Contrary to popular belief, Singapore offers more than just skyscrapers and street food. In the last few years, the Asian city-state has transformed itself into a premiere destination for adventure and nature lovers. Singapore doesn’t just have gardens; it is a city within a garden. Plus, its tropical climate makes it the perfect place to indulge in outdoor pursuits year round.
What does this mean for adventure travelers? The unique opportunity to indulge in world-class adventures from the comfort of one of the world’s most well ordered cities. Care to go under the sea? Reef diving is available just 30 minutes off the coast. Looking to be airborne? Try zip-lining on Sentosa Island.
For Singaporeans, active pursuits aren’t just a luxury; …
I just spent a month in New Zealand and I don’t ski, snowboard, climb mountains, or bungee jump. I don’t like “extreme” anything and I’m not sure why anyone would participate in something called “zorbing.” In the midst of winter in the Southern Hemisphere, it’s too cold for beaches or swimming but too wet most days for a pleasant hike. Instead, I explored museums and galleries, sipped multi-layered wines and single-origin coffee, and discovered fashion designers and weekend markets as exciting and innovative as New York. There’s no doubt New Zealand has some of the most peaceful yet jaw-dropping nature on the globe, but is there a New Zealand for travelers who aren’t interested in adventure, extreme sports, or rural pursuits? The country may not be known for its cities, but there’s more to Kiwi culture than “Lord of the Rings” tours and “Flight of the Conchords” songs.
Stay tuned for features on finding “Kiwi cool” here, such as why Auckland is worth more than a stopover, how Wellington may be more hipster than Portland, and who is helping Christchurch get its groove back. The South Pacific nation has plenty to offer the urban explorer year round, even if you want to travel without a car (as I did), a tour guide, or special gear. You may go to New Zealand for the great outdoors, but find lots to enjoy indoors as well.
Photo from the awesome Free House pub in Nelson on the South Island.
We’ve written about Zorbing a few times at Gadling, the crazy extreme sport where you jump inside of an enomous plastic ball and bounce around as it rolls down a hill. Think of yourself as the rodent inside of a giant, cushioned hamster ball. It’s hard to resist.
Various iterations of the sport have been around for a few years now, including an official franchise in Tennessee and a whole host of copycats, but the technology was born in Rotorua, New Zealand, a small, adventure-centric town three hours south of Auckland.
Here, you can get your Zorb in a few different flavors: alone, with water, with a friend, down a zig zag path, or combinations therein. Since I was with another guy and wanted the “ultimate experience,” I chose to take the zig zag path with water.
So what’s it like?
Well, at the bottom of the hill you first change into swim trunks, then they shuttle you to the top and you jump in line. Once it’s your turn, they ask if you want water (highly recommended) then they toss a bucket full of warm water into the waiting Zorb. Draping a slippery rug into the entry, the attendant asks you to dive in, then they zip closed the inner sphere. On three, you kick back towards the bottom of the hill, and off you go.
The whole thing lasts about 45 seconds, but it’s the most disorienting, wonderful, happy experience of your life. The Zorb spins below you as you try to maintain some sense of location and focus, then as it changes directions you bounce back and forth inside of the inner sphere. It’s fun in a wholly wild, new way.
Worth the $35 to ride? Sure, at least once. Check out a video of the experience after the jump.
So New Zealand is well-known as the spiritual home of bungy jumping, but travellers to the globe’s most adventure packed country soon find out there are loads of other exciting ways to get the most value out of their travel insurance policy.
The world’s most extreme flying fox. Tucked away in the middle of the North Island, the ride at Mokai Gravity Canyon (watch a video after the jump) launches at a height of 175 metres and gets up to speeds of 160 kph. Afterward there’s the North Island’s highest bungy jump (of course…)
An underground flying fox. Only Kiwis would think of setting up a flying fox in a limestone cave. To reach the St Benedict’s Caverns at Waitomo you’ll first need to abseil. Having fun yet?
We’ve showcased Zorbing (here)before but it’s crazy enough to deserve another mention. Strap yourself into a giant see-through ball and roll down the hill. Why didn’t someone think of it sooner?
Ever wondered what would happen if you fell into a giant vacuum cleaner that was switched to “blow”? OK, it’s not a common fantasy but you can find out at Freefall Extreme. Recreate the feeling of skydiving but stay close to the ground.
Most travelers experience bungy jumping at the South Island adventure hub Queenstown but you can also leap off the Auckland Harbour Bridge in New Zealand’s biggest city. It may look like I’m jumping naked in the photo above, but I was wearing a weird coloured jumpsuit OK?