The appeal of bungy jumping is a constant mystery to most folks. It's a fancy rubber band and a very long way to fall. The AJ Hacketts jump site near Queenstown was the world's first bungy site, and has been in business for almost 20 years. At 43 metres it isn't the tallest, but it's a piece of history you can't miss out on.
This is where the latest New Zealand phenomenon began. With sites in England, Australia and the States, the desire to roll down a hill in a ball has clearly been a long-buried facet of the human psyche just waiting to break free. Wet and dry rides available to those who enjoy a little variety.
Queenstown hosts plenty of high-speed sports that don't involve falling from things - one of their most popular is a jet boat trip up the Shotover canyon , including their trademark 360° spin to put your adrenaline levels through the roof.
On the northern coast of the south island, Marlborough Sound is considered New Zealand's best dive sites. With cave systems near Nelson and wreck diving in the Sound, it's the total opposite of the Barrier Reef of nearby Australia. Great diving can also be found at Kaikoura, north of Christchurch.
If you're looking to skydive in New Zealand then you can't go wrong with NZONE Skydiving in Queenstown. Offering a number of jumps up to 15,000ft, you're guaranteed the time of your life with some of the most spectacular views. This really is an absolute must on your gap year. Check out our gapper's story of sky diving in New Zealand to find out what it's really like.
As you'd expect from a country with more mountains than common sense, there are rock-climbing sites abound all over the country. Auckland will be easily accessible to most backpackers, while Arthur's Pass, although a little more tricky to get to, offers a higher altitude the substantially better scenery of the Southern Alps. What better way to get high downunder?
It's been mentioned already, but it must be stressed that the caving in New Zealand is fantastic. Whether it's black-water rafting or regular caving/canyoning at Waitomo, the glow-worms will provide you with a memory you'll never forget, while the Takaka cave systems at Nelson are among the longest and deepest in the world - perfect for the budding explorers out there.
An alternative to descending a mountain that doesn't involve a terminal velocity or a parachute (for a change), NZ offers unparalleled mountain biking in the exotic forests of Auckland, the challenge circuits of Rotorua or the alpine ridges of Queenstown. Whatever style pushes your pedal, there'll be something there for you.
Wake boarding has become more and more popular in New Zealand and one of the best places to to it is Milford Sound. See if you've got what it takes to wake-board.
If you don't tramp a single route while you're in New Zealand, you can pretty much consider it a wasted trip. Even going down to the shops in a rural area feels like the beginning of a great expedition, and the fantastic thing about this country is that everywhere has something to offer, not just the national parks. The real hikers out there should be taking the multiple-day trips in Milford or Tongariro, but there are plenty of day trips and tours to secluded spots that'll still allow you get as close to nature as you feel necessary. Toilets not necessarily included.