South Island best of: Adventure

Image: Miles Holden

AJ Hackett Bungy New Zealand

Craters Bike Park. Image: Miles Holden

Split Apple Rock, Abel Tasman National Park. Image: Fraser Clements

South Island best of: Adventure

The South Island is bursting with adventure activities to give you that heart-pounding rush of excitement. It’s the birthplace of jet boating and commercial bungy jumping; a 15 million-hectare adventure playground with more outdoor action than any adrenaline junkie could cram in one lifetime.

From the air

The South Island does a great line in jaw-dropping scenery on the grandest of scales, and there’s no better way to appreciate the full scope of it than free-falling from the sky. Head out on an unforgettable flight-seeing adventure in epic locations such as Queenstown, Fiordland or the West Coast, and for the ultimate adrenaline rush, combine your scenic flight with a rip-roaring skydiving experience.

Jet boating

You can’t take on a fast-flowing, shallow braided river in a conventional boat. Introducing: jet boats. Pretty much what it says on the box: a boat with jet propulsion, perfect for farmers and explorers navigating our rivers. As a bonus, they’re also wildly fun. Take a quick commercial ride for some wicked spins and thrills, or embark on a jet boat safari to explore parts of the back country virtually inaccessible any other way.

White-water rafting

Test your mettle in the raging rapids of some of our most famous rivers with a rubber dinghy and a team of fellow adventure seekers. You’ll find some of the best white water in Queenstown’s Shotover River and in the Buller Gorge on the West Coast.

Bungy jumping

Take a dive with a big rubber band around your ankles. Queenstown’s Kawarau Bridge is where it all started in 1988, and you can still jump there to this day. There are more jumps to try around Queenstown, as well as a bridge bungy at Hanmer Springs.

Mountain biking

Bring your bike on any South Island trip and you’re guaranteed to get a chance to use it. You’ll find awesome trails everywhere you go, from urban adventure parks and easy coastal rides to wind-whistling downhill action in the mountains. If you didn’t bring your own wheels, you can easily find rentals in most towns.


Explore the backcountry under engine power on a guided 4WD expedition, with both quad bike and 4WD truck tours available in Wānaka, Mount Cook National Park, Canterbury, the West Coast and more. It’s a great way to get off the beaten track for scenery you’d never snap from the roadside.

Sea kayaking

Venture out on the water to explore the South Island’s diverse coastal landscape, and you’ll very likely encounter wildlife such as seals, penguins and dolphins along the way. Top kayaking spots include Abel Tasman National Park, Kaikōura, Banks Peninsula and Fiordland.


The phenomenal mountainous spine of the South Island attracts thousands of skiers and snowboarders every season, and for the advanced ripper looking for some serious off-piste action, a heli-skiing experience provides the opportunity to tap some of the best untracked powder and backcountry terrain the mountains have to offer.

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