A tectonic string of islands on the Pacific Ring of Fire, New Zealand is made up of two main islands off the coast of Australia. With a volcanic past that created its undulating mountain ranges and frozen glaciers, New Zealand has three main extreme sports capitals in Auckland, Queenstown, and Wellington. A land of endless outdoor activities, at Adrenaline Hunter we’ve listed over 254 and counting! Sure, it’s renowned for its Middle Earth silver screen fame and the cute national bird, but New Zealand’s reputation within the extreme sports community is legendary. In this list, we will talk you through top spots for popular activities in New Zealand – across all four elements.
Coined ‘the adventure capital of New Zealand’, it was an easy decision to include Queenstown in our list of top spots for popular activities in New Zealand. A coastal town on South Island situated by Lake Wakatipu and shadowed by the infamous Southern Alps, its stunning vistas, challenging terrain, and sporting spirit make it a must-see for any adventure nomad.
A town of four seasons, winter in the Southern Hemisphere is the perfect time to try out Queenstown’s epic winter sports. With four internationally renowned ski resorts at your doorstep, The Remarkables and Coronet Peak boast some of the best black runs and backcountry skiing in the country – along with snowshoeing, ice climbing, and mountaineering, plus the pistes stay open in summer for downhill MTB enthusiasts, too. If you’d like to go heli-skiing in Queenstown, make sure you visit our website for booking information.
If you couldn’t fit your crampons in your carry case, why not head to the world’s very first bungee jumping site in Kawarau? Better yet, take to the skies with a skydiving experience over the city for added thrill factor! The list continues, from zip-lining to paragliding, white water rafting to speedboating – Queenstown has something to cater for everyone. A mecca for MTB to heliski, drop from the skies, or speed up the waterways of the Dart river – all within driving distance from the city center.
In the foothills of a dormant volcano, Auckland on North Island might be the most populated of the two, but the City of Sails got its name for a good reason. A sailing hotspot for all things fun, its ocean is packed with different kiting and sailing opportunities – whilst is modern skyline boasts one of the scariest skies walks in the world! Take a look at some of our best activities to try in Auckland:
– The Sky Walk is suspended 192 m above the ground on the exterior of the Sky Tower, drink in 360 ° views of the city, and look down – if you dare!
– Try surfing on Muriwai beach! It’s never too late to learn to surf, so why not give it a go in one of the most beautiful locations in the world. Popular on the NZ coastline and favored by their Aussie neighbors, once you’ve nailed your standing series you’re ready to practice your technique at surf schools.
– Scuba diving & freediving on Goat Island. A nature lover’s paradise, snorkeling on Goat Island is an ancestral Maori landing ground and now serves as a marine and bird sanctuary. Head out to sea and explore the tropical forests for sights of colorful fish, stingrays, and even local dolphins if you’re lucky!
So how come Rotorua makes the list of top spots for popular activities in New Zealand? Speaking to the island’s tectonic location on the Pacific Ring of Fire, Rotorua is renowned for its hot springs and explosive geysers. Home to the Te Puia Arts & Crafts Institute, retrace the history and culture of the Maori before heading out for a jet boating tout to Mokoia Island or a rafting excursion on the Kaituna River – an extreme waterway that boats the highest rafted waterfall in the world, at 7m height, expect to get wet!
Situated in the center of North Island, 84km from Rotorua, Taupo is distinguished by its beautiful lakes, dormant volcanoes, and a variety of outdoor sports. A stunning meltwater caldera that runs from the Huka Falls into a vast turquoise lake, Taupo is just as beautiful on the water as it is when exploring its surroundings by bike or foot. Surrounded by hot springs in the Geothermal area called ‘Craters of the Moon’, this stunning location is the perfect place to try riverboarding as you race down the waterway with a float – or for those of you looking to test your technique – why not try fun boating or kayaking.
Part of Otago (65km from Queenstown), Wanaka on New Zealand’s South Island is in the foothills of Mount Aspiring National Park. A coastal town with endless outdoor activities to try throughout the seasons – we’ve already listed over 100 activities in Wanaka – which means heading to Wanaka guarantees you’ll be spoilt for choice.
Situated on New Zealand’s North Island at the heart of Egmont National Park, Mount Taranaki sits at 2,518m in the clouds. Considered one of the most symmetrical volcanoes in the world, its steep inclines and stunning views saw it reach no.2 in the Lonely Planet must-visit list. Try trekking around the crater’s rim on a 19km altitude hike for jaw-dropping views across the island. Along with its epic highs, Taranaki is also pumping at sea level, too – with the best beach break on 45 Surf Highway (also see Kumara Patch, Back Beach, Fitzroy Beach, Puniho, Waiwhakaiho, Arawhata Road, and Stent Road)
48km from Hamilton in the Waikato region on the North Island, surfing in Raglan is the pride of the locality. Check out the clip below if you don’t believe us! There are also lots of different sports to try while in Raglan too, like caving in the Waitomo caves (St Benedict, TumuTumu, and Haggas Honking Holes) only an hour from Raglan. Abseil into the mouth of a giant Jurassic cave, explore the blue canopy of bioluminescence under the glow of torchlight, and listen to the faint sound of stalagmites dripping water to form architectural columns.
Abel Tasman is on the Northwest point of New Zealand’s South Island. A place where kayaking and canyoning are king , head out into the national park and explore the magnificent granite canyons in the dense temperate rainforest. The perfect place to test your technique or try out the sport for the first time, the highlight of canyoning in Abel Tasman has to be Cleopatra’s Pool.
Another top spot is the coastal kayaking route from Anchorage to Kaiteriter that’s blessed with beautiful lagoons near Adele Island that’s populated by a curious colony of seals that love sunbathing along the shore…
Not far from Kaikoura, Hanmer Springs is the perfect R&R destination on New Zealand’s South Island. A favorite spot for a little rest and relaxation, its hot springs and long hiking trails in the neighboring mountains make it the ideal chilled spot for some spa treatments and long walks in the countryside. Try kayaking, horse riding, walking, scenic helicopter tours, canyoning, bungee jumping, speed boating, and rafting on the Wait river… Well, after trying all that, you probably deserve a spa day!
A 4.5-hour drive, North of Queenstown on State Highway 6 will take you to one of the most serene locations in New Zealand. Situated on the West coast of the South Island of New Zealand, Franz Josef has a population of roughly 500 people. The landscape in and around this small town makes it a must on this list. The Franz Josef Glacier is the stand out tourist attraction and makes a bunch of outdoor activities accessible for adventure seekers.
Heli flights, are one of the most appropriate activities to explore Franz Josef, as it gives you a different perspective on an already spectacular location. Other classic activities include tandem skydive, glacier hiking, and sea kayaking. Participants can expect to look up to the mammoth Mount Cook either from the ground or lock eyes with it, from the sky – depending on the activity you pick. Either way, it’s the snow-clad peak, surrounded by smoke-like, white clouds, is an unforgettable spectacle.
The Southern Alpine is the backdrop when you go kayaking in Lake Mapourika and the Okarito Kiwi Sanctuary, which is a 7-minute drive from Franz Josef. Kayaking in the pristine blue water of these lakes is probably one of the most relaxing things you could ever do. If you’d like to crank it up a notch when it comes to relaxing, be sure to take a fishing trip, which will surely help you unwind.
Big fans of the road less traveled when it comes to action sports locations here at Adrenaline Hunter, there are still top spots for popular activities in New Zealand – like Mt. Cook, Milford Sound, etc. that definitely shouldn’t be missed. So if you’re pumped to find fresh powder, bungee jump from famous bridges, or hike to the top of mountains buy a ticket to New Zealand – we guarantee you’ll never look back!
- If you’d like to check out all our amazing popular activities in New Zealand, please click the provided link.
- If you’d like to read about the top 7 rivers to go rafting in New Zealand, please click the provided link.
- If you’d like to read about 7 unique bungee jumps in New Zealand, please click the provided link.
- If you’d like to read about the top 10 skydiving spots in New Zealand, please click the provided link.