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The 5 Most Extreme Adventure Destinations Around the Globe

extreme adventure globe 6Fancy a summer holiday with a difference? Why not check out these adrenaline packed destinations to get your extreme adventure fix! With adventures for the faint-hearted to all-out thrill seekers alike, these destinations will offer you a trip you won’t forget…

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Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown is a mecca for thrill seekers from all over the planet. Whether it’s tackling New Zealand’s highest bungee jump, chucking yourself out of a plane or hitting the slopes in winter – you are guaranteed to find adventure in this beautiful town.

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Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Pull on your scuba gear and discover one of the natural wonders of the world.

Swim alongside sharks, manta rays and fish of all sizes and colours. You don’t even have to be PADI qualified, just take a hold of your guide and jump in!

If you fancy keeping dry, why not check out the AJ Hackett bungee jump in Cairns?

Lake District, United Kingdom 

You could say that battling the weather in the Lake District is extreme enough. But you won’t be worrying about the traditional British drizzle as the Lake District offers you plenty of distractions.

Take your pick from Ghyll Scrambling (navigating your way up or down a gorge with plenty of obstacles to overcome on the way), Bog Snorkelling (yup, it’s what it says on the tin), abseiling, rock-climbing, mountain biking… The list goes on!

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The Alps, Europe

Stretching across eight countries, the Alps are bound to offer an extreme adventure perfect for you. You can ski in Austria, glacier walk in France or try out canyoning in Italy to name but a few!

Don’t think that the Alps are just a winter destination, extreme adventures are to be had year-round.

Tara River, Montenegro

Montenegro is still relatively undiscovered as a tourist destination. The area is stunning and the best, and most extreme, way to take in the scenery is to go white water rafting down the Tara River.

Health and safety regulations here are lax to say the least, so just pop on a helmet, grab an oar and a friendly guide and don’t forget to hold on tight!

Have you been on an extreme adventure holiday? Let me know in the comments below or via my social media pages!

Lake Taupo Sky-Dive

Taupo is stunning. You are greeted by towering Mount Doom (or Ngauruhoe for the non-LOTR fans…), sitting proudly amongst jutting mountains which gather around Taupo’s majestic lake. The lake itself could accommodate the entirety of Singapore and is the largest lake in Australasia.

Not content with viewing this natural marvel from ground-level, I wanted to take to the sky.

Our sky-dive company (Skydive Taupo) picked us up from our hostel and whizzed us to the airfield. We excitedly signed our lives away and pulled ourselves into attractive red jumpsuits, harnesses, a hat and some rather funky goggles. Not even Beyonce could pull off sky-dive chic…

We then had to ‘umm’ and ‘ahh’ about the package we wanted to fork out on. One thing sky-diving isn’t, is cheap. However, it is a once in a lifetime/YOLO activity so I felt that if I was going to splash the cash anywhere, then it had to be here. I would just have to cut back on McDonalds and double rooms for a while…

I chose the $499 (£250) bundle which included a jump from 15,000ft (the highest you can go here), a t-shirt, photos and a video. Jumping from 15,000ft gives you a minute of freefall- the most exhilarating part of the sky-dive- and is definitely worth spending that little bit more for.

After we had handed over the cash we met our tandem buddy and our own personal videographer who would be jumping alongside us. My tandem buddy was very skinny images of me squashing him and dragging him to earth began to flick through my mind…

Luckily the day was clear and bright, promising amazing views. Sky-dives are weather dependent and New Zealand’s weather is about as predictable as ours, which is worth bearing in mind if you are on a tight schedule.

Clipped into our tandem buddies, we boarded a tiny plane which was unlike any I had ever been in. Instead of seats there are two benches and a roll-up door, enabling a quick and easy exit.

Lake Taupo Skydive Plane

It takes about 20 minutes to reach 15,000ft which is simply ridiculous. How could I be about to chuck myself out of a plane which had been climbing solidly for 20 minutes?! When you are heading to this altitude you can physically feel the air thinning and everyone is given oxygen masks, which is an experience in itself!

When you reach your desired altitude the plane’s engine changes and you begin to cruise peacefully above the spectacular scenery below. Apparently, on a good day, you are able to see both sides of New Zealand, right across from west to east.

Now for the scary bit.

If I have a tip for you, it would be to jump first. Bite the bullet and chuck yourself out before anyone else has a chance. The worst and scariest bit of the entire experience was watching the people going before me, dropping out of the plane and falling like stones.

When it is your turn to go, you are shuffled to the ledge and before you know it, you’re flying through the sky, G-Force rattling your cheeks and wind whipping your face.

Sky Dive New Zealand

Lake Taupo Sky Dove

Sky DIve

Before I could even catch my breath, my video guy sailed towards me, spinning me around and encouraging me to pose for the camera. Probably as weird as a selfie can get…

Crazy Sky Dive Selfie

And before you know it, the freefall is over and you are hanging gracefully from a parachute. In sky-diving videos it always looks like the parachute is deployed violently, and potentially painfully, but in reality I didn’t notice anything but a change of pace. In the place of pure, intense adrenalin, was a calming serenity and an echoing silence. The view was breathtaking.

Sky Dive Parachute

Lake Taupo Sky Dive Lake TaupoThe freefall had been incredible, but floating silently above New Zealand’s famous countryside was something different entirely. Gently winding closer and closer to the ground, I didn’t ever want to touch the ground.

Unfortunately I did, and graceful it was not…

I would encourage anyone to sky-dive, the adrenalin rush is amazing and the canopy ride is stunning, the best of both worlds.

Get out there and experience everything.

The Facts

Location: Taupo, New Zealand.

Price: $499 (£250) for a 15000ft bundle package.

Fear Factor: 3.5/5

More Info: www.skydivetaupo.co.nz

Black Water Rafting

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I was in a pitch black cave in the middle of a river system in the North of New Zealand… in a rubber ring. To say it felt surreal would be a massive understatement.

To make matters just that little bit weirder, the ceiling began to slowly erupt in a cacophony of light. We appeared to be floating under the night sky, the stars perfectly visible and twinkling fiercely above.

The only problem was that we were still buried in the bowels of the earth, cocooned in the ancient limestone walls.

What glittered above us was not the beginnings of the solar system, it was a blanket of Glowworms. It was one of the most breathtaking sights I had ever seen.

I had travelled to Waitomo, on New Zealand’s North Island. Above ground, Waitomo is a quiet, unassuming town with a pub, a couple of hostels and, well that’s it really.

What makes Waitomo truly special is what is hidden just outside the town, a network of caves, one of which is home to thousands of Glowworms. The town is a must-see, stop-off for many tourists and is a scheduled detour for the Kiwi Experience, who offer discount visits to the cave.

There are a couple of options when it comes to Black Water Rafting (tubing in a cave, unique to NZ). These vary in length and extreme-factor and mightily in budget. The two main options are the Black Labyrinth ($95), a 3.5 hour timid tour or the monster 5.5 hour Black Abyss adventure ($185).

Unfortunately, New Zealand’s array of available adventures had cleared out the bank but I desperately scraped together the pennies in order to get into the caves anyway I could. I could only muster enough cash for the cheaper Black Labyrinth option so that would have to do.

An 8.45 am wake-up call isn’t the best way to start the day but I was promised that this would be worth it. The morning was drizzly and cold and the thought of slipping myself into a damp wetsuit was enough to make me want to crawl back under my warm, fluffy duvet.

Black Water Rafting

Geared up in wetsuits and helmets, we boarded a bus which zipped us 10 minutes down the road to the Ruakiri Cave System. Here, we all got out and chose a tube, using a Beyonce-style bum measurement system i.e. squeezing your behind into as many tubes as possible until you find the right fit.  (It would be unladylike of me to reveal the size of my rather gargantuan tube…)

Black Water Rafting Waitomo

 

Black Water Rafting Waitomo Caves

We then had to do a practice jump into a freezing cold river. We were instructed to hold on to our tubes and jump backwards into the ice-cold torrent. If I wasn’t awake then, I was now.  After our initial soaking we headed to the cave through a tiny opening- this isn’t a trip for the claustrophobic.

Black Water Rafting New Zealand

Inside the cave you jump, float and scramble through the winding stalactite studded cave system. On the more extreme version, the jumps are higher and more dangerous and you have the opportunity to whiz through the caves on a zip-line. Black Abyss is not for the faint-hearted but the Black Labyrinth tour provides enough thrills and, of course, that amazing Glowworm experience, for your buck.

After your trip you are treated to complimentary tomato soup and bread roll, you will definitely need it after this goose-bump inducing escapade.

An extreme activity with a twist.

The Facts

Location: Waitomo, New Zealand

Price: Black Labyrinth- $95/£48, Black Abyss- $185/£93.

Fear Factor: 2/5-4/5

More Info: www.waitomo.com

Jumping into the Unknown… Literally

I woke up feeling sick. This was the day I had been anticipating with equal amounts of dread and excitement. Well, probably more dread…

Today was bungy day.

I was staying in the heart of Queenstown, the birthplace of the bungy jump. AJ Hackett and his crazy crew brought the ancient tradition of bungy jumping to the commercial market in 1988. They now offer a variety of different jumps and canyon swings, from the original site at Kawarau Bridge to the big’un, The Nevis. I had gone for the latter.

Not one to do things by halves, I had paid the non-refundable fee to allow myself to be chucked 132m into a gorge on the other side of the world. Oh, and I am terrified of heights.

The day begins at the AJ Hackett branch in the town. Here, you are weighed (a horrific revelation after a diet of cheesy pasta and Fergburgers), and then bundled into a 4×4. Music blares from the radio, a mix of high tempo heavy dance tracks which attempt to drown out the nausea which is swiftly rising inside of you.

The jump site (which also feels like it may be your final resting place), is located just outside the town up a death-defying dirt track. The ascent up to the site would be horrendous on any other day but I was trying so hard not to be sick that I barely registered the vertical drop-off and uneven graveled road.

When you reach the site you are plugged into harnesses and carted off across the canyon on a carriage suspended hundreds of metres from the canyon floor. If you’re not paralyzed by fear by now then you will be when you reach the central platform. The jump site hangs in the middle of the canyon and worryingly wobbles as you move around it. There is even a glass panel in the floor. But I warn you, DON’T LOOK DOWN.

You throw yourself off the platform in weight order as this allows the rope to stretch properly. Being close to the front of the queue didn’t really improve how I was feeling at the time. Fat and terrified. Great!

Watching others jump is probably one of the hardest things you have to do. They sit in a precariously shaky chair whilst their feet are bound before hobbling to the edge and launching themselves into the unknown.

The guides explain that you have to physically turn yourself upright after the jump, pulling on a cord after a couple of bounces. Most of this information flows straight over my head but I panic that I am going to forget these important instructions.

Now it’s my turn.

I think I’m going to pass out.

All I can muster is a very choice selection of swear words. I’ll save you the details.

The guides aren’t allowed to give you a handy push off the ledge, it is all down to you. Shuffling onto the tiny platform went against every fibre of my being. My body screamed at me, tried to force me to turn back. A bungy jump is the most unnatural thing in the world.

Saying that, it turns out that if someone counts down from three and yells ‘JUMP’, I follow instruction. That’s quite worrying.

What follows is 8.5 seconds of free fall. 8.5 seconds which pass both slowly and in a whirlwind. The best 8.5 seconds you’ll ever have.

And then its all over.

Somehow I had managed to position myself upright and was now serenely drifting over the canyon, soaking up the scenery and buzzing with the adrenalin which rattled my whole body.

This adrenalin rush lasts for the whole day, through every excitable re-telling of the tale of when you took on The Nevis and won. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat.

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Nevis Bungy

Nevis Bungy New Zealand

AJ Hackett Bungy

Bungy freefall

The Facts

Location: Queenstown, New Zealand

Price: $260 New Zealand Dollars (£130) which includes all transportation to the site and there’s a free t-shirt chucked in too. $45 (£23) for photos, $45 for video or $80 (£41) for both.

Fear Factor: 5/5

More Info: www.bungy.co.nz

The ‘Extreme’ Series

Sky Diving New Zealand

I was only planning on writing one post on my favorite extreme activities but when I started writing, I found it hard to stop!

I’ve written a piece on white water rafting here, but have so far neglected to mention my other stories of New Zealand’s other crazy past-times.

So, I have decided to dedicate a whole series to New Zealand’s mental extreme side and shed a light on my experience of it.

For the next three Mondays I will be dedicating a post to three different Kiwi experiences. The good ol’ bungee, the exhilarating sky-dive and the surreal black water rafting. I will be laying out the costs, ranking the fear factor and giving you guys the low-down on the experience itself.

To introduce ‘The ‘Extreme’ Series’, I’ll start by sharing my Top 5 Tips on how to make the most of your extreme activity.

Hold on to your hat folks!

Top 5 Tips

1- The scarier the better! I have a severe phobia of heights, specifically of falling from a height. So what better way to knock this fear on the head than doing a bungee jump! Sounds mental but trust me on this one. The more scared you are, the bigger and better the adrenalin rush will be afterwards.

2- Been there, done that, now get the t-shirt! This is a once in a lifetime experience so why not stock up on all the merchandise you can! Sure, it’s pretty expensive but you’ll look cool when you wear that slogan tee down the gym back home. Or a total ‘gap yah’ dick, but hey, you sky-dived!

3- Location, location, location. New Zealand is the homeland of adventure and extreme activities. There is probably no better (or safer) place on earth to get stuck into an extreme activity. Once you get there it is essential that you choose the right place to do your activity. You’ve already forked out a small fortune to do this, so why wouldn’t you choose the most amazing place to do it? Sky-diving over Lake Taupo is beautiful, and I obviously only throw myself head first into scenic gorges when I bungee. Not from a crummy crane on a paved car park, thank you!

4- Shop around! Loads of companies are going to try to vie for your business, especially when there is an abundance of activities concentrated in one place, like Queenstown for example. If you want to do the lot, then it may be cheaper buying them in a bundle and if you know you want to buy some merchandise then there are loads of deals available for that too. If you are travelling New Zealand on one of the famous bus tours (eg. Kiwi Experience or Magic Bus) then your tour operator will usually get you the best deal.

5- Accept the cost. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity so make sure you budget for it accordingly. There is no point opting for the cheapest and shortest free-fall time on your sky-dive, it just isn’t the same. Check out your options in advance so you can prepare yourself for shelling out such a sizeable chunk from your travel fund. You may weep as you empty your pockets but if you’ve picked right it will so be worth it!

Hopefully I’ve given you a tantalizing taste of what is to come! Pop back on Monday for the first instalment of ‘The ‘Extreme’ Series’, starting with the one and only bungee jump!

In the meantime, what is the most extreme thing you have ever done? Leave a comment below or get in contact via Twitter @StudentRucksack.

See ya Monday!

Bungy New Zealand

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White Water Rafting at River Valley, New Zealand

White Water Rafting New Zealand

Having rafted three times before I thought I was prepared for what New Zealand had to throw at me.

I was wrong.

We were up bright and early to meet our ‘River Guides’. I was staying at River Valley Lodge, nestled in a deep gorge surrounded by mountains and countryside on the banks of the Rangitikei River AKA Lord of the Rings territory. When the rest of our group had arrived our guides handed out a form to fill in about our emergency contacts (not the most comforting of starts!) and handed us each a wet suit. Squeezing into a damp wet suit seemed like the worst thing to be doing this early in the morning, especially when it had began to drizzle persistently outside.

After we had changed we squashed ourselves into a mini bus and drove twenty minutes up the road to our drop-off point. After a quick safety briefing (don’t die) we clambered aboard our rafts and, with the help of our instructor, set off down the river. The supposed beautiful scenery was clouded in grey drizzle but the rutting gorges still seemed to hold an atmospheric beauty.

In anticipation for the Grade 5 rapids further down the river, our guide started us off on some Grade 3s. Being quite nervous, he reassured us that these starter rapids would simply get us used to the feel of the river and how to handle the raft.

He was wrong.

This was the first near death experience of my trip.

As we braced ourselves for the first rapid, our guide had taken this opportunity to try a new line down the rapid which went terribly wrong. After an initial jolt, the raft tipped completely, throwing all of us into the fast-paced water. I had no idea what was happening and had winded myself badly on impact with the water. Unable to breathe I was forced underwater and towards the rocks on the riverbank. I desperately tried to remember our safety briefing, (try to keep your legs floating on the top of the water- this way they won’t get caught on any debris). Gasping for air, I finally reached the surface, clinging onto a rock for dear life. One of the other rafts had come to rescue us, turning the capsized raft up the right way and freeing the people trapped underneath it. They beckoned over at me to swim to the raft which was definitely easier said than done with no air left inside of you!

Scarred for life, we clambered back aboard the raft and spent the next couple of hours clinging on as tightly as we could. The rest of the trip was not without incident, at one point we were caught on a rock with a steep drop-off into the water below, an oar was snapped, knuckles cracked against the gorge-side and I nearly fell in yet again, only to be pulled back from the brink by the instructor. In comparison to all of this, the Grade 5 rapids were a walk in the park!

Completely adrenalin-drained, we squelched back to the lodge and were greeted with a piping hot chocolate. Nestling by the fire we were able to laugh about our adventures on the raft. They just won’t be repeated anytime soon!