New Zealand. Land of the haka and the silver fern and ‘Kia Ora!’ An adrenaline junkie’s dream and one of my favourite travel destinations.
In January 2010, I was busing around New Zealand with International Student Volunteers (ISV). We’d spent two weeks doing conservation work (read: weeding) at the Waikato catchment near Hamilton and now it was time to kick off the highly anticipated two weeks of adventure travel. For anyone interested in visiting the other land Down Under, here are some of the highlights:
Black Water Rafting – Waitomo Caves
After suiting up in a rather unflattering wetsuit and abseiling 35 metres down into the Ruakari Cave, I was already high with excitement. Just the name ‘black water rafting’ sounded so adventurous. I wasn’t disappointed. It’s not every day that you get to abseil down into a gigantic cave, jump into freezing water, drift through underwater channels on tubes and marvel at colonies of tiny glow worms. Just take my advice and don’t watch the movie The Descent before you go.
Glacier Hiking – Franz Josef Glacier
Certainly not for the couch potatoes, hiking on the spectacular Franz Josef glacier is both challenging and awe-inspiring. Our hike began with a long walk through the Waiho Valley to the base of the glacier. We then strapped on our crampons (spiked footwear devices) and began the long ascent, passing through ice caves and crevasses. When I wasn’t complaining about the blisters on my feet (be sure to pack band-aids), I was marvelling at the beautiful and unique landscape. Don’t, like me, forget to charge your camera; the views at the top are stunning.
Bungee Jumping – Queenstown
It may not be the world’s highest bungee jump (it’s third), but at 134 metres, the Nevis Highwire Platform is nothing to sneeze at. One of the long-anticipated features of the tour, many of us feigned bravery and put our hands up to take the big jump. Or fall in my case. As I was prepped for the jump, I remember being in an absolute daze. There is nothing like the mixture of fear and adrenaline that comes before a bungee jump. Of course when it was over, it was soon heralded as the best thing ever!
Zorbing – Rotorua
A perennial favourite of travel blogs, zorbing is no longer a new fad. Who hasn’t heard of rolling down a hill in a water-filled plastic orb? Not in the least terrifying, zorbing is extremely fun but also short-lived. It will feel like you’ve been in the zorb for a matter of seconds before you re-live the birthing experience and get plopped out.
White Water Rafting – The Kaituna River, Rotorua
I’m not going to lie and say I wasn’t extremely nervous going into our white water rafting activity. The Kaituna River is classified as a five grade river (the most powerful) and features a seven metre waterfall. Plus, even with a tour guide, everyone in the raft has an important role to play in order to keep the raft upright and on course. No pressure! When it came to it, my terror fast became exhilaration and apart from one moment when I thought I was going to die, the white water rafting was pretty fun.
So there you have just some of the activities to experience during your time in New Zealand. If you like getting out and doing new things, this is undoubtedly the place for you. Just be prepared to push yourself and pack a clean pair of underwear wherever you go!