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Top 12 adrenaline adventures in New Zealand

  • 4 minutes

Milford Sound, New Zealand

Places to go and what to expect

Adventure is what the country does best. Those mountains, the surging white rivers and the culture of ‘give it a go’ mean New Zealand delivers your next excitement. Bungy jump and blow your mind as you pivot and jump off a great height with a rubber band around your ankles. Places to go rafting are numerous. Test your paddling skills in a river that roars over massive boulders in a white foaming torrent. Whip over river boulders with centimetres to spare as you jet boat in the wilderness or zipline past towering redwoods in the tree canopy.

Explore marine worlds, snorkelling, diving and swimming sunken wrecks, submarine caves and tunnels and marine reefs. This article is part of New Zealand definitive travel guide.


Check out family-friendly top things to do in New Zealand for entertainment inspiration for the kids.


The sport that has kiwi spirit written all over the world. AJ Hacket and Henry Van Asch kiwi entrepreneurs, original adventurers, jumped off the Kawarau Bridge in 1988 and the rest is history. Bungy jumping, take your pick of places from Auckland Harbour Bridge, Auckland sky tower, Taupo   and Queenstown. A must-go original New Zealand adventure.


The adventure begins with an abseil. Drop 27 metres underground. Light changes, refracts and splinters into pops of light from head torches. Catch glimpses of plants and weird rock forms as you descend.Experience Waitomo blackwater rafting downstream floating through caverns filled with starry pinpricks of light from glow worms. Then it’s about scrambling over rocks, waterfalls and floating on inner tyre tubes with the promise of a hot shower and snacks as you recall your adventure.


You could safely wade in 300mm depth. Yet the jet boat rapidly tilts and spins in clear water. Try out a New Zealand invention in the rivers contributing to its origin. Your hair is flattened, your eyes are streaming as you whip through the surging water and it’s thrilling. Taupo’s River Jet has the challenging Huka falls to offer visitors with the thunder of the massive waterfalls singing in your ears. There are jet boat rides throughout the country with plenty of activities and attractions.

@Braided River Jet boating
@Braided River Jet boating
  • Check the ride length (how much time is actually on the water?)
  • Are there any interesting extras as part of the trip, for instance Dart River Adventures kayaking options lead to a leisurely exploration of Te Wāhipounamu South West New Zealand UNESCO World Heritage Area (Fiordland)
  • Wear goggles or sunglasses to protect the eyes from the high pressure effect of the wind as you whip around and over river boulders
  • It’s a rite of passage for New Zealand visitors, give it a go

White water rafting, kayaking, … take your pick. Your family could be taking a leisurely walk while you are screaming in delight as you barrel down New Zealand’s natural water world. For the occasional white water adrenaline thrill the experience is not cheap or free. However it is absolutely guaranteed fun and joy as it swirls into a shared journey, through the roar of a river. For families on a budget there are activities around the rafting experience that are free, nature doesn’t charge for walks or cycle trails.


TOP-6 white water rafting NZ spots, adrenaline holiday fun: Best Bits

Rotorua Rafting Kaituna Cascades, Rotorua, New Zealand
Rotorua Rafting Kaituna Cascades


West Coast magic with Underwater Adventures in Charleston within Paparoa National Park is a must-do for dedicated adventurers. Dip your toes into the world of adventure with the award winning caving family who are passionate about their slice of natural wilderness on the wild West Coast of New Zealand.


Zip your way through massive towering redwoods in Rotorua. Glimpse the Hauraki Gulf on EcoZip Adventures Waiheke Island as you zip past vineyards and native bush on Waiheke Island. Rotorua spoils visitors with twilight ziplining with massive redwoods twinkling under the lights. Queenstown has the Remarkables mountain range as a handy backdrop.

Skydiving adventure over Queenstown, South Island, New Zealand
Skydiving adventure over Queenstown

Jump. You are first out the plane door as the tandem dive commences. Float assured as your safety harness and instructor create effortless joy. Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown offers views of the lake and Remarkable mountain peaks, Parakai in Auckland sweeps over the Kaipara harbour and Lake Taupo has the glorious showstopper Lake Taupo as a stunning location.


Raglan Rock participants leap off waterfalls, slide down rock slides into pools and abseil over rock faces into deep quiet pools. The remote mountain locations are breathtaking with Raglan, Waitako a great day trip from Auckland. Raglan Rock has expanded its operations to offer caving and rock climbing. Give them a go, as the rock team states, ‘Get your heart rate up.’ The Coromandel has Canyonz Adventures is a premier adventure operator offering experienced climbers guided canyoning trips through some of the most beautiful landscapes in Thames, New Zealand has to offer. Find your inner mountaineer spirit and give canyoning a go.

a man is ready for skiing in front of a half pipe, New Zealand

Glacier Country gives adventures pure adrenaline thrills on natural snow fields where the power is fresh. The heli-ski is about creating your own downhill track as your guide indicates the best route down the mountain.


Buckle up and grab the support as you traverse back country roads and trails carved out by pre-European Maori, gold prospectors and agricultural settlers. Key destinations in New Zealand for authentic off-road experiences are the high country in Canterbury, the alpine terrain of Otago and the Central Plateau in the North Island. For a change of scenery go off-road on stupendously massive sand dunes on Ninety Mile Beach, Northland.

Te Paki stream entrance to Ninety Mile Beach, Northland, New Zealand
Te Paki stream entrance to Ninety Mile Beach
Family Sea kayaking off Kaikoura, New Zealand

Dial down the adrenaline and adventure at a slower pace where paddle power dominates. From Paparoa National Park paddle past weathered sandstone cliffs or sea kayak in the Marlborough Sounds. Kayaking is part of the kiwi summer holiday experience from the local river to nearby lakes. One of the quirky things to do is to kayak in a clear plastic kayak around Goat Island Marine Reserve, now that’s a great idea for a day trip from Auckland to Leigh and check out Clearyak.


Remote, beautiful underwater world considered one of the world’s top ten diving destinations, Poor Knights Island is part of the Tutukaka coastline with Dive Tutukaka, one of the original dive tour operators in New Zealand and passionate supporters of Aotearoa New Zealand’s marine world. Dive Tutukaka offers eco cruises to Poor Knight Island exploring Riko Riko Cave (world’s largest sea cave). This is a great option for visitors who are not interested in getting their toes wet diving. Tour operators will entertain guests with snippets of local history and facts about Poor Knights.

Poor Knights Island sea cave diving experience, New Zealand
Poor Knights Island sea cave diving


Best Bits travel guide is published by Owned and managed by PacificJane Ltd.


Our editors independently visit tour operators, purchase tickets, pay for accommodation, and rate products and places. We are not paid to go on a tour or visit a place. We only make money if you decide to purchase a product through our website links. We promise to never accept free products from manufacturers in return for boosting their products. Read more about our affiliate programme in the terms and conditions HERE.

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