Ten Action-Packed Days in the South Island
The title of this itinerary assumes you're a fun-loving, adventure-seeking, fear-proof adrenalin addict with tons of stamina. If that's the case, you might want to head straight for Queenstown and stay there. It has more crazy, pulse-quickening activities per square inch than anywhere else, and most are easily accessed without a vehicle. There's also an active hotel pickup plan at work. Make sure you check out the many money-saving combo deals available. I haven't listed late-night fun here because that's a whole other story.
Day 1: Arrive in Queenstown
Spend the day regaining preflight energy with a leisurely amble around the town's adventure suppliers. Get social at Joe's Garage, the preferred hangout of local adventure types, and soak up the energetic hum of hundreds of fellow international adventure seekers. Do some research at the i-SITE Visitor Centre and have a few drinks at Tatler, where local bar staff will fill you in on all the best nightspots.
Day 2: Up & About
Start with a gobsmackingly daring burst of speed through high rock canyons on the Shotover Jet. Pick up your stomach and head back into town and take the gondola to the top of Bob's Peak. Pick up speed with a few luge rides, scare yourself with a bungy overlooking the town, and float back down to Queenstown park via a tandem parapente.
Day 3: The Ultimate Jump
Be the ultimate daredevil and tackle the full bungy package - yes, that means all four of them! Start with 43m (140 ft.) at the "original" Kawarau Suspension Bridge and work your way up (and down) from there. If you've already done the Ledge at the top of Bob's Peak, do the Ledge Swing instead - or try the bungy here again at night. Forget being squeamish, and take your camera because all four bungys are located in stunning landscapes. Make sure you get the T-shirt that attests to your courage!
Day 4: The Dart River
Imagine rivers wild and calm overhung with lush green ferns, the sound of native birdcall, and nothing else - except the excited squeals of your fellow adventurers. The Dart River deserves all the superlatives. Start with a 5-hour jet boat and a walk through unspoiled native bush with Dart River Safaris. If you're short on daredevil confidence after all the bungy jumps, float the river with Funyaks. A day to remember!
Day 5: Taking to the Air
Push your budget to the limits with a helicopter ride into the mountains and have the highest altitude picnic you're ever likely to enjoy. Choppy Paterson of Over The Top knows how to impress with remote mountaintop lake settings. Calm down after that adventure by taking a leisurely afternoon cruise on the Earnslaw.
Day 6: Watersports
Fast-paced watersports are on today's agenda. Start with Canyoning NZ, and find yourself slipping down river canyons in a wet suit and a helmet. Serious Fun River Surfing brings a new twist to an old sport - it's all washing-machine rapids and rapid slithering down rocky river gorges. In the afternoon, go white-water rafting. There are several operators to choose from and river grades to suit your nerves, physical prowess, and stamina. The Shotover River is generally viewed as more challenging than the Kawarau.
Day 7: Milford Sound
Your toughest choice will be "fixed wing" or helicopter. Whichever you choose, be prepared to be impressed by jagged mountain peaks, lush green bush, unbelievably blue lakes, golden tussock, and azure blue skies. If a Milford boat cruise is not energetic enough for you, team up with Rosco's Milford Sound Sea Kayaks for a surreal paddling adventure. Take your camera and stay overnight at Milford Sound Lodge.
Day 8: Milford Track
Join a 1-day guided walk on Milford Track with Trips 'n' Tramps - just 12 people getting a taste of this world-famous mountain route. Enjoy total silence, majestic mountain landscapes, remote passes, a wilderness tea break, photography stops, waterfalls, and rainforest glades. This may be the quietest of your adventures, but it may be the pièce de résistance.
Day 9: Back to Queenstown
Before you fly out of Milford, visit the Underwater Observatory for a unique glimpse of rare underwater life forms. Return to Queenstown by helicopter or plane (the 5- to 6-hr. bus trip is dead time) and spend the afternoon doing a mountain bike tour with Gravity Action, which will give you an up-close and personal look at the landscapes you've just flown over.
Day 10: Back to Christchurch
Rise before dawn and join Sunrise Balloons for a last magical overview of this splendid place where mountains and lakes rise out of the early morning mists. It's the perfect memory to take away before you fly home.