New Zealand adventure holidays

Adrenalin rushes in New Zealand’s South Island

You might have come to New Zealand’s South Island for snowboarding and skiing in breathtaking locations. What you might not have realised is that you can spend just as much time off the slopes getting your pulse racing. Here are some of our favourite adrenlin rush activities in and around Queenstown, the “adventure capital of the world”.

Shotover Jet

This world famous jet boat ride is terrifying and exhilarating in equal measure. It also takes you through some stunning canyons and gorges on the Shotover River. The boats reach phenomenal speeds in what looks like mere centimetres of water, with a few 360-degree turns thrown in for added excitement. Other jet boats operate on the Dart River in Glenorchy.

New Zealand Family Adventure Holidays

Bungy jumping

AJ Hackett pioneered the art of tying ropes to your legs and launching yourself into the void more than 25 years ago, and it’s still going strong in the place it all started. The original bungy jump at Kawarau Gorge offers Queenstown’s only tandem bungy site.

About 45 minutes’ drive from Queenstown, the Nevis bungy is New Zealand’s highest bungy jump at 134 metres, giving those game enough to try it 8.5 seconds of free fall.

World’s Biggest Swing

AJ Hackett really has the monopoly on adventure activities in these parts, as the World’s Biggest Swing, also at Nevis, demonstrates (you can buy a combination ticket for swing and bungy). Suspended 160 metres above the river, you swing in a 300 metre arc on ropes 120 metres long. Tandem swings in all sorts of combinations are available.

New Zealand Family Adventure Holidays

White water rafting

White water rafting is the original adventure activity in these parts and the Kawarau and Shotover rivers are ideal environments for it. The Kawarau river, which starred as the River Anduin in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films, is suited to first time rafters and groups of mixed ability, and children from 13 years can give it a try. The Shotover River offers more challenging rapids.


The Kawarau zipride is probably the gentlest of the AJ Hackett adrenalin rush activities, and ideal for families as up to six people can fly at once, on three lines, suspended over the Kawarau River. It’s no walk int eh park; you’ll reach speeds of up to 60 kilometres per hour. Children as young as eight can experience the zipride, with an adult.

Learn to fly

Fly a Piper Cherokee over Lake Wanaka and the spectacular scenery of the Mt Aspiring National Park. During a short scenic flight you’ll take off, cruise and land the plane under the direction and watchful eye of instructor Peter Hendricks. And you’ll do it all yourself. The whole experience takes little more than half an hour, but the memories will last a lifetime. Hendricks also owns a couple of beautifully preserved vintage aircraft including a 1930s Waco and a 1940s Tigermoth for “flightseeing” experiences.

Skyline Luge

The Skyline Luge is kind of like go-carts on mountain sterioids. Take the Gondola up to Bob’sPeak behind Queenstown (Gondola and Luge packages are the most affordable way to buy tickets), gear up and get going. There is an easier course, that everyone has to ride initially, and a steeper, more curvy one for once you’ve got your luge legs. It’s great fun for kids and adults of all ages and single ride is never enough.

Heli skiing

Heli skiing and snowboarding is huge in New Zealand and gives access to significantly more terrain than the regular resorts alone. Although predominantly for advanced skiers and snowboarders, some operators offer packages for intermediates, and it’s more affordable (in skiing terms at least) than you might think. Southern Lakes Heliski boasts access to over 8,500 square kilometers of terrain, across 11 different mountain ranges and more than 600 runs.