Guest Article: Top 5 Strange New Zealand Activities

Here come our bikes

Heli bike drop. By Grayskullduggery (Flickr)

The breath-taking beauty of New Zealand’s landscapes was admirably showcased in the Lord of the Rings film trilogy. Due to the numerous areas of interest and scenery, there are plenty of outdoor-themed activities for locals and visitors to enjoy. From zorbing (read: a human hamster ball) to tours of the Hobbiton Shire, here are some of the stranger activities found around New Zealand.


For those not in the know, zorbing – also referred to as orbing, globe-riding, and sphereing – is a popular recreational sport that was tried for the first time in New Zealand. What is it? Well, it involves someone hurtling down a hill or slope with little more than a plastic ball to protect the occupant from the elements. You too can experience the thrill of this by visiting Rotorua.

River Surfing

Those who cannot surf often look on enviously from the shoreline as lithe, lean bodies navigate the ocean surf and successfully catch a wave. At some point, someone in New Zealand looked at sea surfers and thought ‘there must be a way to make this more challenging’; and so they invented river surfing. If you’re interested in trying it, head to Queenstown, where the Kawarau River awaits you. You’ll don a wetsuit, receive a board, and then float down river to your instructor, who will help you navigate the dangerous rapids ahead. Not for the faint hearted.


If you’re not an outdoor fundi, then you’re unlikely to have heard of heli-biking…which in short is a unique New Zealand extreme sport, which involves taking a helicopter ride to the top of a slope or summit before being dropped off on the peak with only your bikes. Your group then has to navigate the twisting, winding slopes of the peak you’ve landed on, and make it safely back to the base. Tours for this activity are also offered from Queenstown, with full day and half-day options. Most tour operators also can arrange tailored heli-bike trips.

Dunedin’s Jaffa Cake Roll

The annual Cadbury Chocolate Carnival is a fun event indeed and it’s been around since 2002. One of the crowd-pleasing activities is the Jaffa Cake Race – where thousands of giant Jaffa cakes are rolled down Baldwin Street; the steepest street in the world! Dunedin happens to be the home of this much-loved chocolate-orange treat, and the Jaffa cakes used are given up for a higher purpose. Two charities organise two races, with nearly 25,000 Jaffa cakes per race. Each Jaffa Cake is numbered, and the first 5 to cross the finish line are winners! The money made from this event goes towards a worthwhile cause. Past donations have been made to the Dunedin Kindergarten Association, The Malcam Charitable Trust, as well as The Otago Community Hospice. If you’re keen to experience this, then head to Dunedin from 20 – 26 July 2013.

Auckland Sky Tower Challenge

Another annual event that’s rather odd though good fun for those involved is the Auckland Sky Tower Challenge – open to any firefighter. Dressed in full fire fighting gear (which averages 25kg), these heroic men and women race up the tallest building in the southern hemisphere to raise funds for the Leukaemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand charity. The building has 51 flights of stairs, totalling 1,103 steps. Last year, fireman Josh Harrison made it to the top of the tower in 8 minutes 29 seconds, with the fastest female firefighter, Rochelle Martin, coming in at 12 minutes 48 seconds.

Author Bio: Roseanna McBain is a writer for She enjoys learning about cultures and mythologies from around the world, has a love of strong coffee and herbal teas, and enjoys spending times with friends on weekends.