Skydiving and bungee jumping not really your thing? New Zealand has loads of adventures for the not-quite-as-adventurous too.
When you go on a long haul adventure, there’s a lot of expectation from others for you to do some stupid shit. I’m not talking about outrageous drinking exploits and the like (although this expectation is especially true if you’re travelling solo), more of that ‘once in a lifetime’ stuff. New Zealand is undoubtedly the adrenaline junkie’s heartland and it’s so easy to get swept up in the excitement and sign yourself up for something terrifying (which is exactly how I ended up plunging on a 300m arc from the world’s highest swing). But what if you like your adventure a little more tame? There’s certainly no shame in it, and New Zealand offers loads of opportunities for you to say, ‘I did that!’ without the fear of meeting your maker!
Waitomo Glowworm Caves
Would I rather jump off something really high or go deep underground? I’ll take potential plunging to my death, please and thank you, which is why spending a morning discovering the natural habitat of thousands of glowworms in Waitomo was pretty damn terrifying to me. Decked out in waterproof gear, the scariest part of this experience was going down the narrow ladder with no idea what I was heading towards and the fear of ending up in a cramped, dark cave with no clear exit. Once I was down there though, a whole new world opened up around me and although sometimes waist deep in water, there was huge amounts of space above my head for the majority of the time. Of course, to see the glowworms, it has to be dark, so each person on our tour jumped form the rocks onto their own rubber ring where we all tucked out feet under the arms of the person in front, forming the most unconventional conga line and were pulled into the main cave. Head lamps off and an explosion of blue green lights covered every surface, gently pulsating and looking like a paranormal starscape. Our Maori guide sang to us and I cried little silent tears at the unique beauty of such an incredible setting.
Find it at: Waitomo Glowworm Caves, 39 Waitomo Village Rd, Otorohanga 3943
Hiking in Abel Tasman
After adrenaline activities (and Lord of the Rings, wine and having a bad ass female Prime Minister), New Zealand is famous for it’s incredible landscape. Almost 30% of the country is protected national parks and the Southern Alps that form it’s spine, along with the whole place basically being one giant dormant volcano, means the perfect place to have a non-adventurous adventure is one of the amazing and vast open spaces you’re bound to come across. Abel Tasman is New Zealand’s smallest national park and has easily identifiable and simple to explore tracks that don’t require anywhere near as much preparation as the all-day hikes of places like Tongariro. I stayed at The Barn hostel which is a stone’s throw from the beginning of a track that takes you into forest, winds through bushland and ends on a beautiful beach where you can hop on a water taxi back via a quick visit to a local seal colony.
Find it at: Abel Tasman, South Island 7183
Dip in the natural hot pools of Kerosene Creek
New Zealand is full of beautiful natural wonders, but if marvelling at Wai-O-Tapu isn’t enough, and the Onsen Hot Pools in Queenstown aren’t quite rural enough for you, discovering a safe but natural hot pool is the way to go. Don’t expect any snazzy amenities here; I took my trusty microfibre towel and changed into my bikini next to the bus I’d arrived in with a group of people I’d only known for four days (such is travelling solo as part of a tour group!). I walked through mud bare foot, slipped across some rocks and slowly dipped into the natural hot pools. The temperature was like the perfect bath but good god, the smell couldn’t be any worse. It’s called Kerosene Creek for a reason and that means the lovely smell of sulphur that surrounds the whole area of Rotorua nearby very much permeates your skin, so prep with a nice smelling scrub and some shampoo for afterwards!
Find it at: Kerosene Creek, Old Waiotapu Rd, Waiotapu 3073
Take a luge down Mount Ngongotaha
There is so much to do in Rotorua, but if you’re looking for something family friendly or just easy to book in advance, the Skyline luge is actually surprisingly fun. I was a little skeptical at first, but I love a cable car and that’s the only way to get up there anyway, so I chalked that up as a win before we’d even donned our sexy helmets. There are a number of tracks and ranging from easy to advanced, so as a total newbie I could work my way up, and pretty quickly too because it turns out I’m far too impatient for the beginner’s route! But don’t think the advanced track will be simple, because at one point on the route I actually TOOK FLIGHT as I went full pelt over a hump and well, you’ve never heard expletives like it. Watch out for the idiots that don’t brake quick enough behind you, but otherwise you’re on to a super fun day with beautiful views over New Zealand.
Find it at: Skyline Luge, 178 Fairy Springs Rd, Fairy Springs, Rotorua 3015
There are gentle ways to introduce adventure to your New Zealand holiday, building up from these and working up to something a little more heart pumping. You’ll be booking a skydive before you know it!
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