After ten months in Australia (and a quick three week vacation in Sri lanka) it was time for me to hit the road again and explore somewhere with a somewhat milder climate, a place famous for big mountains, stunning scenery, friendly people, good food, good wine, and some of the most extreme and accessible adventure activities found anywhere in the world. This is New Zealand and an overview of my 15 day journey exploring the South Island with Topdeck Travel and Peter Pan’s Adventure Travel. It was an absolutely amazing trip and one I will not soon forget. I hope you enjoy this post and it brings back great memories of your time in NZ, or inspires you to get out there and visit the Real Middle Earth.
It starts to get to me just as my toes shuffle over the edge. Of course the first thing I do is look down, they told me not to look down, and seriously that’s a long way down, and that’s a very rocky bottom. But you’ll never hit it right, you’re all hitched up to ropes and literally thousands of people have done this before you. Still these thoughts won’t calm my instinctual sensations silently screaming, ‘Don’t Jump!’ I jump anyway.
The earth hurtles below my flailing body as I fly towards the ground. This is fast, really fast. I let out a massive yell born from the overwhelming pulse of pure energy coursing through my veins, the rope catches and my movement slows before I’m lurched back up a perfect ascending bounce 60 meters high, this is when the earth stops. For one impossibly incredible instant everything goes silent and I float effortlessly through a dream that any fabricated drug could never replicate. This is a moment of happiness that can only be truly discovered by embarking upon something that really pushes the limits of our instinctual senses. To put yourself completely out of your comfort zone and allow your life to be put into the hands of another, to trust you gear, the basic physics of the activity, to let loose and let go. Ready? Set? See ya!!
New Zealand is known to many as an Adventure Tourism mecca, if not the all-around best adventure travel destination in the world. Now this is a steep claim, but to anyone who has visited before and anybody interested in visiting in the future, you’ll know exactly why. This place has it all. From Scuba Diving to Skydiving, Mountaineering to Mountain Biking, Canyon Jet Boating to White Water Rafting, and even Downhill Skiing and Snowboarding. The diversity is honestly incredible, there are so many adrenaline and adventure activities to choose from, it seems like people have started making up new ones just for fun, like falling backwards from most extreme 200m canyon swing ever while conveniently strapped to a plastic deck chair! How awesome is that!?!
The capital of this madness is Queenstown and the South Island of the #RealMiddleEarth. I was lucky to recently embark on a ten day Pure Adrenaline tour of the South Island. It was awesome! As a self-proclaimed adrenaline junkie, there are many destinations I travel to simply because they are unique for having incredible natural features that offer great outdoor experiences often revolving around adventure and adrenaline. New Zealand has been at the top of that list for a long time and I was stoked to go. Ten days is not a lot of time, so naturally I added an additional five just for fun. It was however enough time to get in some of the classic NZ adventure experiences like Bungee jumping the 132m Nevis, a couple massive Canyon Swings, some Jet Boating, Mountain Biking, Hiking, Trail Running, and best of all Skydiving with the most ultimate NZone crew from 15,000 feet!!! Not to mention exploring glaciers and rainforests, driving through awe inspiring mountain passes and along the shores of pristine alpine lakes, taking in some stunning coastal scenery and meeting a few of the locals along the way.
Our journey started in Christchurch and headed West visiting Franz Joseph and Fox Glaciers before veering South along an impressive cliff laden coast with raw waves crashing into barren beaches far below. We then headed back inland to the tourist hotspot Queenstown for two adrenaline packed days of pure debauchery. From there it was off to Fiordland and the famed Milford Sound (amazing, see below image) then back up to Lake Ohau (again super scenic) before hitting Christchurch on route North towards the town of Nelson and Abel Tasman National Park. We then crossed the Cook Straight back to the Southern part of the North and capital of NZ, Wellington. That’s basically the quick wrap up of an incredible trip around the South Island of New Zealand.
I don’t want to go into much detail on the experiences in each location because really it differs for everyone and the best way to figure it out is to do it yourself. I want to touch more on the trip as a whole. Our guided excursion was incredibly well organized and I was truly blown away by the tour. I don’t go into travelling with too many expectations, but as a past hiking guide in Patagonia, South America I was inherently intrigued by how this trip style would differ from those I used to manage. Of course it would never be the exact same but I was still excited to be on the other side of the fence. It was great to let loose for a couple weeks and not have to spend time researching and planning my next destinations. I was able to focus on making the most of the activities and socializing with other group members. Having the accommodation, most meals, transport and travel times handled by a more than competent guide was a nice and welcomed weight off my backpacking shoulders.
It is always an interesting conversation, organized small group travel vs. backpacking and all the comparisons, likes, dislikes, etc. As a professional within the world of Adventure Tourism I believe there is a market for all types of travellers and having the options to travel in whichever style suits you best is a privilege many of us take for granted. Even if you’re travelling on less than $20 per day, it’s still a privilege to be travelling in the first place. I like group travel for the camaraderie and for the chance to share an experience with total strangers, it’s also a chance to get to know new people with different backgrounds, different cultures, and to be a part of something special. Travel is often as much about who you share the experience with as it is the destination.
The Pure Adrenaline trip through the South Island of New Zealand delivered. It was an awesome ten days with great people, stunning scenery, heart pumping activities, super keen guides and knowledgeable passionate trip leaders. The group was a great mix of intrepid travellers from all over the globe and I have walked away with another set of awesome people to contact while abroad exploring new destinations. I guess in conclusion it couldn’t have ended up much better than it did. NZ is well geared towards tourism with great facilities and impeccably organized services to help the traveller make the most of their adventure. The scenery is absolutely mystical and often it felt as if I was walking through a dreamscape, the land beckoning to my childlike imagine, a sense of freedom and creativity. This is New Zealand. I suggest you go check it out.