Extreme Sport & Authentic Adventure Holiday
June 6, 2012 · Print This Article
If you are looking to connect with nature and spend some time with wildlife, New Zealand is for you.You can hire a punt on an urban river; relax for days on a houseboat, motor yacht or sailing vessel; be your own captain or hire an experienced professional crew.
The pristine landscapes and waterways of the Southern South Island offer a favourite cruising experience for many, offering scenic cruises through Fiordland, Queenstown and Stewart Island.
Whether you prefer a high speed jet boat ride or a leisurely jaunt, you’ll find New Zealanders are happy to share with you their love of water-borne transport.
Like a jet aircraft, a jet boat has no external propeller. Instead, it squirts water out at high speed just below the surface behind the boat. This allows the boat to operate in depths of only a few centimetres.
The jet boat was developed in the 1960s by New Zealand farmer William (Bill) Hamilton, to allow navigation of the shallow Canterbury rivers. However, enterprising New Zealanders soon realised its potential as an adventure activity.
Sit back, buckle yourself in and feel the acceleration. A New Zealand jet boat ride will take you powering through narrow river gorges, almost brushing against sheer rock faces; or skimming across the surface of water channels that weave through the shingle banks of braided rivers.
Jet boating is suitable for all ages and levels of fitness, and can be enjoyed the whole year round. Some of the most exhilarating trips are available near Queenstown and Canterbury. Other areas include the Buller and Makarora regions in the South Island and the Rangitaiki, Whanganui and Waikato Rivers in the North Island.
KAYAKING - SALT WATER
Exploring New Zealand’s magnificent coastline by paddle power is an exercise and pure enjoyment. You can discover the coastal regions of national parks. You can paddle around islands and along fiords. You can even paddle a traditional Maori waka.
In the South Island, sea kayaking experiences can last half a day or several. Meander through the Marlborough Sounds, where waters are sheltered and people are few; follow the edge of the Abel Tasman National Park and hope for encounters with seals, dolphins and orca; get a sea level view of a fiord; or find your way around Okarito Lagoon, where you’ll see all kinds of wading birds.
In the North Island you can embark on a sea kayaking safari around the Bay of Islands, Waiheke Island or Wellington harbour. Sheltered water experiences can be found on the Hokianga and Tauranga Harbours. Paddling around a marine reserve, such as Goat Island, is always fun - beach your kayak and go for a snorkel.
From a quiet drift through the forested wilderness to a white-knuckled, wide-eyed journey down turbulent rapids, rafting covers the full adventure spectrum.
The mountains of New Zealand’s interior feed a myriad of fast flowing rivers that run through the forests to the sea. Grade 1 rivers offer relatively tranquil waters, while grade 5 rivers is regarded as an extreme sport. Trips ranging from a couple of hours to five days are led by qualified rafting guides who comply with established safety codes. All gear and special clothing is provided.
Rafting rivers in the North Island are mostly found in the central east coast areas of the Bay of Plenty and Hawke’s Bay. In the South Island, you’ll get the chance to try rafting around the resort town of Queenstown, Christchurch and on the West Coast. Some operators offer a combined helicopter and rafting experience. You can also try black water rafting through underground caves.
There are several areas of New Zealand’s coastline that are ideal for sailing adventures. Sheltered harbours open out to inshore cruising grounds dotted with picturesque islands, and there are popular coastal journeys with harbour-like bays conveniently spaced less than a day’s sail apart.
You can charter a vessel and sail her yourself or opt for a skipper and crew. Skippered voyages range from an afternoon tea and sightseeing sail on the harbour to several days on an ocean-going maxi racing yacht.
The style of boat varies from restored historic square riggers to New Zealand’s high-tech America’s Cup winners. You can get as hands on or as laid back as you wish.
The maritime reserves of the Bay of Islands, Hauraki Gulf and Marlborough Sounds are among the best areas for a holiday afloat. Auckland, known as the City of Sails, has the world’s largest number of boats per head of population.
Kaikoura, on the east coast of the South Island, is the main centre for whale watching in New Zealand. It’s one of the only places in the world where you can easily see sperm whales.
Sperm whales, the largest of the toothed whales, grow to over 15 metres in length. They dive deep into the ocean to feed. The resident population of sperm whales at Kaikoura can be seen all year round. Orca (killer whales) may be seen from December to March, and humpback whales in June and July. Several dolphin species are seen almost daily in the area.
Whales thrive close to Kaikoura because of its unusual submarine landscape. The continental shelf drops quickly into a number of extremely deep underwater canyons. In addition, a warm current from the north meets a colder one from the south. This causes nutrients from deep within the ocean to be carried upward, a phenomenon that helps to support all types of marine life from plankton and krill to dolphins and whales.
An encounter with dolphins always feels such a privilege. Their gentle nature is something most people admire, and something we would prefer to see more of in humans. These playful creatures appear keen to communicate. They’re quite a large animal, yet they present us with no danger. They are intelligent, but seem to be completely free of cruelty or greed. This may explain why swimming with dolphins has been rated by visitors as one of the top tourism experiences in the country.
Many dolphin species can be seen in New Zealand. There’s the common dolphin and the large bottle-nosed dolphin, which can often exceed three metres in length. The smaller dusky dolphin is less than two metres long and is very playful. The Hector’s dolphin is one of the world’s rarest and smallest dolphins, and is found only in our waters.
New Zealand offers a wide selection of dolphin watching and swimming tours. Operators take great care not to harm the dolphins, and some of the tour price often goes towards dolphin conservation.
These cute little creatures are bound to make you smile. In the sea they dive and swoop like other birds do in the air, and on land they march upright and waddle like officials in a parade.
You’ll find three species of penguin around New Zealand. The korora, or little blue penguin, is the world’s smallest. Standing only 25 centimetres tall, and weighing just over a kilogram, it is found in coastal waters and often comes ashore at night. The Marlborough Sounds, Akaroa Harbour, Oamaru and Stewart Island are excellent places to see little blues.
The rare hoiho, or yellow-eyed penguin, has a beautiful yellow eye band sweeping back from each yellow eye. You can find hoiho on the Otago Peninsula, just out of Dunedin, and along the South Otago Coast.
The Fiordland crested penguin is one of the world’s rarest. It is found in Fiordland and Stewart Island, in the deep south of the South Island.
Antarctic king and gentoo penguins can be viewed at an aquarium and Antarctic attraction in Auckland.
To learn more about travel to New Zealand, call the Travel Gal at 800 644-6659 or email Teresa@LuxuryHideaways.net
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