The home of bungee jumping, jet boating, sky diving and black-water rafting; New Zealand is seen as the ultimate country for extreme sports. But it’s not the only destination for adventurous travellers. Here are five other places you might not expect, but have plenty to offer adrenalin junkies.
It’s better known for its mix of ultra-modern cities and historic temples, but Japan also has an adventurous side. Three-quarters of the country is covered by mountains so there are plenty of opportunities for mountain biking, climbing and skiing. For climbing, head three hours north of Tokyo to Ogawayama where there are 1,000 climbing routes to suit all levels. Japan also has a huge choice of over 670 ski resorts (compared to the USA with just 490), as well as backcountry ski trips and the chance to ski down a volcano at Niseko.
Costa Rica is one of Central America’s top wildlife destinations. But for a different view of the rainforest, get up into the tree canopy on a zip line – the country’s longest zip line near Manuel Antonio National Park runs for almost a mile. You can also try windsurfing across the lagoon of the Arenal Volcano, where almost constant winds average 50km per hour. With a coastline on each side of the country, Costa Rica is a great place for surfers, with top spots including Salsa Brava on the Caribbean coast, and Playa Pavones on the Pacific coast.
Straddling the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, the Zambezi River has some of the world’s best white water rafting. You can start your journey right underneath Victoria Falls and then head on a range of different routes – right up to the most challenging and terrifying Grade 5 rapids with names like ‘Oblivion’ and ‘Stairway to Heaven’. Along the way you pass some beautiful African landscapes and can even spot wildlife like hippos or elephants along the riverbanks. Or if you want to get a bit more active, you can kayak the river instead.
One of the newest adrenalin sports takes place among the volcanoes of Nicaragua. Volcano boarding involves hurtling down the side of the active volcano Cerro Negro – which erupted as recently as 1999 – on a reinforced plywood toboggan. Boarders are given orange jumpsuits and goggles and have a steep hour-long climb to the top. But on the way down you can clock up speeds of 90km per hour, with just your heels to brake or steer. Other adventures you can try out in Nicaragua include climbing, mountaineering, canyoning and caving.
You don’t have to head somewhere exotic for a dose of adventure. A bit closer to home, the rocky coastline of Wales is the home of coasteering. It’s a mixture of climbing, scrambling, cliff-jumping and swimming along the edge of the shoreline. North Wales is also home to Bounce Below, a unique underground cavern twice the size of St Paul’s Cathedral that’s filled with giant trampoline nets linked by tunnels and slides. You can also try a version of caving in the old mine shafts, with traverses, balancing beams and abseils leading 1,300ft down to the mine floor.