Many young tourists are attracted to New Zealand because of the exciting adventures that are easily available.
Young New Zealanders have developed these activities because of the special thrill there is in facing and overcoming danger. The adventures can take place on land, in the air or in the water.
Water sports are very popular. The many fast-flowing rivers provide the opportunity for rafting -- particularly in the Bay of Plenty and around Queenstown. Trips can be from a few hours to several days, and a trained guide stays with the group to ensure safety and provide all the necessary equipment. If the trip follows the river underground through caves, it is called black-water rafting. On these rivers you can also go jet-boating . You will have to fasten your seat belt before powering through narrow rocky places or swooping along shallow streams.
A recent activity is canyoning, where the adventure junkie goes down rivers, waterfalls and rock faces all provided by nature. For those who like diving, it is possible to see mako sharks close up from inside the safety of a cage lowered into the water.
There are adventures on land, too. Wind-powered go-karts race along sandy beaches at high speed, and zorbing (a Kiwi invention) has you strapped inside a plastic ball that rolls downhill at speeds of up to 50km per hour.
To experience thrills in the air, there is fly-by-wire, another Kiwi invention. In this sport you sit in a car and swing to and fro like a pendulum. The thermal air currents in the central Otago region are perfect for parapenting -- a mixture of hang-gliding and parachuting. You sit in a harness under a small parachute that you can steer, moving along on the air currents. Sky-diving is even more thrilling, starting with the 30 seconds of free fall at the alarming speed of 200km per hour when you jump from the plane, but then the parachute opens and you drift down and enjoy the view. A combination activity that is most enjoyable is heli-skiing. You go up the mountains in the helicopter, and land at the top of a good slope. Then you simply ski down. There is a 10-kilometre run from the Tasman Glacier in Mt Cook National Park.
All these adventure sports require fitness, enthusiasm and some cash -- and a bit of craziness. Information is available at any tourist office, or online, at www.tourism.net.nz.