Nature & Adventure At Its Best in New Zealand

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In New Zealand, trail maps, guardrails and souvenir shops are not associated with outdoor excursions like they are in other countries. With so few people and so much land, adventures are treated as normal events, and adrenaline considered a daily hormone.

Bungee Jumping. A suspension bridge over the Kawarau River marks the world home of bungee (bungy) jumping: the place where, in 1988, adventurists AJ Hackett and Henry van Asch leapt off a platform, attached only with an elastic rope. Now, their enterprise has spanned the globe, with six different bungee experiences in New Zealand alone. Plummet over a ravine from the Nevis, or slide off the Auckland Bridge. AJ Hackett is the oldest and safest name in bungee, and New Zealand provides some stunning scenery to accompany your jump.

AJ Hackett Bungy, New Zealand

Glacier Climbing. Trained guides lead visitors up the Fox and Fran Josef glaciers, safeguarding both the ice field and their climbing groups. Located on the South Island’s western coast, the Fox and Fran Josef glaciers are among the steepest commercially-guided glaciers in the world. With crampons and pick, climbers carve their way along the solid, snowy mountains and consider the glacial movements that shaped the country’s unusual landscape.

Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand

Trekking Along The Milford Track. Of all the long-distance hiking trails in New Zealand, the track between Sandfly Point and Glade Wharf, in Milford National Park, is touted as the country’s greatest. Milford Sound is considered the eighth natural wonder of the world, so interested hikers should plan and book ahead of time to reserve a spot and beat the crowds. The trail can take several days to walk, but hikers can stay in huts placed strategically along the route by the Department of Conservation. In all this untouched fauna, you might just spot an elusive kiwi bird.

Sandboarding. Like the scene from a science fiction movie, the Te Paki sand dunes seem to grow out of nowhere. One moment you are driving through the woods, and the next moment, these giant golden mounds block off the horizon. Rent a board from one of the neighboring stores or resident houses, and start climbing. It may take 30 minutes to reach the top — but the sense of isolation and victory, plus the jolt of speed-adrenaline from sliding down these amazing dunes — is worth it.

Sandboarding, Te Paki, New Zealand

Swimming With Dolphins. The dusky dolphin is known as an entertainer, performing tricks and flips for the human crowds on Kaikoura Dolphin Encounter boats. But you aren’t limited to watching from the bow; you can strap on flippers and swim with them in their natural habitat. With informative guides, the experience is both a lesson in conservation education, and marine life friendship.

 

Kelli Mutchler
Kelli Mutchler left a small, Midwest American town to prove that Yanks can, and do, chose alternative lifestyles. On the road for five years now, Kelli has tried news reporting and waitressing, bungy jumping and English teaching. Currently working with Burmese women refugees in Thailand, she hopes to pursue a MA in Global Development. Opportunities and scenes for international travel are encouraged on her blog, www.toomutchforwords.com.
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