Sure, everyone can appreciate a laid-back drop of the good stuff at a winery, the serenity of a hot air balloon ride, or relaxing amongst islands on a sailing cruise – but what about those of us who enjoy our experiences with a little extra “spice”?
Australia & New Zealand are both countries which are renowned for some epic adrenaline activities, and those looking for a rush will be spoiled for choice. But what are some of the experiences Oz & NZ have to offer which will truly test your sensitivity of stomach and strength of bowel?
We take a look at 10 of the scariest (or, “most thrilling” for the glass-half-fullers out there) activities Australia & New Zealand have to offer here. You’ll want to be wearing your brown pants for these ones…
10. Kaituna River Rafting
Where is it? near Rotorua, New Zealand
White water rafting can be a scenic and leisurely way to explore some truly picturesque sections of Australia & New Zealand’s back countries full of happy smiles and family-friendly bumps… or it can also be a challenging journey with your little inflated piece of rubber at the mercy of the power of water that’s akin to being thrown in a washing machine.
While both countries have a range of epic rafting destinations catering for all skill and ability levels, those with the testicular fortitude to “take the plunge” would be hard pressed to match the ultimate plummet that the Rotorua region’s Kaituna River offers.
Home to the world’s highest commercially-rafted waterfall, the Kaituna can actually be done in a more forgiving grade 2 to 3 course for the sane among us. However, it’s the drop down the 7-metre-high Tutea Falls which upgrades this experience from merely a “fun splash” to a “holdmepleaseOMG”.
Of course, safety precautions are always in place to keep cheers in place of screams wherever possible, however capsizing is sometimes inevitable with such a big drop. And isn’t getting soaked half the fun, anyway?
9. Abseiling Forward Run
Where is it? Melbourne, Australia
For those for whom merely climbing up the side of a regular mountain just isn’t enough, could we possibly interest you in running down seven stories of a building face-first instead?
Those in Melbourne who want to roleplay a suicidal window washer who’s thrown in the towel can take part in “Rap Jumping”, an adventure sport that combines a mixture of rappelling and abseiling. You’ll be heading at a near-free-fall with your eyes directly on the pavement below, with your body screaming that it hates you for basically everything you’re doing right now.
It’s an experience that’s been described as “intense” and “the most extreme thing I’ve ever done”, but also being “truly memorable” and an “epic sense of achievement”, so your miles (or stories?) may vary.
Of course, it helps that it’s got a flawless safety record dating back to its commercial inception back in 1989 – but that doesn’t help the bladder too much when a harness and a fixed rope is all that you have to counter gravity, does it?
Try it yourself, and be the judge.
8. DC Hypercoaster at MovieWorld
Where is it? Gold Coast, Australia
As the “home of thrills” in Australia, the Gold Coast’s theme parks have been providing various twists, turns, drops, rolls and other gravity-defying rides for decades, and are continually trying to one-up one another in terms of which crazy-fun way they can challenge your body next.
What better way, then, to maximise what’s possible within a theme park than with the Southern Hemisphere’s tallest, longest, and fastest hypercoaster? Enter the DC Rivals Hypercoaster at MovieWorld on the Gold Coast, which launched at the end of 2017 and offers riders a top speed of 115km per hour.
It’s the largest rollercoaster ever built in Australia, with a height of just under 62 metres and 1.4km long which means you get far more “bang for your buck” in terms of ride length than queuing for your average roller coaster.
The ride route features a massive, twisting first drop at a stomach-churning 89 degree angle, high speed bends, twisting hills and helixes to keep your body wondering just what the heck is going on throughout. Just in case knowing what is actually happening is a little too mellow, hop in one of the rear seats and do the whole thing going backwards instead. You know, for science.
7. Cage of Death at Crocosaurus Cove
Where is it? Darwin, Northern Territory
The Northern Territory’s most famed animal icon, crocodiles are often-misunderstood animals that stand as living relics of prehistoric times – the massive reptiles are practically living dinosaurs. What is understood, however, is that they have big bloody teeth, and their saltwater variety which frequent the NT rank among the most massive of their kind.
For an up-close dental inspection of some truly titanic reptiles, head to Crocosaurus Cove in the heart of Darwin and feel silly as you voluntarily present your ticket to something called the “Cage of Death” while thinking that sounds like a good idea all along.
Strap on your nerdy goggles and hop inside your flimsy glass cylinder as you’re submerged into the water alongside a 5-metre-plus-long saltwater croc who eyes you up as the ultimate appetiser before his daily evening meal. Feeling timid? No worries, bring a mate along for the dive and double your flesh on offer up to “main course” level instead.
During the 15 minute dive the park’s handlers will give the crocs a taste of red meat just to stir their hunger up that little bit more, grabbing some happy snaps of your pathetic faces to admire in future.
Hot tip: if you want the glass containing your body to stay intact, don’t mock the croc with cries of “Crikey”.
6. Shotover Canyon Swing
Where is it? Queenstown, New Zealand
Queenstown has a reputation as one of the world’s great Adventure Capitals (TM), so it’s only fitting that it’s also home to the highest canyon swing in the world, where fellow nutjobs can unite and plummet over what would be for normal people just a wonderful view to soak in.
Located on the outskirts of Queenstown above the picturesque Shotover River – perhaps most famously used for jet boat rides – the Shotover Canyon Swing comes with a range of different swing styles each with different “underpants” ratings to give an indication of intensity.
These come with such tantalising names as This Is Sparta, Gimp Boy Goes to Hollywood and simply “The Chair”, which are all fairly self-explanatory in their ridiculousness. Pairs are welcome to share the pain together, however picking a partner who’s not a screamer comes highly advised if you value future use of your eardrum.
Once the swing starts, you’ll be launched off a 109 metre-high cliff edge and free-fall at speeds of up to 160km per hour as gravity plays with your foolish bodies, swinging in a 200m arc before it slows down and you’re winched back up to the top.
And, just to embarrass yourselves further, the whole thing will be filmed as an everlasting showcase of your high-pitched squeal for the world to mock.
5. The Giant Drop at Dreamworld
Where is it? Gold Coast, Australia
It’s one of the simplest rides of any theme park in Australia, yet it’s not merely the way your stomach pushes up into your mouth begging to escape while dropping to Earth that makes Dreamworld’s Giant Drop such a kick in the funny parts.
It’s the anticipation that’s the killer here. The slow crawl as you’re raised gradually up from ground-level to a “why-am-I-doing-this?” 39 stories high above the ground, and the sitting suspended there for several agonising seconds wondering when something’s going to happen, are just as scary as the fall itself.
Of course, falling at 135km per hour as your body digs into the safety supports trying and failing to defeat gravity is no slouch, either. There’s an estimated 3.5 G’s worth of force in play here, and while it feels almost certain you’ll crash through the ground and come out the other side in China, the magnetic breaks kick in and bring it to a remarkably smooth stop at the bottom.
While the “slingshot” of its neighbouring Tower of Terror is no slouch in the scare sweepstakes either, the way the Giant Drop teases you into thinking “everythingwillbeOK.gif” before casually discarding you to the ground like a piece of litter separates it from any other theme park thrill ride Australia has to offer. Because The Simple Things In Life Are Often The Best.
Where is it? Multiple locations, Australia & New Zealand
Australia and New Zealand are teeming with locations that are picturesque enough from the ground, but take on a whole new level of beauty when viewed high above. While the timid (or is that smart?) among us may instead opt for a leisurely scenic flight to take these views in, adrenaline junkies looking to take the ultimate plunge are spoiled for choice in Oz & NZ.
Both countries rank amongst the very best in the world for skydiving – the variation in landscapes makes for a wonderful selection of backdrops over which to face one of life’s most highly regarded thrills. From stunning beach panoramas to landscapes riddled with lake and alpine mountain, skydivers are spoiled for choice with the various dropzones on offer, and each provides its own unique take on the free-fall-and-glide.
Want some incredible water and beach coastline? Jump out of a perfectly good airplane from Airlie Beach in Queensland and check out the Great Barrier Reef and the Whitsunday Islands from the most ballsy of angles. Prefer things white and wonderful? Both Queenstown and Fox Glacier in New Zealand provide epic alpine backdrops of snow-capped peaks looking like they’re going to bite you out of the sky.
More of a fan of checking out internationally-renowned icons from high above? Skydives over both the Great Ocean Road and Uluru / Ayers Rock will allow you to scope out two of the 7 Wonders of Australia (as voted by you in our national poll in 2018) from an entirely different perspective.
“Life changing” is one of the most common remarks made by first-time skydivers after facing their fears, and for those looking to tick off a must-do, Australia and New Zealand offer a cavalcade of awesome spots in which to do just that.
3. Aerobatic Flights
Where is it? Gold Coast & Central NSW Coast, Australia
A bit of Jetstar turbulence ain’t got nothing on these bad boys. It’s amazing to think that military pilots used to rely on prop planes to win wars – luckily for us, nowadays hopping in a Tiger Moth or similar-era aircraft doesn’t bring with it a hail of bullets.
Nevertheless, the feeling of entrusting your body to a hunk of metal and fairly dated flight technology while performing rolls, twists, loops and more is sure to challenge even the most hearty of passengers’ constitution. This is exactly what aerobatic flight experiences offer, with the chance to hop in alongside an experienced pilot as they pull off all sorts of death-defying stunts as the G-forces kick in.
These aircraft are incredibly manoeuvrable and responsive, with pilots exploiting their capabilities to the fullest. They’re always willing to only take things as far as you feel comfortable with, however, with the level of extremity scaling accordingly with the strength of your cajones.
Of course, twisting and twirling through the skies isn’t the only highlight of such experiences – they’re incredibly scenic as well, with uninhibited 360 degree views of some striking stretches of coastline. Aerobatic flights above both the Gold Coast and central NSW coast (near Belmont) are highly popular, and bring to live just how long beaches in each spot expand off into the distance.
Aerobatic flights are a true “bucket list” experience – you haven’t truly flown until you’ve flown upside-down, after all.
2. Bungy Jumping
Where is it? Cairns, Australia
Bungy, bungee, bunji (ok, maybe not)… however you choose to spell it, tying what basically equates to a giant rubber band around your legs and jumping off a cliff may have seemed like insanity pre-1980’s when New Zealand’s AJ Hackett burst onto the scene, but now bungee jumping has become a commonplace rite of passage.
Ever since that point, they’ve bought the unmatchable rush of bungee jumping to multiple spots around the world – and this includes Australia, with Queensland’s Cairns deriving much of its reputation as an adventure hub from AJ Hackett choosing it as their base of operations.
Of course, the mere act of jumping off the side of a platform just wasn’t enough for those crazy Kiwis, and nowadays adventurous travellers can take the plunge from Cairns’ 50m-high platform choosing from 16 different jump types to satisfy their adrenaline cravings.
There’s a veritable menu of rushes available that consists of such bowel-loosening styles as the Backward Elevator, Titanic, Fruit Bat and even a BMX which lets you just quietly ride an actual bike off the edge – as you do.
The bungee tower has long since become an essential visit for adrenaline seekers visiting the tropics, and sits around 20 minutes’ drive outside of Cairns city with hotel pickups provided for those without their own vehicle. Those with a slightly lower level of daring can also opt for the Minjin Swing experience – a mildly less intense option that’s designed to be experienced with a friend or two along for the ride (or is that drop?).
1. Swim with Great White Sharks
Where is it? Port Lincoln, Australia
Naturalists will tell you that the Great White Shark is a beautiful and misunderstood creature that receives an unfairly bad wrap – and that’s all well and good until you remember the fact that they’re one of nature’s most efficiently-designed killing machines. There’s a reason the shark has remained largely unchanged and survived mass extinctions for hundreds of millions of years; when you’re good at something, stick to it after all.
Thus it’s only natural that entering the underwater kingdom of these apex predators with a bit of steel all that’s between you and a gaping mouth full of rows of massive teeth ranks high on the Aussie pants-wetting scale. Enter the coastal town of Port Lincoln in South Australia, around a 7 hour drive from capital Adelaide which has become renowned for its aquatic experiences – particularly its shark dives.
There’s a reason this was the site all of the action scenes from Jaws were shot at this location. The abundance of Great Whites that populate the waters here has made it a hotspot for coming face to face with these sleek beasts, and shark drive experiences for those willing to fork out the cash rank amongst Australia’s most desired thrill adventures.
Participants can choose between a purpose-built, submerged viewing cage, or for those will more normal levels of self-preservation, a unique “Aqua Sub” which allows underwater viewing (complete with drinks) while staying dry makes for an alternative option.
Plus it’s much easier to stare into the jaws of death once the beer muscles have kicked in.
In addition, if you’re looking for all the top adventure and adrenaline activities around the rest of Australia, check out our main “extreme” page to browse and book online!