Adventure Seeker’s Guide to New Zealand
Imagine a place where you can spend the morning surfing along the coast, hike up to a snow-capped volcano in the afternoon and even explore a system of caves and caverns in between, if you so desire. With rainforests, glaciers, mountains, lakes, coasts, and waterfalls, New Zealand is essentially an adult playground for the adventure seeker.
Known as Aotearoa, meaning “land of the long white cloud” to the indigenous Maori, New Zealand is home to endless opportunities for thrilling escapades. If your next holiday destination is to this enthralling cluster of islands, consider these exciting adventures to embark on:
1. Visit the Central Volcanic Plateau
If you plan to begin your getaway of thrilling excursions at the top of the country, the Central Volcanic Plateau on the North Island is a must-see. Comprised of Rotorua, Tongariro National Park, and Taupo and three active volcano peaks, this natural New Zealand wonder could be a trip in itself.
Sprawling 100 kilometers in length, the Central Volcanic Plateau houses natural hot springs of bright reds and ocean blues, mineral lakes, mud pools and steaming geysers, and is surrounded by expansive volcanic desert. The number of activities available just in this area alone is enough to fill an entire week of vacation. Mount Ruapehu offers great hiking and views, the Tongariro crossing provides an excellent way to explore the area with a day-long trek, and the various geographical landscapes contained all within the region offer unique experiences.
2. Head to Queenstown
Known worldwide as the “Global Adventure Capital,” Queenstown should be the next location on your itinerary.
If you’ve never experienced spinning around a full 360 degrees in a boat as you zoom down a river, now is your chance. Feel the excitement in your chest and the spray of water as you travel at top speeds down the Shotover River in a jet boat. You can also opt for white water rafting down the rapids of this river. If rafting conditions and levels become too treacherous on the Shotover, you can also raft down the Kawarau River. Check off all your bucket-list items here in Queenstown when you bungee jump 440 feet down into the Nevis Valley or skydive out of a plane to a landing zone just below The Remarkables mountain range. End the day of excitement with a balloon or helicopter ride against the setting sun.
3. Indulge in local food and wine
If you can give your nerves enough of a breather between diving out of planes and cruising down white water rapids, treat yourself to the rich culture of New Zealand food and wine. Boasting numerous wineries and vineyards, handmade vintage cheeses, fresh local seafood and the now world-famous Kiwi flat white, there is no shortage of quality local delights to enthrall your taste buds with.
Take a ferry ride from Auckland to Waiheke Island, known as “the island of wine” or sip crisp, white Sauvignon Blanc straight from the Marlborough vineyard. And if wine isn’t quite your thing, there is a burgeoning craft beer scene in the country. Find specialty craft beers and brew pubs everywhere from Wellington and Nelson to Christchurch. Most importantly, you can’t leave New Zealand without a sampling of Mānuka honey. Learn more about this honey, used in food and drink offerings as well as skin and health care products, from the experts themselves at the Arataki Honey Visitor Centre.
4. Check out the Bay of Islands
One of the most historical regions in New Zealand, the Bay of Islands is also one of the most stunning. Dreamlike white sand, deep blue waters and rolling green hills make up the network of 144 islands. With inviting sprawling beaches, relatively calm oceans perfect for water sports and year-round warmth, this southern New Zealand region is a popular vacation spot.
For all you adventure seekers out there, don’t be fooled by the picturesque images. In addition to the breathtaking landscapes, opportunities for diving, jet skiing, surfing, swimming with dolphins, parasailing and snorkeling are right around the corner.
At the end of the day, no one is too adventurous for stargazing. While light pollution makes catching even a glimpse of the dazzling stars at night difficult in most locations, New Zealand is actually home to some of the best Milky Way viewing around the globe. In fact, the Aoraki Mount Cook Mackenzie marks the biggest International Dark Sky Reserve. Free of urban lights and development and boasting clear skies quite often, a trip to this region near the Southern Hemisphere may just give you the opportunity to catch a shooting star.
There is no shortage of adrenaline-pumping, heart-racing activities to do in New Zealand – the trouble is narrowing your options!