Discover the adventurous side of New Zealand

   New Zealand
Skydiving from 13,500 ft, bumping across the water in a jet boat, and zip-lining through dark, mysterious caves… Here is how to fuel your adventurous spirit in New Zealand

New Zealand — it’s where you’ll find coy honeymooners gazing at each other; intrepid backpackers exploring the highest peaks and the deepest seas, Nature enthusiasts on a relentless trail of whales and dolphins, and adventure sports enthusiasts trying the most bizarre stunts. Below the country’s calm façade lies a wild side, with almost every city offering you a challenging experience to try out — you just have to decide whether you wish to fly, fall, climb or swim.

Here’s five of my favourite adventure sports to indulge in, in Kiwi country.

The plane’s door slides open at 13,500 ft. My tandem master and I sidle over to the edge of the exit and sit with our legs dangling. The roaring wind silences everything around. The land below is a patchwork of green, blue and brown. There’s an uneasy calm and then it’s time to leap out. Three…two…one and jump. We fall headfirst for a couple of seconds before we somersault and float on our tummies. This is when I’m supposed to feel like Superman, but my mind is blank. I am strapped to the trainer with a number of harnesses and clips, so there isn’t much to worry about, other than the fact that he is handsome and I am having a bad hair day. Meanwhile, the photographer catches up with us midair and we do a few poses for her — all this during the 2,000-ft free fall that lasts 75 seconds. During the briefing session before the sky dive, I had made a mental note to flash my most charming smile for the camera while diving. I had even practised it in front of the mirror while touching up my makeup. But with us falling at 200kmph, such plans go for a toss. Everything around moves at a frenzied pace. And then the parachute opens and suddenly it’s all still. I can finally hear my trainer as we gently sway and make our way down. The view is spectacular. Abel Tasman Skydive (located in Motueka in South Island), has a picturesque setting, and as a result, is one of the most popular diving sites. On one side lies the azure Tasman Sea, lakes, the Motueka river, national parks, the beaches of Kaiteriteri… Also visible is a part of New Zealand’s North Island and Mount Taranaki. Seven minutes later, we land. My ears are blocked and I am breathless; friends wave and cheer from the viewing area. High fives all around and I pose for the cameras… this time, it’s an excited grin that ends in peals of laughter, fuelled by a sense of achievement. New Zealand

I remember seeing a photograph of Sachin Tendulkar trying this out, and ever since, it’s been on my to-do list. Apparently the Sky Tower, the tallest building in Auckland, is a great place to hang out, literally! We’re wearing orange jumpsuits; mine is a size too big. The staff at Sky Tower quickly fasten a set of harnesses onto us. For a group of people who’re going to be walking at a height of 192 metres, we seem rather cheerful. A glass-bottomed lift takes us to the top in a couple of quick seconds. As we exit, more safety gear is strapped onto us. The glass door opens and we step out onto a narrow metal walkway. There aren’t any railings to hold on to, so it makes sense to stretch our hands out and enjoy the breeze. We look at the bustling city below… it is a long way down. The cars look like little moving dots and the buildings resemble Lego houses. We gingerly tread across the platform, getting a 360-degree view of the city. “Let’s have some fun, shall we?” asks the guide. He makes us stand with our toes well over the edge and stare down. It doesn’t help that the strong wind tries to tip us over. Heartbeats grow louder, but we complete the task and it’s time for our second assignment. This time, we move backwards, our heels across the edge, our bodies leaning out at an obtuse angle from the walkway. This is also the best time to pose for a photo… so we do, despite the butterflies in our stomach. If this seems tame, you also have the option of Sky Jump, where you get to jump off the tower. Just make sure you have on laced footwear; you don’t want to lose your precious Choos or have them land on others’ heads.

 Jet boat
The Shotover Jet ride is perhaps one of the most thrilling water rides — Prince William and Kate Middleton, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, certainly enjoyed it during their visit to Queenstown. The whirring red boat manoeuvres its way through rocky canyons at almost 85 kmph. It takes a while to get used to the bumpy ride… there are times when the boat flies out of the water and lands with a thud. It also does a 360-degree spin, not once, but quite a few times, and just when you least expect it to. Make sure you hold on tight during the 25-minute ride, even when you’re fully drenched. Oh! And don’t be embarrassed if you let out a nervous scream.

Bungy jump
Here’s a bit of advice — this is an activity you shouldn’t give much thought to. Just take the plunge. At The Kawarau Bridge Bungy Centre in Queenstown, you will find yourself standing between a brilliant blue sky above and a meandering green river below. With a rubber cord around your ankles. A.J. Hackett made this bridge his hub in 1988 when he became, perhaps, one of the first to introduce commercial bungy jumping. It’s a 43-metre drop; keep your eyes open when you plummet because that’s half the fun. And if you’re too chicken to jump alone, this place also offers tandem jumps.

Caves are dark and mysterious. In New Zealand, they’ve managed to turn cave discoveries into a sport. It’s called caving, and requires you to make your way through settings that are actually natural obstacle courses. The Waitomo Caves, known for its glow-worms, is one of the most preferred destinations for caving. You can choose modules depending on your fitness and the time at hand. Swim, rock climb, abseil through waterfalls, toob (sit on a floating tube and float across underwater streams), and zip-line — my absolute favourite. You’ll feel like Tarzan, or like the hero of the season — Mowgli.