Adventure Sport - back

Adventure activities in New Zealand come in many shapes, sizes and types. You could be soaring in a hot air balloon or crawling through ancient limestone caves. Maybe an unclimbed rock face or good surfing beach are your scene. Whatever, this page is for you.

New Zealand's island character gives the country a maritime climate. "Crowded House" alluded to it in their song, "Four Seasons in One Day". The weather has gone a long way to shaping this country and its wonderful terrain. If you're adventuring without the aid of a professional company, check on the state of the weather (NZ Herald) and find some local knowledge on your proposed trip. If in doubt don't go out; find some other activity elsewhere.

A lot of the providers of adventure activities will endeavour to teach you some knowledge as you go. A little knowledge can be very dangerous when applied in the absence of experienced guides or friends. Have a good idea of your skill level and knowledge. If you're going out independently always let someone you trust know where you're going, when you're coming back and what you're doing. It's generally more fun and safer to play with others. Mates that play together stay together.

Responsible providers of adventure activities are required to maintain their equipment to the appropriate standards. This is generally because it's integral to the enjoyment and safety of the activity. You can make things easier for yourself by having the appropriate clothing. A full set of polyprop leggings and tops, a Polarfleece jumper, waterproof jacket and trousers, swim shorts, a warm hat, socks, suncream and sunglasses will go a long way to helping you stay comfortable in most conditions. More specialist equipment should be provided by the company you're using. If you're looking to buy specialist equipment in New Zealand, there are not many shops with Internet capability. Try using the yellowpages, or contacting the nearest professional provider of your chosen pursuit to see who they'd recommend. Look after your equipment and it will look after you.

For the super-safety conscious contact the New Zealand Alpine Club. For some specialist insurance policies or see what the New Zealand government will cover you for at http://www.acc.co.nz.

So what can you do in New Zealand?

There is much to see when diving here, especially around the Bay of Islands and the Marlborough Sounds. For some political intrigue why not dive on the Rainbow Warrior, sunk just off Matauri Bay. However the top dive spot is undoubtedly the Poor Knights Marine reserve. It offers an amazing array of reef fish and is the breeding ground for many sea creatures including the stingray.

Jet boating would probably have to be the petrol heads' adventure activity of choice with plenty of operators to choose from around Queenstown. In the North Island the hi-octane fun centres around Taupo.

Horse trekking is a popular pastime in rural New Zealand and once you get in amongst it you can see why horses were so heavily used in the exploration and development of this country. North Canterbury and Nelson would be two prime locations for long or short trips.

Mountain biking offers many options, the single track parks in Rotorua and Auckland are second to none or you could go touring on the Central Otago Rail Trail.

Rock climbers have lots of possibilities. You could cut your teeth around Taupo and progress to the Mt Cook National Park or the fearsome sport climbing routes around Christchurch. Indoor climbing walls are becoming increasingly popular and provide an engaging activity for kids.

Sailing is one activity Kiwis love to do and if our performance in the last few Americas Cup regattas is anything to go by, we must be pretty good. It's not hard to see why when you consider the winds of Wellington and the challenging conditions around the Hauraki islands, all the way up to the Bay of Islands. Both areas are populated by many boaties.

Sea kayaking Why walk when you can paddle. With the space to carry all your favorite foods, lots of warm clothes, a big tent and a wee dram or two, it's a wonder more people don't partake of this fantastic sport. Check out the sea Kayaking action in the Bay of Islands, the Hauraki Gulf and the little slice of paradise around Nelson and the Marlborough Sounds.

Skiing has enjoyed a resurgence in recent years with the advent of carving skis and the introduction of very cheap season passes (equivalent to approx. 7 or so days of skiing to break even) if you buy early enough. Canterbury has more skifields than you could ski in a two-week break. If you're more adventurous try the club fields around Arthur's Pass. For those feeling rich and adventurous there's Heliskiing around Wanaka and Queenstown as well as downhill and crosscountry fields. In the North Island the mighty Ruapehu, near Ohakune and National Park should not be missed, especially if you're there in spring.

Skydiving and bungy jumping often vie for the same customers; exponents of each will insist theirs is the ultimate rush. Why not try both? Queenstown is the home of Bungy jumping and as for Skydiving it'd be hard to beat freefalling over the Franz Joseph or Fox Glaciers. In the north you can skydive above volcanoes around Taupo.

Surfing is good in New Zealand. Possibly not as warm as Hawaii but if you're keen you can learn the skills to ride with the big boys and girls. Local legend Maz Quinn has recently made it onto the surfing World Tour; check out his stomping ground in Gisborne. Raglan has possibly the best and most accessible point break in the country. For the warmer blooded, Dunedin can produce some testing waves.

Windsurfing should be more popular in this country. The nuclear winds of Wellington and the countless bays in and around Auckland mean it's always easy to find a stretch of water to blast on. Windsurfing around New Plymouth is great if you're into wavesailing. With so many beaches facing in so many directions it's almost always possible to get a cross-shore wind.

Whitewater kayaking and Rafting are popular in a number of places, particularly Rotorua and Queenstown. As this sport grows in popularity more and more rivers are being discovered and used. The South Island's west coast gets a lot of rain and consequently has some very exciting rivers. Murchison would arguably be the whitewater capital of New Zealand with some fourteen rivers or sections within approx. half an hour's drive.

So what's stopping you?! Have a go. You might surprise yourself.