Thomas Bywater explores old and new tourist attractions in Wales.
Catching the edge of my quarry kart on the coloured Welsh slate, I first skidded then rolled. I wasn't making mountain tricycling - Wales' newest family-friendly adventure attraction - look particularly easy.
The odd-looking tricycles are supposed to lower your centre of gravity and sense of fear while hurtling down a track. Since August the quarry in North Wales and New Zealand's Cardrona have been the only places outside their base in the Alps where visitors can take them out for a spin.
Emerging from the crash undignified but unharmed, I dusted myself off before continuing down the slate mine into Bethesda below.
The surreal greens and purples of the flaking quarry stones make it feel like you are on another planet. Some of the quarries have been used as sets for Doctor Who and other sci-fi and fantasy films. And even the language sounds unlike anything else you have ever heard.
"Arafwch Nawr" read the road sign into the corner with which I collided, beneath it the English translation "Slow down!"
Yet, for all the fantastical otherness and alien first impressions there are a remarkable number of similarities between Wales and New Zealand. These similarities have more than once led to competition, both on the rugby pitch and in the pages of the Guinness Book of World Records.
While I was racing down the quarry side, a short way away in Harlech another New Zealander was facing his own vertiginous vendetta with a measure of Welsh road.
When I met him on the winding track, Toby Stoff was on a quest to redeem the honour of Dunedin's Baldwin St.
Underneath the imposing ruins of Harlech Castle, he cut a figure like Don Quixote of the Antipodes.
NZ surveyor travels to Wales to dispute 'steepest street'
When Guinness World Records announced that Fford Penn Lech would take the record for "World's Steepest Street" in July this year it sparked a quest by the Dunedin surveyor to measure that street himself.
"They're the authority on world records but they're not the authority on streets," he said, throwing down the gauntlet to the records body.
Stoff had travelled 19000km, theodolite in hand, to re-measure what is now claimed to be the record-holding street. He has made it a personal mission to prove Fford Penn Lech is, in fact, only second steepest and return the title to Baldwin St.
"I hope everyone got a chuckle out of this," said Stoff. "We just had to get over here ourselves and set foot on it."
So two very different streets, on opposite sides of the globe are linked by a disputed record. And the closer you look the more similarities appear between the two countries half a world apart.
Over the past six years, the valleys have been reinvented as an adventure sports hub. Zip World and its gravity-dependent attractions have been the driving force behind this. After opening a first zipline in 2013 over the Penrhyn Quarry with six employees, it has grown to a multimillion-pound tourist attraction. There's hardly a valley or disused mine that doesn't have a Zip World attraction over, through or under it – including the Llechwedd Slate Caverns or Fforest Caffi high lines.
The newest adrenalin sport launched by the company is Quarry Karting, with a 3km course open to anyone over 15. We were packed into a bright red lorry and driven to the top of the quarry; the view back down was exhilarating in itself.
Mylon our instructor and current course record holder – 3 minutes 24 seconds – gave plenty of tips. As if anticipating my wipeout, he warned us not to get "too cocky" and that about 96 of all crashes happen on the second run. However most walk people away from the experience still smiling. Queenstown, watch out.
The karting experience costs $79 per head
The village of Portmeirion is a surreal pastel-coloured wonderland, created in the 1920s by Clough Williams-Ellis who collected styles and influences from as far afield as Italy and North Africa. Weird optical illusions and donated monuments give the town on the estuary a theatrical quality. It is perhaps best known as the backdrop for psychedelic 60s TV series The Prisoner and a music festival in what has to be the most trippy setting ever. Hobbiton doesn't even come close to this model village.
Adult day tickets $16.
Snowdon and Snowdonia national park
At 1085m, Mt Snowdon is the highest point in Wales (and England too). With six routes to the top and best vantage point in Wales, climbing Snowdon is a choose-your-own-adventure of a walk. From a leisurely seven-hour stroll to a challenging mountaineering route, the mountain is yours to claim. Perhaps the most appealing route is on the historic Snowdon Mountain Railway which puts the summit within 60 minutes ride.
Summit return by rail from $61. The train closes for winter, between December and March.
Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways
The oldest independent railway in the world, built in 1832, the dramatic Ffestiniog steam train leaves a trail of smoke through some of Wales' most dramatic scenery. With twists and turns, and even a complete spiral it seems even the people building the railway were enjoying themselves.
The loop takes a very manageable two and a half hours. The miniature railway might seem twee compared to Kiwi Rail's Interisland track, but the toy trainset is no less appealing for it.
An all-day rover ticket can be bought for $52, giving access to the network