcountry and Temple Basin Ski Area are also becoming increasingly frequented by international skiers. The skiing season in New Zealand begins in early July and extends till early October. This is the time when the Northern Hemisphere slopes melt away leaving New Zealand an ideal international ski destination.
Throughout New Zealand there are commercial resorts fitted with high speed quad chairs, ski schools and gear rentals along with groomed wide open slopes meant for skiing. Most of the ski fields are geared to the domestic downhill. There are professional skilled guides available to take the tourist onto the virgin slopes high among the peaks of the Southern Alps. Some of the well known Ski areas in New Zealand:
- The two largest ski areas are at Mount Ruapehu, one is Turoa and the other Whakappa.
- There are great ski resorts and ski fields and heli skiing pads in the Southern Alps of the South Island.
- Greatest concentration of commercial ski fields are located around Queenstown namely Coronet Peak and The Remarkable; Wanaka has the Treble Cone, Cardrona and Waiorau Nordic Ski areas. Further north near Methven one can find Mount Hutt and Mount Potts Backcountry ski areas which are within two hours drive of the Christchurch International Airport.
- On the eastern side of the Southern Alps a number of ski sporting clubs and ski lodges are available but they can be accessed by four wheel drive vehicles or by a long walk.
Heli-skiing and glacier skiing
New Zealand is a great place for heli skiing and heli boarding. Methven, Mount Cook, Queenstown and Wanaka are the main heli skiing locations in this country. A fantastic 12 km scenic run is provided in Mount Cook. Heli skiing is only for the affordable tourist as it costs nearly NZ $ 735 a day.
Since 1880s, the Routeburn track has proved to be excellent and most accessible for hiking journeys in New Zealand. It traverses wild and scenic mountain country between the Hollyford and Dart Valleys at the base of New Zealand's Southern Alps. There are ample private huts stocked with food and comfortable beds, flush toilets and even hot showers for the discerning hiker!
The dense beech forests bordering the emerald waters of Lake Mackenzie, the well graded trail that winds above the tree line at Key Summit, a rich variety of mosses, ferns and lichens carpeting the forest floor all the way, with the wispy Goblin Moss hanging from the trees lend an eerie look. The spectacular views of the three valleys the Greenstone to the East, the Eglington to the South and the Hollyford to the West are a hikers' delight. The zigzag bush line, the dramatic alpine terrains of Hollyford Face, the purple-stalked native daisies and the Tasman Sea view are well worth the hike.
New Zealand offers some of the world class scuba diving sites with its 15000 km of coast line and numerous lakes and rivers. Colorful, fascinating sea life and clear waters makes for excellent viewing by the tourists. The sub tropical reefs, wrecks and alpine fiords offer a rich scuba diving experience to the adventurous diver. The wealth and density of the marine life, coral reef crinoids and volcanic rock formations covered with hard corals and sea fans are exhilarating.
The geographical location of this country New Zealand which lies halfway between the equator and the South Pole, lends itself to temperate and benign weather and water conditions which are a boon for scuba diving adventures. Some of the top diving locations in New Zealand are:
- Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve with its crystal clear waters that offer an incredible range of fishing and many tropical species
- The sheltered Bay of Islands
- The dramatic Fiord land
- Steward Island that has a breathtaking kelp forests and huge abalone
New Zealand's pristine coastal waters promise a blissful sailing holiday to the adventurer who seeks time out on the water. This beautiful country offers unique offshore perspectives with its island studded bays, tranquil and secluded inlets and meandering drowned valleys. Bay of Islands, Hauraki Gulf and Marlborough Sounds are some of the best sailing points for a literal holiday afloat in New Zealand.
New Zealand has about 6000 km of exposed coastline to offer passionate surfing for the adventurous. The variety of surf breaks is simply awesome in this country. The beaches of New Zealand can be surfed year round. The long insular shape of the country lends itself for quick surfing across one coast to the other. Tourists can joy ride the giant steamrollers and Malibu style wave sets at Murderer's Bay in Dunelin as well as velvet smooth tunnels at Gisborne. Centre Rarotoka Island and Papatowai and the Shark Island are a few places where the Ocean swells and tempts the wave rider's dream.
Tourists would note the specially designed mountain bike tracks through the beautiful native bush. Alpine heli biking is for the adventurous rider looking out for a unique challenge. While on the one hand flat, gravel smooth tracks are found, long steep climbs with tough obstacles, loose track surfaces and killer climbs are aplenty in the countryside suitable for riding by more experienced riders.
There is no dearth of walking opportunities in New Zealand. Around 30% of New Zealand's land area is officially protected with public access. Organized walking tours take the tourists through national parks and reserves and volcanic, coastal regions that this country is famous for. Walkers can experience nature in its purest sense with birds and wildlife all around. Overnight walks are also organized at Milford, Hollyford, Routeburn and Queen Charlotte tracks.
Kayaking and rafting activities
Seals, penguins and other wildlife can be seen up close during kayaking. Kayaking is particularly popular in the Hauraki Gulf and Bay of Islands in the North Island and the Abel Tasman National Park, Marlborough Sounds and Fiordland in South Island. White water kayaking and rafting opportunities are excellent in Rangitaiki, Kaituna, Rangtikei, Mohaka and the Wairoa rivers around Rotorua in North Island and the Grey, Buller, Harunui, Rngitata and Kawarau rivers on the West Coast of the South Island.
Caving in New Zealand
New Zealand is the place for underground adventures with its deep caving systems to beautiful limestone formations. Cavers known as Spelunkers claim that New Zealand's caves pose a challenge even to the best of cavers in the world. Waitorno caves in North Island are easily accessible and famous for caving activities. There is Black water rafting through the caves which should be special for an adventurous traveler. There are also a set of more difficult caves for the more confident cavers - Tasman Mountains North West of Nelson.
Adventure travel in New Zealand
Raglan beach: has some of the best waves in New Zealand at Whale Bay and Manu Bay.
Phia has black iron sand and is notorious or its rips and
Gisborne: Since 1960s the marvelous surf beaches at Gisborne attract tourists. The coastline is affected by long ocean swells coming from the east and south. Since Gisborne is the first place in the world to see sunrise each day, dawn surfing is popular.
Makorori Point which is about 8 km from Gisborne is a famous surf location. During south / south east spell waves around 2 meters high tide can be watched here.
Hanmer springs are suitable for cycling in the country side where bikers can head to Godley Heads and Summer. On the way a tourist can soak in thermal springs and indulge in invigorating massage.
St. Arnauds is where beech forests and glacial lakes are perfectly set for a good overnight stay after a biking session over the summit Mt. Isobel for a panoramic view of the Clarence Valley and the Hanmer Basin.
Located in the east coast of the south island, Kaikoura provides access to some of the most remarkable wild life viewing opportunities anywhere in the world. Gigantic population of krill, micro plankton and mammals can be viewed on the bottom floor where the ocean drops off to depths over 2 km. Perhaps nowhere on earth one can see a gigantic sperm whale, fur seals and resident pods and hundred of dusky dolphins.
Enjoy a coastal walk to Marahau and delve into the Maori history. The coastal beauty can also be explored by paddling a waka.