Calling All Thrill-Seekers
(New Zealand’s North Island)
New Zealand has a well-deserved reputation for adventure tourism. It would take weeks and large sums of $$ to try all the action-packed experiences this country has to offer. Most adrenaline junkie posts I read are young travelers off for a year abroad and good on them for living life. I am here to tell you that people of all ages can enjoy New Zealand’s thrilling side. This is my list of 5 things that made some of my family and friends say “nope” brought to you by a momma of two.
5 Action-Packed Bucket List Experiences
1. Huka Falls Jet zooms down the Waikato River at a maximum of 80 kilometers per hour. The experienced drivers cut frequent 360 degree turns and weave between trees all while accelerating. The jet reaches the base of the powerful Huka Falls allowing time for photos before the return trip with more speed and spins.
The full experience concludes after 30 minutes by returning to the departure dock. There is no shame if your legs are a bit shaky exiting the boat. Here you can purchase photos and video playback for souvenirs.
The tour begins at the Ruakuri Cave in New Zealand’s famous Waitomo glow-worm region. Do not panic if you have never repelled. The trained guides help you to practice and are there at the bottom to encourage and assist newbies like me. The 30 meter repel seemed to be over in flash and we were off tramping through the cave.
Next up is a flying fox (or zip-lining for my American friends) in complete darkness and then it’s time to plunge into the water. The black water tubing requires jumping off a ledge onto a small donut-shaped float and pulling yourself upstream. The guides instruct everyone to rest your legs on the neighbor’s tube and float downstream under the light of the glow worms. Lots of silly pictures, snacks and rest breaks are included along the way. The final challenge involves climbing two small waterfalls before emerging from the cave.
3. Kaituna River White Water Rafting tour earns its bragging rights by being the highest commercially rafted waterfall in the World.
This excursion begins with mild rapids allowing time for the tour guides to cover instructional signals. The slow pace gradually accelerates and then it is time to take on the 1st and smallest waterfall at 1 meter. The raft moves immediately into the 3 meter drop where our tour guide squashed me. The rafts pull off to the side to discuss what to do during the 7 meter drop.
The anticipation built as we waited for the other two rafts to clear. The guide did not help by suggesting 1/3 of the rafts flip. We watched each raft in front of us go under the water and come up with all the passengers. The odds were not in our favor and we all took a swim!
The fun is not over after the final waterfall. There are breaks where we “surfed” the rapids, jumped off rocks and floated on our backs downstream.
4. Taupo Bungy Jump – The top of my bucket list consisted of a bungy jump and Taupo’s experience does not disappoint. This is the highest water touch bungy in New Zealand and all while being surrounded by beautiful scenery.
The staff take correct weight measurements and then send you out to what I like to call “the plank”. Here you are secured to the platform while they attach the bungy cord to your legs. WIthin a few minutes you are nervously smiling at the camera before a 3..2..1.. countdown.
I raised my arms, jumped straight out and began the free fall. It did not hurt at all when the cord snapped me back up but maybe it was the adrenaline rush. The cord bounced me up and down a few times before lowering to the boat below. They dropped me off and I followed the path to the top where my husband and kids were waiting. The many observers commented on the fact I did not scream. Time to pick out a t-shirt and get my certificate. My shirt says “the closer you are to death, the more alive you feel” by James Hunt. I wear it with pride!
5. Rotorua Canopy Zip-Line Tour happens in the heart of New Zealand’s native forest. The adventure begins with a quick 10 minute van ride from the admission office following equipment distribution. A short bush walk with stops to point out trees and plants brings you to the 1st platform for instructions.
We enjoyed 6 separate zips and 2 suspension bridges during the outing. The scenery from the massive trees made for breathtaking views with the tallest platform measuring at 22 meters in the air and featuring an 800 year old tree.
Listen carefully and you can hear some of New Zealand’s birds alive and well in the forest thanks to the conservation efforts. My 8-year-old daughter accompanied me and claimed this was her favorite zip-lining experience so far (she’s had 3).
The tour guides take care of all your security which includes hooking you on and braking on the opposite side. The staff make it easy to simply step off the platform and enjoy the view. Those brave enough can even hang upside down on the last one!
Complete Bucket List Experiences
- Huka Falls Fast Jet
- Black Abyss Tour
- Kaituna White Water Rafting
- Taupo Bungy Jump
- Rotorua Canopy Tour