Zorbing in New Zealand
New Zealanders seem to have an obsession with throwing themselves off things, or out of planes, and the country offers many spectacular locations to do so.
Auckland’s Sky Tower is the site of Skyjump (www.skyjump.co.nz), best described as base-jumping without the parachute. Jumpers are escorted to a lift, which takes them to the 53rd floor of the 1,076-foot) tower. After donning a harness and having equipment checked, they make their way to the edge of a platform where, after summoning together their last reserves of courage, they leap off the building towards the city, 630 feetbelow.
One of the most notable bungee-jumping sites is on the Auckland Harbour Bridge, and the Bridge Walk to the jump site is equally exciting for spectators.
The Mokai Gravity Canyon bungee over the Rangitikei River is one of the North Island’s most scenically spectacular.
Related:Touring Halifax, Nova Scotia
Jumpers who opt for the South Island have a choice of Queenstown jumps. They can leap 141 feetoff the original bungee site at Kawarau Bridge, drop 154 feetoff the Ledge bungee in central Queenstown, or brave the Nevis Highwire bungee, the ultimate high-wire jump of 440 feetfrom a gondola that overlooks the meeting of the Nevis and Kawarau rivers.
A similar thrill is on offer at the Shotover Canyon Swing, where you jump in a harness from 358 feetand freefall 197 feetinto the canyon before a twin rope system pendulums you in a smooth 656-footarc at 90 mph.
Parasailing, paragliding and skydiving are other ways to obtain an adrenaline fix while also getting an aerial sightseeing tour. During the summer months, commercial parasailers operate on most of the major lakes. Small airfields near main tourist destinations will generally have gliding or skydiving centres on site or nearby. For many, completing a tandem skydive is high on their list of must-doadventure activities.
Taupo, Christchurch, Wanaka and Queenstown are notably popular areas for skydiving. After leaving the plane, jumpers will spend the first 30 seconds in freefall, plummeting to the ground at 124 mphbefore enjoying the leisurely drift down to earth.
For details of adventure sports operators visitwww.newzealand.com.
Zorbing is the epitome of New Zealanders’ love of the bizarre. This unique sport was invented in New Zealand and involves tumbling, flipping and sliding inside a giant globe as it hurtles downhill at speeds of up to 19 mph. The Zorb is actually two spheres, one suspended inside the inflated outer one. The view from inside is a tumbling blur of blue sky and green grass which eventually seems to blend into one as you bounce and fall and roll down a hillside. Aficionados throw a bucket of water in first just to remove any chance that they can cling to the sides. Check out Zorb Rotorua (zorb.com/world/rotorua).
For more New Zealand travel tips, go to www.insightguides.com.