Bungy jumping is ‘so yesterday’ according to the latest batch of thrill seekers who are flocking to New Zealand to freefall, swoop and shweeb. Here are some of the more unusual New Zealand adrenalin activities on offer for those who are brave enough to scare themselves silly in the adventure capital of the world.
Freefall Xtreme, Rotorua
“The funniest thing about the Freefall Xtreme would have to be the variety of facial expressions caused by the wind in the tunnel,” laughs Anna Rodgers from Agroventures, a Rotorua company that’s giving Queenstown a run for its money in the adrenalin stakes. “You never know how much skin is on your face until it’s moving at 180kph!” Agroventures is the only place in the Southern Hemisphere where you can slip into a flight suit and fly like a super hero on a giant column of air. If you’ve ever wanted to try skydiving but aren’t keen on jumping out of a plane, this is for you.
Nevis Swing: Queenstown
The World’s Biggest Swing: it sounds like something you’d find in a playground but this hard core adrenalin experience is strictly for the big kids. Henry van Asch who invented the original Bungy with his mate AJ Hackett also created this super-sized swing which travels in a 300 metre arc over a canyon. “Part of the fun is that there’s up to 12 different positions to choose from on the Swing Menu,” says van Asch. “We’ve had groups of friends ‘rock off’ to decide which pair will swing in which position.” You have to feel sorry for the two Aussie mates who lost their round and had to do the Honeymoon.
Shweeb means “suspend” in German but there’s no hanging around on this ride. You’ll need to crank up those leg muscles to power your bullet-shaped pod which hangs from an overhead rail; take the corners fast enough and you’ll swing out over a seven metre drop. Up to four people can challenge each other or individuals can race against the clock. The Shweeb isn’t as scary as some of the other adrenalin experiences but it does force competitive types to face their ultimate fear: the fear of losing!
You’ll fly through the air with the greatest of ease, surrounded by birdlife and beautiful trees on this eco-friendly tour which starts on top of Bob’s Peak. “It’s pure fun,” says Sales & Marketing Manager Nicky Busst. “You get to zip through the forest all the way to the bottom of the mountain.” Guides ensure each rider is buckled into their purpose built harness then it’s as simple as walking down a couple of wooden steps and letting gravity do the rest. Ziplining is exhilarating and relaxing, a quirky combination which makes this adrenalin activity unique. It also offers thrill seekers some of the best views in town.
Daredevils of any age can experience the Swoop, a 40 metre high swing that sends up to three people hurtling through the air at 130kph. Each rider is suspended in a full body sling which makes it a bit less scary. Kind of. Anticipation builds during the slow winch to the top of the ride, especially if you’re not the one holding the release cord. Swooping is a great choice for families with children who don’t make the height and/or weight requirements for other rides. Kids love getting revenge on their parents by pulling the rip cord.
Auckland Bridge Bungy: Auckland
Thrill seekers get a double rush with this heart-pumping experience which starts with a hair-raising walk along a metal gantry under the Auckland Bridge and finishes with a bungy jump over the ocean. This is one of the few sites in the world offering every possible jumping option – ankle tie, harness jump or tandem – which makes it tempting to do this bungy more than once (repeat jumps are half price). Provided the tides are right, you’ll get to touch the sky and the ocean. Enjoying the spectacular view is a much better idea than looking down when you’re walking across the bridge.
If you are heading to Queenstown and looking for somewhere to stay, we enjoyed The Rees Hotel and Peppers Beacon. If you decide you want to try skiing, here are my tips for learning how to ski as a grown-up.