A new book by Shane Boocock features the best of adventure tourism in Auckland
As editor-at-large of Let's Travel magazine, Shane Boocock walks his talk - or rather leaps, rides, skis and flies the adventure activities he writes about every two months.
But when he went looking for a comprehensive guide book on New Zealand's adventure tourism industry he found there was none, so decided to compile one himself.
The New Zealand Adventure Guide is the result - an adrenalin-charged tour of dozens of outdoor activities all over the country, from hot air ballooning to deep sea diving, from skiing down a volcano to jetboating down our rivers.
"For me it's all about experiencing the great outdoors, enjoying a healthy lifestyle and having fun," says Boocock.
"For people full of life it's about seeking out new activities, overcoming your fears, stepping beyond your comfort zone and being adventurous in one of the most spectacular countries in the world."
In this extract are 10 of Boocock's recommended activities around the Auckland region - start planning an adventurous summer holiday now.
AJ Hackett Bungy
Auckland Harbour Bridge
It's true that AJ Hackett rules the air-waves when it comes to bungy jumps in New Zealand, with four locations. This one is a 40m-high jump from the Auckland Harbour Bridge that includes a walk beneath the traffic to reach the bungy pod. If you are pushed for time, then this is the fastest and most exciting way to see the Waitemata Harbour.
Just 40 minutes from downtown Auckland you'll find yourself at the foot of the largest commercial waterfall abseil in the Waitakere Ranges. Stop off at the black sand surf beach at Piha, walk through majestic sub-tropical rainforest, and spend an exhilarating day abseiling or jumping over a variety of waterfalls that cascade into pristine pools. Trips include a full day, half day and night canyon glow-worm adventure.
This is a quick and easy way to get into the bush on a quad bike. After just 15 minutes training, you'll be zipping along on a one, two or three-hour quad bike safari through the 14,569ha Woodhill Forest and the wild, black sand beaches of Auckland's west coast. All you need to do is sit comfortably and follow your leader, as all tours are guided.
Tandem hang gliding
Auckland's west coast
This is a spectacular way to become airborne as you are catapulted into the sky, high above some breathtaking west coast scenery. You'll both then fly in a nice, relaxing float, or adrenaline-surging aerobatic swoops. Aqua Air Adventure is based in Auckland but flies from where the conditions are best, often on Auckland's west coast from Muriwai to Kariotahi.
South Kaipara, Helensville
This is a family-run one-night, two-day horse trek that begins with an easy Woodhill Forest ride to the lakes. In the afternoon the forest tracks open on to an historic farm. The night is spent in shearers' quarters that sleep up to 12 people in six rooms. The return journey takes you to the tip of the South Head peninsula. Crossing the wilderness flats, you can then ride on sand dunes up to 20m high. The last leg is along 16km of Muriwai Beach before re-entering Woodhill Forest.
Sailing America's Cup yachts
Very few of us will ever take part in an America's Cup yacht race, the world's oldest sporting event, but the next best thing is to go out on one of Sail NZ's yachts. These former America's Cup yachts offer the opportunity for everyone to participate in sailing one of these grand prix racing machines. You'll be part of the crew and encouraged to take the helm and work the grinders as both yachts tack against each other down the Waitemata Harbour.
Auckland and Gulf Islands
Just an hour north of Auckland is Mahurangi Regional Park, a region perfect for the paddler with abundant rivers, sheltered bays, sea caves, estuaries and even a shipwreck. Other popular coastal kayaking venues include, Rangitoto, Motutapu, Motuihe and Rakino. For people wanting some solitude, point your bow out to the eastern end of Waiheke where the islands of Rotoroa and Ponui offer great kayaking adventures. See also: kayakwaiheke.co.nz
Auckland Sky Tower
Look Mum, no hands. Yes, this little escapade might put the wind up you as there are no guard rails, just the air that you breathe 192m up on the 1.2m wide SkyWalk outer ledge. If you want to experience life on the edge then give this a try. It's a 360° walk around the tallest tower in the Southern Hemisphere. If you have the nerve, you can hang your rear-end off the edge with just the harness holding you aloft.
Great Barrier Island
Travelling out to the rugged isolation of Great Barrier Island is an adventure in itself, and the bonus is the beautiful deserted beaches on the eastern side of the island. The four best-known spots are, Medland's Beach with its famous Shark Alley, Kaitoke, which boasts a number of good surf breaks, Awana Beach, noted for its year-round surfing conditions, and lastly Whangapoua with great surf across the mouth of the Whangapoua Estuary.
Whale and dolphin watching
Established in 2000, their record says it all. They claim dolphins are viewed on more than 90 per cent of trips and whales viewed on 75 per cent of trips. Once on board the crew will search the Hauraki Gulf until they locate whale and dolphin activity. This operator specialises in making the most of a day out on the water. This is not a swimming experience, just a chance to view the hugely diverse range of mammals.
* Extract from The New Zealand Adventure Guide by Shane Boocock (New Holland, RRP $45).