There’s much more to New Zealand than amazing scenery, sheep and the humble Kiwi, it is also a board-rider or adrenaline junkies dream! I was lucky enough to travel around the country for 3 months and see its potential for board riding perfection. The country itself is split over two main islands, and in typical Kiwi fashion the island most northerly is called the North Island, and the island south of that is, you guessed it, the South Island, all very easy. Both islands are covered with varying and spectacular terrain but each island has its own features. The North Island has New Zealand’s larger cities, Auckland and Wellington, with most of New Zealands’ population based here. The South Island is more famous for its more scenic appeal, as it has a multitude of mountain ranges, lakes, fjords and varying environments. Something to think about is that there are more people living in London than the whole of New Zealand, and the country is quite a bit larger than the British Isles! Maybe it’s this sparse population and the inevitable boredom that causes New Zealander’s to develop jumping off and out of things into available sports, and once you get there you realise everyone and their mums are into it! But this is great news, with so many dangerous sports being part of their culture there is very little red tape, if you want to do something stupid and dangerous it’s going to be much easier (and usually a lot cheaper) in New Zealand.
The sport I’m most passionate about is powerkiting, and the possibilities with this sport are endless in this country, kitesurfing on the many natural lagoons or world class wave sports, or even the fresh water inland lakes, landboarding on the rolling grass hills or endless plains, or snowkiting over any of the slopes and plateaus that see consistent snow and wind! We managed to get a lot of kiting in over both islands in all manner of spots, and without a doubt some of the most spectacular locations, nothing can beat driving onto a white sand beach, rigging up and flying out to a 4 mile long sandbar with butter-flat clear water, filled with stingrays darting around underneath you (and the occasional penguin) and riding all day, only to have the same for 4 days running! The beauty of it all is how accessible spots are, drive straight onto the beach, or park up on the seafront all-day (don’t even need to think about parking charges) All this makes the sport so much easier and the hunt for great spots that much easier and exciting. If you want to learn more about NZ kiteboarding and the MANY spots check out: http://www.nzkiteboarding.com/
If you prefer to get wet without the kite then you’ll be glad to find out Surfing in NZ is fantastic! New Zealand has 9824 miles of coastline and a majority of that is facing East or West towards the Tasman Sea or Pacific Ocean. These both have a great reach and so get very consistent surf all year around, there are world renowned surf spots over both islands but we checked out Raglan on the West coast of the North Island. This is a thriving surf community town with three world class breaks nearby, we spent 3 days surfing there and were gifted with great surf, great sun and the locals were extremely welcoming and friendly. Hiring a board was very cheap; we found a custom shaper who hired so we grabbed great quality epoxy boards instead of the usual hired boards. If you’re interested in finding out more on surfing in NZ and the breaks check out: http://surf.co.nz/
Longboarding has a huge following in New Zealand, I put this down to two things: amazingly endless roads with hardly any cars on them (can drive for most of a day and see only 1 car); and a lot of downhills! The largest communities for longboarding are based in Auckland, Wellington and Queenstown and have access to some of the best urban and rural tarmac playgrounds you can imagine. Just search online to find other riders and great spots, but here is a video to show what you may have to live up to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DgVo1IAVrDM
There’s still plenty to do when the weather turns cold. New Zealand has many more ski resorts and snow fields than you’d imagine, there is also more backcountry and the largest heli-skiing areas in the world! On the North island you have Mt Raupehu , the largest ski resort in NZ and also on-top of an active volcano. We spent a day snowboarding here and it was a great resort, and super cheap to hire everything! The South Island has ski fields littered all along the â€œSouthern Alpsâ€ with the best around Lake Wanaka and Queenstown, or if heli-skiing is your thing then there are also 7 skiable glaciers to pick from! To find out more about snowboarding in NZ check out: http://snow.co.nz/ New Zealand is a great place to never have any downtime; if you can’t do one sport the chances are the conditions will be good for another, and if you can’t do any boardsports you have to pick from the endless list of alternatives, skydiving, bungee jumping, jetboating, paragliding, speed flying, scuba diving, the list goes on. As well as all the exciting things to do, many of the locations that offer these options have a multitude of bars, clubs and restaurants so when you decide to call it a day it’s never too difficult to find somewhere to unwind. A world class location with a world class variety of dangerous things to keep you entertained.
Content and photos: David Robertson