Stepping out of your comfort zone and adding a little light adventure to your holiday in New Zealand promises to make your kiwi vacation even more unforgettable. While Aotearoa is famous for its extreme activities, there are a range of thrilling experiences on offer that don’t require extreme bravery, fitness or heights. From swimming with dolphins to sand boarding and kayaking, here are our suggestions for light adventure experiences that you’ll remember for years to come.
A holiday in New Zealand promises to involve plenty of magnificent sights, fine food and wine and colourful kiwi culture. Injecting a little adventure promises to spice things up – the activities we’ve selected below are suitable for most people, regardless of age or fitness level. See which ones take your fancy. Many are part of our small group tour itineraries.
Swim with dolphins in subtropical Northland
The Bay of Islands is a coastal wonderland. Blessed with a subtropical climate and teeming with marine life, it’s a magical holiday destination for kiwis and visitors alike. Sheltered bays and beaches dot the emerald islands of this special region, and playful pods of dolphins are a common sight. Exploring the waters of the Bay of Islands on a purpose-built dolphin viewing boat is one of the best ways to experience these special mammals. If conservation guidelines allow, seize the opportunity to take the plunge and jump in. The boats are customised for easy access into the water and it's no problem to climb back aboard after your swim. To ensure the ultimate encounter, masks, fins and wetsuits are supplied so there is every reason to get a slice of the action. Dolphins are curious and will often come right up close – humming or singing under the water can create even more personal encounters.
Skim down mighty mountains of soft, flowing sand
Beside the beautiful Hokianga Harbour are some incredible sand dunes - the ideal place to explore after a peaceful cruise on the harbour. And the ideal place to roll your sleeves up and try something unexpected and a little exciting! On a sand board, you control the speed – steering and braking with your feet. The dunes themselves make the ultimate 'soft playing field' – you’re able to go at your own pace and take your time. People of all ages have given it a go on our small group tours (it is optional), and the grins on their faces once they reach the bottom are always priceless. It's often simple, unexpected thrills like this one that are the most memorable and this one is a real cracker!
Kayak enchanting waters
You don't need any prior experience to enjoy the wonderful feeling of gliding across calm, tranquil waters in a kayak. Paddling through the calm waters of Okarito Lagoon is an activity that can be enjoyed by people of any age and fitness level. This large, remote wetland is a fascinating place to visit on the South Island’s wild West Coast. Here, you will discover unspoiled rainforest and shrub lands that are home to over 70 documented species of birds. Don’t forget your camera; the soundless kayak has major advantages over a boat ride - when you get that amazing close-up photo of a white heron or royal spoonbill, you too will agree. The thrill here is in the silence, the spiritual feel of the lagoon and the satisfying sensation of effortlessly cutting through still waters.
Soar above fiords and mountain tops
The feeling of lifting off the end of a runway in a small plane is thrilling - especially when you are soaring into the clean air and pristine mountains of one of New Zealand's most dramatic and beautiful wilderness landscapes. And there is nowhere better to survey from the air than the magical country between Milford Sound and Queenstown. Once described as 'the eight natural wonder of the world,' Milford Sound is nestled in the heart of the Fiordland National Park in the South Island. The flight carries you past lush rainforests, glaciers, lakes and rivers on the way to Queenstown. Scenic flights really don't get much better than this. Those who are nervous fliers can take comfort from the fact that New Zealand has some of the best pilots and aviation standards in the world. This activity is a true 'bucket lister,' not to mention a very convenient mode of transport for your return to Queenstown from Milford Sound.