New Zealand isn't called Adrenalin Junkie Heaven because it sounds cool, and it didn't get the title 'Adventure Capital of the World' from promoting sock darning classes – No Sir-eee, these monikers come from the layout of high mountains off which glaciers roll, vast craggy gorges and lakes, and wide open space that make the whole country seem like a giant's Adventure Playground. And extreme sports peeps can't help but heed the call.
Bungee jumping, in its modern form, was invented in New Zealand. So was black water rafting, but this playground is also known for extreme staples: jet boating, white water rafting, heli bungy, tandem parapenting, tandem skydiving, heliskiing, snowkiting, snowboarding, sand yachting, zorbing, sphere-ing, rock climbing and abseiling, canyoning, and more gentle pastimes, kayaking, cycling or mountain biking and trekking. Hard core adrenalin junkies will come to New Zealand to try all the thrills on offer, but most travellers will be satisfied with planning a trip of peaks and troughs: highs... and periods of levelling out before the next high. This South Island extreme adventure itinerary is an extremely scenic model to base your own extreme play around.
On the way past Punakiki to Franz Josef stop off at the Pancake Rocks, eroded rock formations that facilitate some very impressive ocean v. blowhole action, then spend a couple of days around the glacier cross county quad biking, ice climbing or rafting - or even heli-rafting - on the river.
The face of the Franz Joseph glacier is constantly changing, it's one of the world's only advancing glaciers – it can move up to 70cms a day - and the walk up to its icefields and icefells is though temperate rainforest, rising almost 2500m in under 12 kms. If the half day glacial hike up it, over its ice fields on the way, sounds a little easy, opt for the heli-hiking option – you do the work on the way up and then get lifted down over some spectacular scenes.
In winter Lake Wanaka is the ultimate snow sports destination, come on down skiers! cross country and otherwise, snowboarders! for the snow park and ice climbers. In summer it's time for fishing, swimming, boating and of course jet boating. Just out of town is the Cardrona Adventure Park where you can drive monster trucks etc.
Queenstown has more than once been referred to as 'the Adventure Capital of the Adventure Capital'. This town has the original commercial bungee jump, as well as one of the highest - if that's not high enough go skydiving! Or try something new and get catapulted about on the Shotover Canyon Swing - it's like a huge fairground ride - go high-wire-bungee-ing, try canyoning, or heli-mountain biking. There are a lot of sports that New Zealanders like to add the word 'heli' to the front of. In winter there's extreme wintersports to keep you entertained in Queenstown as well.
Milford Sound is close by if you prefer extreme watersports.
Climb Mt. Cook or heli-climb her – either way this snowy peak is a spectacular view – but for an even more extreme view skydive over her.
Surf, do the rapids at Rangitata Gorge, or recover....
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