The kiwi sense of adventure and innovative thinking is behind some unique New Zealand-designed adventure tourist attractions, and the country’s success in the adventure tourism space. New Zealand pioneered the concept of adventure tourism in 1988 when AJ Hackett established the world’s first commercial bungy jumping experience in Queenstown. Blokart, Zorb and Shweeb are three examples of modern Kiwi inventions that have put a new spin of ‘going for a spin’ on New Zealand’s great outdoors. Much earlier – and in a different league – the ski plane and Hamilton jet boat were Kiwi inventions that pushed the boundaries of adventure tourism. So when it comes to New Zealand being a adventure hub, this ideology is definitely the backbone for the success and its sustenance.
Safety is never a major concern when visiting New Zealand for an adventure trip. Operators that run adventure activities are required to meet specific standards under a range of regulatory regimes that cover activities in the air, on water and on land. Health and safety is just one of these regimes and is managed by the government agency Worksafe New Zealand. Worksafe will also deliver training and guidance to operators on how to manage health and safety.
Known as New Zealand’s ‘Adventure Capital’, Queenstown attracts more than a million visitors annually, who come for everything from world-class skiing and snowboarding to jet boating, rafting and bungy jumping.
The strength of the industry is that a range of adventures can be found right around the country. Bungee jumping and skydiving in Queenstown, abseiling in the Bay of Islands, rafting on the world’s highest commercially rafted waterfall in Rotorua, climbing Mt Cook (the country’s highest mountain) or exploring White Island, New Zealand’s only active marine volcano off the coast of Whakatane. There is even the Canyon Swing in Queenstown – it’s the world’s highest cliff jump and Black water rafting in Waitomo which are extremely popular.
New Zealand offers some of the most exhilarating caving, extreme skiing, surfing and windsurfing in the world. Zorbing, also invented here, offers a surreal ride from hilltop to valley bottom inside a giant plastic ball.
With around 220 diverse year-round activities and attractions, there’s never a shortage of options – Queenstown visitors can spend the morning in the mountains, the afternoon exploring forest trails and dine al fresco by the lakeside come nightfall.
If you ask about challenges, there aren’t any as such but New Zealand’s popularity may itself be categorized as a challenge. During our peak summer period (December-February) it may be challenging for visitors to book adventure activities at the last minute but if timely bookings are done then there isn’t any problem at all.
To predict which activity has the potential of being the “Future of Adventure Tourism” is always tough. Adventure tourism is constantly developing and innovating. There are a number of operators across New Zealand who focus on adventure activities like Bungy Jumping, Skydiving, Ziplining. With Ziplining, the operators generally combine a fantastic adventure experience with wildlife and conservation.
The Rotorua Canopy Tours, which is currently ranked number 1 outdoor activity by Tripadvisor, has a 3 hour Canopy Tour guides visitors through a 1.2 kilometre network of 6 ziplines, swing bridges and treetop platforms up to 22 metres high in the Canopy of ancient native forest.