In little New Zealand, a country of 4 million in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, visitors get to experience idyllic pastoral scenes of rolling hills and grazing sheep – in between throwing themselves off bridges and careening around rivers in high powered jetboats, of course.

Here are eight exciting New Zealand adventures we think you’ll love.

Swimming with the fishes
At the National Aquarium of New Zealand visitors can don wetsuits and snorkelling gear for a half hour float in 1.5 million litres of fresh seawater pumped in from the ocean in the aquarium’s spectacular oceanarium. If you’re a certified diver you can experience diving in the tank to interact with the fish or feed a kahawhai or snapper.

Jet boating in the Shotover
Experience an iconic New Zealand adventure with a breathtaking jet boat ride through dramatic and narrow Shotover River Canyons. Just ten minutes from Queenstown, Shotover Jet began in 1965 and was one of Queenstown’s first adventure activities, and over the years is one of the experiences that has helped to put New Zealand on the global tourism map.

Lake Wakatipu Queenstown Bungy

Lake Wakatipu Queenstown Bungy Credit: AJ Hackett Bungy New Zealand

Home of the bungy
In November 1988, bungee (or bungy as they say in NZ) pioneers AJ Hackett and Henry van Asch took a leap of faith and launched the world’s first commercially operated bungee jumping site, off the historic Kawarau Bridge in Queenstown. AJ Hackett Bungy New Zealand now offers eight unique activities, from the Original Bungy Jump, to a unique Bridge Climb or Zipride or the country’s highest bungee jump.

New Zealand Zorb Rotorua

New Zealand Zorb Rotorua
Credit: Zorb Rotorua

Zorbing in Rotorua
The adventure hub of New Zealand, Rotorua is home to another iconic New Zealand experience – zorbing. Invented by the Kiwis in 1994, zorbing involves rolling downhill inside an orb made of transparent plastic, in single, double or triple rider configurations. It’s fast, furious, and super fun.

Caving for all levels
While New Zealand has some of the most challenging and spectacular caving systems in the world, even total novices can enjoy the beautiful underground scenery. First time cavers might opt to drift through a glow-worm grotto in Waitomo while more experienced spelunkers can tackle more exhilarating subterranean escapades.

New Zealand Queenstown-Queenstown

New Zealand Queenstown
Credit: Sara Orme

Who’s who in the zoo
In New Zealand’s only open-range zoo, Orana Wildlife Park in Christchurch, more than 400 animals of 70 different species are on show within 80 hectares of park-like grounds. Visitors can board a caged feeding wagon and ride through the African Lion Habitat, meet white rhinoceros or hand-feed a giraffe or lemur. If you can shell out a little extra, you’ll get to experience a personal encounter with a hand-raised cheetah accompanied by a keeper in the cheetah’s habitat. Plus, you’ll feel good about doing good – Orana is internationally renowned for its involvement in zoo-based breeding programmes for endangered exotic and native species, and by visiting you’re supporting their conservation work.

Walk in the footsteps of Hobbits
Get incredible access to Queenstown’s best scenery on the Nomad Safari Lord of the Rings Jeep Tour, a four wheel drive tour through the film’s incredible locations. Immerse yourself in Middle Earth with a knowledgeable local guide. Each tour also allows you to learn about the region’s gold mining history and visitors will get to pan for gold.

Bay of Islands Northland Adventure New Zealand

Bay of Islands Northland Adventure
Credit Adventure HQ

Perfect paddling
A guided New Zealand kayaking tour is a fantastic was to explore the country’s diverse coastline and inland waterways. Fresh water kayaks will like the Whanganui River, the country’s longest navigable waterway, while the Rangitaiki and Mohaka in the North Island or the Clutha and Kawarau in the South Island are best for whitewater enthusiasts. More tranquil options are available in lake paddling trips or trips that combine light hiking with paddling and snorkeling.