Adventure Central on New Zealand’s North Island

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For the world`s youngest country, New Zealand is an adrenaline junkies dream with adventure knocking at every corner. And travelling around the country is definitely easy enough and cheap enough via rental car. Here is a list of my top adventures on the North Island:

1. North of Auckland and removed from the city in the Bay of Islands, Eagles Nest Resort boasts stunning views of the ocean in an isolated and relaxing setting. Luscious green hills rolling into the ocean and it seems unlimited arching rainbows provides insight into why New Zealand is so stunning. And this area is a perfect base camp for the most northern tip of the country.

2. En route to the most Northern tip at Cape Reinga is 90-mile beach; a splendid stretch of golden sand that should only be tackled by 4X4. Traveling further north and rising from the ocean in Northland are the giant Te Paki sand dunes. With peaks 100m high, body surfing towards the desolate rocky bottom at intense speeds is the only option. Hiking up the soft sand seems to take an eternity, while the trip down zips by in only a few seconds. But the rush is well worth the work up to the top and body board rentals are cheap and easily found from a local truck near the bottom of the dunes.

3. Located on the Coromandel peninsula is Hot Water beach. With equipment in tow, dig down into the sand to create your own hot spring! Aside from being tourist-central, the beach is a unique experience.

4. The iconic Cathedral Cove provides plenty of opportunity for sea kayaking, while exploring stunning beaches, marine islands, and sea caves. Visiting in the off season is recommended to avoid tourists and keep the cove all to yourself.

5. A trip on the Huka Falls jet is sure to get the heart pumping. Zigzagging at 80km/h down the Waikato River, while narrowly missing trees and cliffs and doing plenty of 360’s at the base of the falls is a definite rush. The falls pump out 220 000L/s of water as the 100m wide Waikato River narrows down to only 15m over a volcanic ledge. The volume of water flowing is unbelievable and the turqoise waters are undeniably beautiful.

6. If a joy ride on the Huka jet is not enough adventure, take a side trip out to White Island from Whakatane, where you can explore an active marine volcano (although the rough seas out to the island may be the bigger adventure!). At around 200 000 years old, the volcano is an attraction for scientists, volcanologists, and tourists. Tours take you by boat onto an island dock, where you can wander around the steaming rocks with hard hat and gas mask in tow.

7. A New Zealand-unique activity called Zorbing in the city of Rotorua is a bizarre rush. Both the wet and dry tumbles provide the right amount of disorientation to keep you wanting more. Spend some time in Rotorua, where the whole city smells like sulphur as the area is located on a geothermal hot spot. There are plenty of options to explore the geysers and bubbling mud pits.

8. The absolute highlight of a trip to New Zealand is undeniably an 8-hour caving trip in Waitomo. With an initial 100m abseil into the cave system, followed by numerous rappels, climbs, and navigating through the tunnel system is the ultimate adventure. The icing on the cake is seeing thousands of glow worms lighting up the pitch black caverns. Of course climbing out of the caves in the middle of nowhere with a stunning view of the Milky Way isn’t so bad either! Exploring an underground world truly shifts your perspective; and you realize that this adventure is quite extraordinary.

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