Sure, you can jump off ledges, dive out of planes, and roll down hills in giant inflatable balls – but you don’t NEED to be a hardcore adventurer to appreciate the best of nature here. You might, like me, have decidedly average fitness and nerves of cotton wool. So if intrepid multi-day hikes and epic ski sessions aren’t really your thing, read on to find out how to get your fix of amazing sights and scenery with minimal exertion…
A waka tour in Northland
You can almost imagine that you’re travelling back in time as you paddle a traditional canoe along the Waitangi River, taking in the flora and fauna along the banks. I won’t lie, rowing is definitely a workout for the arms, but at least there’s a group of you to help spread the load.
Horse riding along Auckland’s west coast
Imagine trotting down a windswept beach as waves lap at the shore. You too can have your own movie-worthy scene when horse riding out at Muriwai. (And yep, these treks are A-OK for total newbies.) Take in the black sand of the west coast beaches, then cross the sand dunes and explore the Woodhill Forest.
Walk to Cathedral Cove in the Coromandel
The walk to Cathedral Cove takes about half an hour, and the cliff/ocean views along the way are just spectacular. Of course, the payoff at the end is the cove itself! There’s a secluded beach, where you can sun and swim all day and enjoy the pristine environment. The track does have some fairly steep up and down parts that get a bit rough, so take your time navigating the path – but it’s well worth it.
Ride through the redwoods in Rotorua
The Whakarewarewa Forest is packed with biking trails that cater to all levels of rider, including beginners and kids. Ride through towering redwoods, native fern canopies, and keep an eye out for the odd lake and mountain view too while you’re out on the tracks.
Take the Wellington cable car
A must-do in Wellington, with basically no effort required! Take the historic red cable car up the hill toward the botanic gardens, observatory, planetarium, and sweeping views of the city and harbour.
Punting on the Avon in Christchurch
One iconic way to see the Garden City is in fact from the water. Luckily, the professional punters are the ones doing all the steering and poling as you travel along the Avon River in a flat-bottomed boat. Just lean back and soak up the sights, from the boat sheds to the botanic gardens and more.
Take the Treetops walk in Hokitika
Take a walk through the West Coast forest – 40 metres above ground, that is. Making your way along narrow suspension bridges high in the air lets you get amongst the treetops and get a whole new perspective.
Heli hiking in Queenstown
If you’re keen to get away from busy ski slopes, then snow shoeing will be right up your alley. (Seriously, if you can walk, you can snow shoe – it’s a dead simple alternative to snowboarding or skiing.) You’ll take a helicopter ride high up to the winter wonderland that is the untouched parts of the mountains, strap on some gear and start making tracks across unbroken snow. It’s absolutely silent, stunning and spectacular.