|Walking and Hiking
If you’re keen to enjoy New Zealand’s beautiful landscapes and explore vast wilderness areas, pack a selection of walking shoes and boots. About 30 per cent of New Zealand is protected land with public access, so there are plenty of tracks and trails to choose from. You can find your own way, or take advantage of the many guided hikes and tours. New Zealand offers a wide range of terrains: big city greenbelts, long deserted beaches, coastal cliff tops, lush native rainforests, open river valleys, alpine tussock grasslands, high country farmland and active volcanic areas. On overnight hikes you can either 'rough it', sleeping out in tents or in more than 1,000 communal hikers’ huts, or choose a trail that offers luxury lodge accommodation and gourmet meals. You will need to book ahead to walk the popular Milford or Routeburn tracks between late October and late April each year.
Paragliding is a blend of hang-gliding and parachuting. Sometimes you’re flying, sometimes you’re floating - it’s a feeling that’s exciting, peaceful and a little scary all at the same time. A tandem paraglide puts you in the capable hands of a professional paragliding pilot. It’s lets you experience the thrill of free flying without going through a lengthy learning process. There are almost no age or size limits for tandem paragliding. You can also hang-glide in tandem. Some operators offer a choice of both hill and tow-launching techniques. A tow-launched tandem flight is generally easier, because no running is required on landing, however hill-launched flights deliver the classic hang-gliding thrill. Paragliding and hang-gliding experiences can be found in Queenstown, Nelson, Hawke’s Bay, Christchurch and Auckland.
Cycling and Mountain Biking
On two wheels you can cover a lot of ground and still see, hear and smell the natural world around you. With paddocks of sheep, acres of vines, rivers, mountains, lakes, the ocean, ancient forests, steaming sulphurous cauldrons and boiling pools of mud, there’s always something happening just the other side of your sunglasses.Whether you’re cruising around a wine trail, exploring a coast road past beaches and seals or cross country cycling along a disused railway route, you can either plan it as you go or opt for a guided tour. Some tours will even carry your luggage or a non-cycling friend in their support vehicle.New Zealanders’ passion for mixing adrenalin with wilderness scenery means mountain biking trails are everywhere. The 42 Traverse in the Tongariro National Park is quietly becoming famous, and the relentless quest for the all-day downhill has seen a boom in alpine heli-biking.
In the 1980s, kiwi entrepreneurs AJ Hackett and Henry van Asch started the world's first commercial bungy operation, with a jump from the historic Kawarau Bridge near the South Island alpine resort of Queenstown. Since then, bungy jumping has become the thrill of choice for thousands of travellers. Operators around the country can help you to make the leap of faith from a variety of bridges, rail viaducts, specially constructed platforms and stadium roofs. There are various ways to personalise your jump - try partial immersion in water, a tandem jump or a night jump. New Zealand’s highest jump involves an awesome 134 metre plunge (440ft or 8 seconds of free fall) from a gondola suspended above a canyon. If you’re planning to jump for the first time, one seasoned jumper has this advice: "I think the secret to bungy jumping is to consciously blank your mind as you approach the moment of truth and not think at all until you're flying through the air. Don’t think, don't analyse, just jump".
Spelunkers (cavers) say that New Zealand has some of the most challenging and spectacular caving systems in the world. But you don’t have to be a seasoned spelunker to enjoy our underground scenery. Depending on your level of daring, a caving experience could be anything from a dreamy drift through a glow-worm grotto to a rip-roaring, rope-dangling, action-packed subterranean adventure. In the North Island the best known caving area is Waitomo in the Waikato region. There are caves that you can simply walk through; there are caves you can float through (this is called black water rafting); and there are caves that require abseiling, climbing and squeezing. Experienced operators here know how to turn you into a caver in a single day. The South Island has several caving areas - you’ll find guided underground adventures in Nelson, Fiordland and on the West Coast. Harwood’s Hole, just off the main Motueka-Takaka road in the Nelson region, is the deepest sinkhole in the southern hemisphere. You can look into it, but be careful you don’t fall in – it is 180 metres straight down.