5 Rare Adventure Sports To Try In New Zealand

The best way to discover the diverse landscape of New Zealand is to do so by engaging in adventure activities in New Zealand, customized, almost naturally, to the terrain. When we think of adventure sports in New Zealand, we think about skydiving, bungee jumping, or whitewater river rafting. But what if we said other adventure sports in New Zealand can be just as exciting and are yet to be discovered by the masses? In this article, we will take you on a journey across the Island of New Zealand, while discovering thrilling adventure sports such as speed riding, jet boating, swimming with dolphins, and others! 

Speed riding in New Zealand
Speed riding in New Zealand

Speed riding

Speed riding is not the most popular adventure sports in New Zealand, so what exactly is it? Let’s just say if paragliding and skydiving and skiing had a baby, it would be called speed riding. As the name suggests, the sport is used to descend heights like mountains or hills at tremendously high speeds.

The sport shoots you up with adrenaline as you dart down a mountain with the wind pushing your cheeks back. Even then, as long as you are a decent skier, then speed riding is a very accessible and safe activity, despite the sheer speeds.

If you continued reading after the last line, it’s safe to assume that speed riding is of interest to you. Technically speaking, speed riding uses a small, high-performance paraglider wing – which helps achieve the tremendous speed mentioned earlier.

During the Southern hemisphere’s winter period, there’s no better place to be than New Zealand to practice speed-riding. Broken River is a skifield, 2.5 hours away by road from Christchurch airport, and is sat alongside other club fields like Mt Hutt, Porters, Mt Cheesman, Temple Basin, and Craigieburn.

Glacier hiking in New Zealand
Glacier hiking in Mount Cook National Park, New Zealand

Glacier Hiking

Glacier Hiking is a known staple Summer activity in the Alps and Scandinavia. But few people know that NZ also boasts a number of splendid glaciers to hike in the South Island).

The beauty of glacier hiking is that even though you do it in the exact spot more than once, no two trips are the same. The ever-changing nature of ice adds something new to the glacier, marking the difference. Dramatic winding canyons and crevasses that punctuate the ice floor are characteristic and interesting features to discover for yourself.

Hiking on glaciers is not as straight forward as it sounds. In fact, it is a complex activity, requiring a very specific set of skills and equipment. Essentially, your skills come into play while using equipment like crampons (shoes with big spikes at the bottom that prevent you from slipping on the ice), ice axe, helmets, gloves, and more. Your first time should be with a seasoned group or a mountain guide for a safer experience.

Jet boating in New Zealand
Jet boating in New Zealand

Jet Boating

If there’s one adventure sport that the Kiwis can proudly boast about – it’s Jet Boating! The outdoor activity was invented by an engineer from New Zealand named Sir Charles William Feilden Hamilton in the year 1950.

Unlike a powerboat or motorboat, a jetboat draws water from the lake or river it’s in and uses that to propel itself by expelling the water from a nozzle. It was invented to go uphill in rivers, which were too shallow in the first place. Jet boating is more of an adventurous experience rather than a sport for most people, given that there’s a higher chance that you’re a passenger and not the driver.

Nevertheless, you can feel the adrenaline coursing through your veins as your boat clashes stubbornly and rapidly against small but aggressive waves. Going as fast as 100 PMPH, your vision gets blurry while, your senses are heightened, making this activity a paradoxical delight.

The island of New Zealand is littered by rivers, lakes, and other water bodies for you to try jet boating. The Shotover River in Queenstown, The Upper Waiau River in Te Anau, Huka Falls in Taupo, Lake Rotorua, Waimakariri River in Christchurch, Waiau River in Hanmer Springs, Clutha River in Wanaka and Dart River in Glenorchy.

Swimming with dolphins in New Zealand
Swimming with dolphins in New Zealand

Swimming with Dolphins

There’s a reason why dolphins are considered man’s best friend in the sea. Dolphins are one of the most social, joyful, and happy beings around and you can take a dip with them. If you have any concerns or apprehensions about taking a plunge in the sea with a bunch of dolphins, that’s normal – we realize how crazy it sounds. But don’t worry because a professional instructor will swim next to you and will have your back covered.

Swim with dolphins in Kaikoura: The coastal town of Kaikoura in the South Island of New Zealand is a bit of a hub when it comes to marine wildlife. Sperm whales, seals, and dolphins make up some of the marine population in Kaikoura, allowing humans to interact with these friendly mammals. Kaikoura is located 2.5 hours North of Christchurch via State Highway 1.

Swim with dolphins in Tauranga: Tauranga is a small town on the North Island of New Zealand, facing the Bay of Plenty, and is another spot for you to swim with dolphins. The Bay of Plenty is home to whales, orcas, and dolphins too. Driving down from Auckland on State Highway 2 will take you 2 hours and 40 minutes to reach Tauranga, making the town very accessible.

Swim with dolphins in Akaroa: Just 90 minutes out of Christchurch, the small coastal town of Akaroa is characterized by green rolling hills and golden sandy bays. The breathtaking scenery makes it the ideal spot to observe marine wildlife in New Zealand. Expect to swim in parts of the harbor that are sheltered by ancient volcanic cliffs and filled with beautiful Pacific Ocean marine life like penguins, herons, and local Pukeko bird. 

View from a scenic flight in Milford Sound, Queenstown
View from a scenic flight in Milford Sound, Queenstown

Scenic Flights

Just to make it clear, going for scenic flight activities in New Zealand doesn’t require you to have a pilot’s license. Exploring the breathtaking landscape of New Zealand requires an appropriate vantage point and a passenger’s seat in an airplane is exactly that – after all this the country where they shot the spectacular: Lord of the Rings! Even though there’s a variety of scenic flights you can take, we have carefully curated a diverse list of scenic flights which includes fjords, marine wildlife, and a spectacular mountain range!

View of Mount Cook from an airplane in New Zealand
View of Mount Cook from an airplane in New Zealand
  • Scenic flight near Mount Cook: Where do you even start with the dramatic topography of New Zealand? Probably from the top – the highest mountain peak in New Zealand – Mount Cook. Breathtaking views around Mt Cook (12,349 ft), and the Tasman Glacier – the longest glacier in New Zealand in an airplane. You will then fly by the main divide to the West Coast for more stunning views with the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers. Lastly, you will circle back onto the eastern side of the Southern Alps into the Hooker Valley before returning into the Tasman Valley to land back where you started.
Whale watching view from a flight in Kaikoura
Whale watching view from a flight in Kaikoura
  • Whale watching in Kaikoura: For those of you who have gone whale watching in cruise ships, observing whales from the sky gives you a POV like never before. A bird’s eye view of whales makes you realise just how big these amazing creatures really are. What’s more is that if you’re lucky, you can even feast your eyes on some dolphins and will have an opportunity to take clear pictures for memories worth a lifetime.
View of Milford Sound from the flight
View of Milford Sound from the flight
  • Scenic flight to Milford Son: The spectacular fiord is located on the South Island of New Zealand, 3 hours away from Queensland by road. Milford Sound is considered to be the 8th Natural Wonder of the World – need we say more? It’s known for its towering Mitre Peak and Jurassic rainforests, home the country’s national bird – the Kiwi. The protected waterways are rich in marine life like seals, penguins, and dolphins – along with a form of rare black coral. You will start by going past Cardrona Valley, the Dart Valley and Glenorchy before you pass by Stirling and Bowen falls, the Mitre peaks and the Southern Alps! It’s a lot to wrap your head around but you’ll have plenty of time to take pictures.

The list of outdoor activities in New Zealand does not stop here! Whitewater river rafting, skydiving, and even bungee jumping are sports that can be enjoyed on the islands of New Zealand.