Ahhhh New Zealand. One of my top 3 countries in the whole entire world. It seems like anything is possible in Kiwi-land, with some of the most jaw-dropping landscapes I’ve seen, and the coolest adventure sports taking centre stage.
In fact, it’s such a quirky country that I really did begin to think anything could be possible, and fell for all sorts of pranks. As an example, someone told me that they had successfully cross-bred a sheep and a camel to create a new species of animal; a ‘shamel’. When we arrived to see these so-called shamels, it took me a while to cotton on that they were in fact, llamas.
OK, I’m aware how stupid this makes me look, but take a look at the crazy shit you can do in New Zealand and it doesn’t seem so unbelievable. Get your chops around my 9 Utterly Epic Experiences in New Zealand and let me know what you would add as number 10. I have a feeling I’ve only scratched the surface!
9. Swim with wild dolphins
In Kaikoura on New Zealand’s South Island, you’ll find one of the only places I know of where you can take to the seas to swim with a pod of wild dolphins. I’m really against whales and dolphins being held in captivity so when I heard about this cool way to interact with everyone’s favourite sea-dwelling mammals, I jumped at the chance!
They absolutely love to play with people and chase the boat for miles, awaiting the moment that the people enter the water, at which point they go crazy! A little hint: Dip under water and squeal through your snorkel to get them to approach. Once you’ve locked eye contact, spin around and they will circle you, following your gaze. I even had one jump right over my head which was a rush, let me tell ye!
8. Jump out of a plane
Speaking of a rush, there’s nothing like a bloody good skydive to get that pulse racing. In fact, you can expect to feel so pumped with adrenaline for the rest of the day that you’ll probably struggle to sleep!
Here’s me taking on a tandem skydive from 15,000 feet over Lake Taupo in the North Island. It’s impossible to describe how reaching terminal velocity actually feels, but if you imagine your stomach becoming weightless and coming up into your mouth, whilst being blasted by the world’s largest hairdrier, you’re somewhere in the neighbourhood. Check out my failed attempt at blowing a kiss (top right photo) 😀
7. See a rabbit being shaved
Yes, you read that right. Rabbits. Being shaved.
This is the reality in The Shearing Shed in Waitomo, North Island. Long-haired Angora rabbits are shaved right in front of your very eyes, and it’s WEIRD. You can also buy hats, scarves and other soft souvenirs made from the rabbit’s fur if you so wish. I didn’t though. As I said, it’s weird.
6. Eat a Fergburger
The best burger in New Zealand, nay, the world, can be found at Fergburger in Queenstown, South Island. Apart from being absolutely massive, a Ferg’s inherent juiciness will leave you feeling all kinds of happy. Plus with names like ‘Little Lamby’ and ‘Cockadoodle Oink’, you’ll keep yourself entertained for days working your way through the menu.
5. Undertake a Canyon Swing
Here’s a riddle for ya. What’s 24 years old, extremely hungover and hanging off the edge of a cliff? Yes, it’s me on that fateful ‘canyon swing’ Tuesday in 2010. I’m not sure what possessed me to agree to step backwards over a 109 metre cliff, but boy, I’m glad I did! For your viewing pleasure, I’ve managed to dig up my old facebook post including the video. Watch and laugh as the closeup shows how much I’m bricking it, and listen to me gobble like a turkey on the way back up. Flattery at its finest!
4. Walk on an active glacier
The magic just keeps coming in NZ, and a hike on Franz Josef Glacier on the South Island will be a different experience for everyone. The glacier’s shape is constantly changing so each day will bring new crevasses, holes and peaks to explore. In fact it changes so quickly that hikers have to carve their own set of steps to navigate this awesome natural phenomenon each and every day.
3. Make a stop at Puzzling World
If you’re into bizarre-o random crap, then Puzzling World near Wanaka has got your name written all over it. Hold up a ten ton building, play around with gravity-defying rooms and alter your perspective with a trip to the ‘Ames Room’, where you can go from giant to dwarf within seconds.
2. Swing up to 80mph in a sleeping bag
Yep, a sleeping bag. At Agroventures Adventure Park near Rotarua, this is just one of the delights on offer for thrill-seekers. Get yourself hoisted up to 40 metres high, and then dangle there like a pair of useless testicles until someone in your group has the balls (geddit?) to pull the release chord. Then you’re in for a couple of seconds of stomach-turning freefall before the swing kicks in an catapults you forward. You can also go ‘schweebing’ here, which is kind of like a laying down cycling race in a big glass ball. Hard to picture but absolutely hilarious to watch.
1. Take in the immense scenery
Where else on Earth can you find incredible turquoise waters running through rivers and shimmering mirror lakes reflecting craggy mountainscapes? Well, not many places, for sure! One of my favourite places is what I call the ‘lake porn’ region, a mountain range dotted with lakes running down the western spine of New Zealand’s South Island. The lakes are almost black and reflect the ranges perfectly on a clear day. Oh yeahhhh, Mother Nature! You got it goin’ on!
I spent 5 weeks travelling around New Zealand on a Kiwi Experience bus. I chose the Rangi pass to take in the highlights of the north and south islands, but there are lots more to choose from if you have more or less time. Next time I find myself in NZ I’m for sure going to stop by Milford Sound and the university town of Gisborne.
Got any other recommendations? Let me know below!