Guest Post: Popular Extreme Sports in New Zealand

New Zealand is a small country with a big reputation for great natural beauty and adventure tourism. Some sports are thrilling and take skill and courage and then there is the next level. New Zealand holidays that include extreme sports are not for everyone.


The closest humans come to flying, is paragliding or parapenting. A paraglider is a combination of a hang glider and a parachute. The modified parachute has wings that keep their shape through air pressure because of the inflation of many cells. It is lightweight and can be steered. Beginners fly tandem strapped to an experienced pilot who teaches them how to steer with the toggles and how to make a soft stand-up landing.

Jet Boating

Jet boating was invented in New Zealand in 1957 by a man who needed to navigate shallow water to view his property. The inboard engine sucks water into a tube where it is blown out a stern nozzle by an impeller. This creates a high-speed jet stream. It can run in less than three centimetres of water. Rivers on both the North and South islands are navigated by jet boats. It is a fast, thrilling ride unlike anything else.

Bungee Jumping

Commercial bungee jumping was invented in New Zealand as an extreme sport after seeing Vanuatu islanders jump from a tower 35 metres high with vines tied to their ankles. A. J. Hackett exchanged the vines for latex rubber cords and introduced jumping from bridges, cranes or towers built for the purpose. The jump is controlled for complete safety. There are bungee jumping sites all over New Zealand.

Black Water Rafting

Black water rafting is done in caves in the dark and was first attempted in 1987 in the Ruakuri Cave on an inflatable tube. Also called cave tubing, it begins when participants jump two metres into the black, dark water with an inner tube around their waist. Black water rafting is mainly in Waitomo, but there are other limestone caves in New Zealand where black water rafting has yet to catch on. One highlight in Waitomo is the glow-worm studded walls and ceilings.


Canyoning takes place in deep river gorges in the wilderness with rushing rivers below. Canyoning begins with a walk along a stream bed. When the sheer walls begin to rise, participants need abseiling gear, a wetsuit, harness, helmet and boots. They descend into the abyss accompanied by the sound of rushing water. There are steep chutes, waterfalls, deep sumps to swim across, and ledges from which participants jump into pools. It is a wild, wet sport and a real thrill in the untouched natural environment.

River Sledging

River sledging is the next step after white water rafting. With only a swimsuit and a polystyrene sled or boogie board, flippers, helmet and wetsuit, participants travel face down towards the water, and are one with the rapid current. The sled moves sideways through whirlpools and eddies and sometimes an abrupt stop by a contrary wave. Turbulent rivers are the most fun, and river sledging New Zealand holidays are mainly in Queenstown and Wanaka.