Explore New Zealand’s hard-to-reach places on the coast, such as the caves and islands near Cathedral Cove or see the 10-metre high Maori carvings at Mine Bay, Taupo. Test your sea kayaking skills on the waters of the sheltered Auckland harbour by kayaking to these 10 Islands to Kayak to From Auckland.
The North Island is especially surrounded by some gnarly waves. There are popular beaches in Raglan and Piha, but you can find some great surf all over the coast. Try the Taranaki Surf Highway 45 or the Waitakere Ranges in Auckland for some big surf. You can find some hidden gems in the South Island, especially along the east coast.
3. Jet boating
A Kiwi invention and therefore a New Zealand must-do, jet boating is a super-speed activity that has you hurtling downriver gorges and steep canyons. The nippy boat can even do full 360-degree spins! Check out the 7 Places to Jet Boat in New Zealand.
What a better way to get the most spectacular and highest views of the coastline? Parasailing of course! When you visit the stunning Bay of Islands and its 144 islands, you have to experience New Zealand’s ultimate parasail. Fly solo, tandem or even triple as high as 1200 feet. (That’s over 350 metres high!) It’s seriously a “must do” when you visit the Bay of Islands. With a bit of luck, you’ll even spot dolphins from up there.
5. White water rafting
The river gorges that make jet boating so good in New Zealand also makes excellent rapids for white water rafting. Whatever your ability or fear level, there are rapids from grades 2 to 5 all over the country. Check out some fun places to raft in our article: The 7Places to Go White Water Rafting in New Zealand.
6. Great white shark cage diving
Off the coast of Stewart Island, you can join the great white sharks. It must be the most badass dive around.
Check out our full guide to Stewart Island for backpackers here.
There are scenic sailing tours around New Zealand’s national parks, such as Abel Tasman, or hire a sailboat to go out to sea. Check out the best places to sail here: 5 Places to go Sailing in New Zealand.
8. Scuba diving
See an array of colourful coral, sponges, stingrays and fish in waters such as Poor Knights Island, White Island and Bay of Islands. There are freshwater options too such as Riwaka Caverns near Nelson. Have a look at some top diving spots here: 7 Places to Scuba Dive in New Zealand.
9. Stand up Paddle Boarding
This water sport is huge in New Zealand, not just for doing competitively in races, but as a way to relax and explore too. Most tour operators will give you a quick lesson before hitting the water.
This involves a lot of water, a lot of streams, rivers, waterfalls and jumping into the water. A good way to see some of nature’s most extreme places in New Zealand is canyoning where you follow a river canyon on its course – no matter what obstacles lie ahead. Find out more in 7 Impressive Canyoning Locations in New Zealand