White Knuckle Rides

New Zealand has a justifiable claim to be the destination for adventure sports activities. Regardless of where you are in the country you are never far from adventure, especially around Queenstown, the self-styled adrenalin sports capital of the world.

Among the most popular activities are:

Bungy Jumping

New Zealand is the home of bungy jumping and opportunities to ‘have a go' are plentiful. Despite its daredevil reputation it's one of the safest adrenalin sports. Operators are well organised and take every precaution to keep you safe. Best places to jump are in Queenstown around the Kawarau and Shotover rivers (jump from 43m and 102m respectively) or the dizzy Nevis Highwire (134m). On the North Island jump into the Waikato river near Taupo (45m) or at Mangaweka (80m).

See Also: Twenty years of bungy jumping - interview with AJ Hackett

Tandem Skydiving

Tandem skydiving is increasingly popular, especially in the more scenic areas around the Southern Alps and Fjordland. Harnessed to your instructor who controls your descent, enjoy an adrenalin rush for 45 seconds as you hurtle to the ground from over 2,500m. The chute then opens (perhaps along with your eyes!) to provide you with spectacular views as you drift gently down. Skydiving hotspots include Taupo, Napier and Pahia on the North Island, and around Queenstown in the South - but in fact anywhere with an airstrip and a view will offer a jump.

White water rafting

Undoubtedly the most thrilling, and potentially most dangerous, activity on offer in New Zealand. There is no end of exhilarating rides to be had down rivers of varying degrees of wildness. Rivers are graded according to difficulty so it is easy to choose one that matches your ability and desire for thrills. The season generally runs from October to May with main centres near Rotorua in the North Island and Canterbury and Queenstown in the South.

Jetboating

These fast boats operate in just a few inches of water and their highly skilled drivers delight in getting within a hair's width of canyon walls and large rocks as they hurtle along at 80kmh. With instant braking they perform amazing 360 degree turns on a pinhead. Amongst the most famous operators is The Shotover Jet in Queenstown, which guarantees thrills galore as it hurtles passengers through a narrow canyon. Longer trips into the wilderness are available on rivers like the Dart.

Underground Thrills

Opportunities to go caving are plentiful - head to Nelson or Waitomo for the best spots. The more adventurous trips for the amateur involve black water rafting, an underground version of white water rafting with a little climbing and scrabbling around thrown in. For the ultimate caving experience the Lost World trip in Waitomo is simply unbeatable. Starting with a 100m abseil into the cave a guided 3-hour underground journey will involve you walking, climbing, wading and swimming - no experience necessary and subterranean lunch included!

See Also: Bulmer Cavern - New Zealand's longest cave system