When you think of New Zealand what do you think of? Before I visited there, my visions of New Zealand, for whatever reason, were filled up with lots of adventure. Ok, lots of green hills and adventure. And during our trip there, those visions were certainly fulfilled. There are endless high adventure things to do in New Zealand, and I think Pete helped us hit a good helping of them during our stay. I mentioned these things we did in my other posts, but there were some extra pictures that deserved a post of their own.

I mean, take this one for instance:

Ha! Ok, that’s not actually us. But we river rafted that same class-five waterfall, and lived to tell about it!

So let’s get going on the picture-sharing for high adventure in New Zealand.

Four things that will get your heart pumping in New Zealand

Kaituna Cascades

Kaituna Cascades was on the North Island, and as I mentioned, it surprised us with how many rapids it held aside from “the big one,” the largest commercially operated class five two-story waterfall in the world.

I had seen pictures, and this little get-ready-for-the-rapids hut was full of them:

So why in heaven’s name was everyone so calm and collected just hanging out there? Did they not realize the gravity of this situation? Ha! Or maybe their hearts were pumping hard on the inside while they tried to stay calm on the outside just as mine was. Yikes.

We had some basic training, got geared up, and then headed on out into that frothing water.

We hit some smaller rapids, and then it was time for the big one. I mentioned before that my legs were cramping up…it was cold, but boy howdy I was nervous too!

Let’s check that out.

Yep, that was a heart-pumper if I’ve ever had one.

And I LOVED it.

Let’s get some closer looks…

Heading down:

Pretty much fully submerged:

Peeking back out:

Dave trying to stay in:

Made it!!


We lived to tell the story:)

Canyon Swing

Ok so I had heard about New Zealand bungee jumping before. You know the one where you jump off the bridge and bungee down to the water? But I did bungee jumping back in high school at the 49th Street Galleria (anyone remember that place??) and it was awful. Just a big jolt on your body. Ok and I’m sure a big drop in New Zealand would NOT be in the same category as that, but this canyon swing sure seemed more inviting. It’s a longer drop than the famous bungee jump, but it’s a smooth swing at the end rather than a jolt.

My heart was pumping once again when we got there ready for this next adventure. Can you see the fear?

We could choose any way we wanted to “jump,” and I think everyone in our group chose a different way. You could get pushed off, you could take a dive, you could go backwards, you could hang on until you couldn’t any more and have to let go.

Dave and I decided to go tandem and opted to have them cut the rope holding us up as we dangled there in the sky.

Here we are all excited (and nervous!) to go:

But then once we got dangling out there we realized this was not the smartest choice in the book!

They cut one little thread at a time to let the anticipation build.

We look happy here, but we were really thinking “GET THIS THING OVER WITH!”

Then suddenly we were free:

Dropping in sheer panic.

As a side-note, we sent these photos to our kids (this and a few others). Claire mentioned to Elle that “it should be illegal to see your parents like that.” HA! So there’s an “illegal” photo for you.

It was sheer panic for about three seconds and then it was all glory, swinging out in all that beauty.

We loved it so much and were all smiles getting pulled back up.

Dave’s face says it all:

Our friend Steve’s face says it all too. He was the one I got permission to share because he chose the “dive” off and loved every second of it.

The other pictures I think are illegal to share for reals, so I’ll just share this pic of us laughing our guts out about them later at the hotel.

Oh my goodness we were crying laughing so hard.

Shotover Jet

I also talked about this Shotover jet thing, but even the videos are difficult to feel how fast and crazy it was.

Or how beautiful it all was. But here’s to trying.

Here’s a look at the 360s we did over and over:

That was some good adrenaline too.

Kinda cool that all kinds of famous people have done this thing. I only got pictures of the royals…and maybe the queen didn’t actually get in the boat…

But these guys did…can you spot the royals in there?


Ok, I wish I had better photos of canyoning, and these ones are included on the other post, but this was a pretty cool adrenaline-pumping activity too.

Scaling rocks, jumping down waterfalls, squeezing through narrow spots in icy cold water. It was a pretty grand high adventure as well.

And there we have it.

There’s a fifth high adventure thing you can do in New Zealand…at least it sure was high adventure for me. It was mountain biking through the redwoods. Boy that was a pretty incredible way to make you feel alive as well!

Some tips for places to go if you want to get your heart pumping and feel extra alive on a visit to New Zealand.

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  1. OK i gotta say – your trip looks amazing, and NZ looks beautiful, but it sure seems you guys spent a lot of time in what HAS to be freezing cold water, ha!

  2. Hi Shawni,

    As a longtime reader of your blog and an admirer I have to ask were you not scared???? I say this from the perspective of a single mother. I will never do anything that would put my children at risk of losing a parent. I am curious that you and Dave would undertake such dangerous adventures on your alone time. How about a relaxing beach with nothing more to worry about than when the tide comes in and out? I feel like your day to day is stressful enough and jammed full of everyone elses needs. Why go on such a stressful outing? Just curious.

    1. I’m from New Zealand, and these things are very safe tourist activities, with plenty of safety precautions. Everyone does them.
      It’s important to show your kids that, just as Helen Keller said, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing!” And she was deaf and blind!
      As my school motto says in Maori, “Kia kaha” – “Stay strong!”

    2. Some people really enjoy adrenaline-boosting activities. I am not one of those people, at all, but I also would be bored to tears if I went on vacation and just sat around at the beach all day.

    3. Oh we just love adventure so this was so fun for us. Made us feel alive! As Sarah said, there are all kinds of safety precautions so all was well, and we knew it would be. But it was still sure an adrenaline pumper! For sure this type of thing is not for everyone, and there is so much power in relaxing on the beach as well. Like Rorie says, good to mix it up a bit here and there.

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