Adrenaline Hostels

While Queenstown gets all the glory for being New Zealand’s adrenaline capital, we know a few more hotspots that will suit your mood and adrenaline tolerance. Check out our perfectly located Adrenaline Hostels, from mountain towns to active geothermal regions to pristine alpine resort towns.

Scuba diving & snorkelling   |  Skyjump & Skywalk  |  White water rafting  |  Hot air ballooning  |  Black water rafting  |  Ski/board a volcano
Mountain biking  |  Paragliding  |  Thrillseeker's playground  |  Ice hiking  |  Skydiving  |  Canyoning


Or browse by location:
North Island   |  Bay of Islands  |  Auckland  |  Rotorua  |  Hamilton  |  Waitomo  |  Ohakune/National Park
South Island   |  Marlborough Sounds  |  Nelson  |  Hanmer Springs  |  Franz Josef/Aoraki Mt Cook  |  Wanaka  |  Queenstown

North Island

Keen to base jump off New Zealand’s tallest building? Climb, leap and zipline underground? Tempt fate on an active volcano? Here are our suggestions for adrenaline activities and where to do them.

Photo Credit: Northland

Scuba diving & Snorkelling

Bay of Islands

Chanel your inner Jacques Cousteau and ease into New Zealand’s adrenaline with something adrenaline-light. Kilometres of rugged coastline and sheltered subtropical waters mean Northland proffers an aquatic paradise with hundreds of world-class diving sights for old pros and novice scuba-discoverers.

Oxygen tank a bit much? Opt for bikini/swim trunks and snorkel and swim the surface with up to 45m visibility into pristine marine environments. Discover the Poor Knights Islands Marine and Nature Reserve for underwater cliffs and fish-filled caverns and some of the Bay of Islands’ 144 islands for top-notch shipwreck dives.

Stay with YHA

YHA Whangarei is a perfect base for exploring the Tutukaka Coast and launching your Poor Knights Islands adventure. In the Bay of Islands, you're spoilt for choice with a land based option at YHA Paihia, or a seaworthy stay at YHA Bay of Islands The Rock Adventure Cruise. This overnight boat cruise will even incorporate some snorkelling and night kayaking into your trip.

Book YHA Bay of Islands Paihia    Book YHA Bay of Islands The Rock   Book YHA Whangarei

YHA Bay of Islands the Rock exterior 1 2015


Jump off a building

Skyjump & Skywalk, Auckland

It’s a bird…it’s a plane! No, it’s you and you’re about to base jump by wire off New Zealand’s tallest building. Harness up on the 60th floor of the Sky Tower and then walk the gangplank before the adrenaline-conscious staff count you down: 3… 2… 1…

Keep your eyes wide for the 192 metre, 85kph, 8 second descent to enjoy views of New Zealand’s largest city. Amp up the adrenaline? Before you jump, circumnavigate the Sky Tower’s pergola. No balcony. No railings. And no worries – with a full body harness you can relax and enjoy 360° views.

Stay with YHA

We have two central Auckland hostels to suit your accommodation needs, both just 15 minutes' walk from the Sky Tower. YHA Auckland International has plenty of communal areas for getting your breath back and meeting fellow adventurers. YHA Auckland City has recently been on the receiving end of a $3 million dollar makeover and is 5-Star Gold Qualmark rated, so get in quick.

Book YHA Auckland International   Book YHA Auckland City


Rotorua Rafting

White water rafting


Rotorua is New Zealand’s hub of all things geothermal (hotsprings, geysers, boiling mud pools). It’s also a home New Zealand’s most popular white water rafting run: the Kaituna River. World-class guides say a Māori karakia/prayer of thanks and protection before sending you down a (very forgiving) grade 5 river. Raft through a narrow bush-lined gorge with sheer rock walls, rapids, waterfalls and pools steeped in Māori history. During past tribal wars women and children were hidden in caves behind and around the 7 metre Tutea Falls, today the highest commercially rafted waterfall in the world and the heart-pumping climax of your trip.

Stay with YHA Rotorua

YHA Rotorua is located in the centre of town (and right next to a free geothermal hotspot, thanks very much!) and our friendly reception staff can take care of all your activity booking if you so desire. There are variety of rafting companies around so having locals on hand to give recommendations is a serious benefit. Our staff can also recommend other activities to get your adrenaline pumping; from mountain biking to zorbing to freefall machines!

Book YHA Rotorua

YHA Rotorua interior

Photo Credit: Matamata Camera Club

Hot air ballooning


Head up, up and away at the crack of dawn in a hot air balloon over the Waikato region’s lush lowlands, farmlands, bush-clad extinct volcanoes and New Zealand’s longest river, the Waikato River. On clear days spy two of the North Island’s mighty mountains: Mt Ruapehu (2,797m) and Mt Taranaki (2,518m). The wind is boss and dictates speed, direction and the destination so no two flights are the same. The folks in Hamilton are so hooked on ballooning, they throw an annual festival to celebrate it all, launching 30 balloons into the skies over five-days.

Stay with YHA Raglan

YHA Raglan, Solscape provides the perfect antidote to unwind after having your feet so far off the ground! Stay firmly planted with one of their yoga classes, or make the most of their surfboard and wetsuit hire and get into the local breaks for you next adrenaline fix - they're known as some of New Zealand's best.

Book YHA Raglan


Photo credit: The Legendary Black Water Rafting Company

Black Water Rafting


Sound like white water rafting’s lesser-known evil twin sibling? Not at all. Black water rafting itself is tamer but takes its adrenaline underground. From the sunlight of the Waitomo forest, abseil into a seemingly bottomless abyss and enter the world of labyrinthine caves, tunnels, sinkholes and rivers where stalactites, stalagmites and glow worms are ripe for discovery. Climb, leap and zipline to the Waitomo River where you’ll plant your bum in a rubber tube and float down the black water rapids with only your head torch and galaxies of glow worms to guide you.

Stay with YHA Waitomo

Waitomo has always been a famous location for it's glow worm caves, and YHA Waitomo, Juno Hall provides a great atmosphere to wind down after a day's adventure. Their large swimming pool is a perfect spot to laze about, or if you fancy a bit of a stroll, you can explore the farm grounds at your leisure.

Book YHA Waitomo


Photo Credit: Gareth Eyres

Ski or snowboard an active volcano

Ohakune or National Park

Carving up the freshies down the side of a volcanic cone is an exercise in unadulterated adrenaline. Welcome to Mt Ruapehu, host to not one, but three ski fields! From beginner slopes to snow-filled basins, steep chutes, powder stashes and long runs to backcountry, bumps, bowls and drop-offs, few places in the world give snow enthusiasts their fix on an active volcano. Amp up the adrenaline? Trudge to the crater rim and saddle and put your legs to the test with Australasia's longest vertical descent at 2,000 metres.

Stay with YHA

Ohakune and National Park townships are both excellent bases to explore the Tongariro Crossing, nearby cycle routes, or the Whanganui River. The region's ski fields are no exception! Both hostels can help arrange your transport and ski hire, and have stunning views of Tongariro National Park to enjoy when you put your feet up at the end of the day.

Book YHA Ohakune   Book YHA National Park


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South Island

Get ready for the South Island's adrenaline hotspots that will really get your heart racing.

Photo Credit: Destination Marlborough

Mountain Biking

Marlborough Sounds

For seasoned mountain bikers, the 70km, shared-use Queen Charlotte Track guarantees grunt and uncontestably beautiful coastal scenery with every wheel rotation. Digest adrenaline on skyline ridges, with sweeping downhills, challenging climbs, technical descents and other tricky sections. Begin in Picton with a boat ride to Ship Cove (there’s no road to the start of the track), have your luggage portaged to your accommodation stop each night and finish 70 hard-earned-kilometres later in Anakiwa. If two - three days’ peddling doesn’t appeal, day rides for the less seasoned, but no less enthusiastic, offer flat sections and well-graded inclines.
Want other places to hit the trails? Read more


Stay with YHA Picton

Our staff at YHA Picton, The Villa are poised and ready to help organise your transfers and accommodation on the Queen Charlotte Track, but they also make a great home base to return to after your ride. Hot apple crumble with ice cream and free breakfast are some special favourites among returning guests from May - October, and the spa pool and courtyard fire will be a welcome sight for your aching muscles too.

 Book YHA Picton 

YHA Picton exterior

Nelson Hang Gliding

Paragliding & Hang Gliding


Join the seabirds in sunny Nelson (averaging over 2,400 sunshine hours per year) and tap into humanity’s universal fascination with flight. Go tandem paragliding and hang gliding with updraughts, ridges and thermals aplenty. A mix of adrenaline and serenity, paragliding and hang gliding suit the faint-of-hearts and the not-so-faint-of-hearts as both can be adrenaline fuelled or light. Here, you won’t be asked to run off a cliff, start up an engine or carry a heavy frame. Simply strap in to your trusty pilot and enjoy the bird’s-eye-views over mountains, gold sand coastlines and three National Parks. 

Stay with YHA

We've got you covered with a 5 star Qualmark-rated hostel right in the center of Nelson. YHA Nelson by Accents can help you book your paragliding or sky diving experience, or simply point you in the direction of the nearest beach or winery if you've had enough excitement for one day. YHA Golden Bay, Annie's Nirvana Lodge is located a little bit closer to the famous Abel Tasman National Park which makes for some excellent kayaking adventures if you prefer water based activities nearby.

Book YHA Nelson   Book YHA Golden Bay


Photo Credit: Thrillseeker's Adventure

Thrillseeker's Playground

Hanmer Springs

Get past the soporific façade of this alpine village and it all gets a wee bit adrenaline mad. Best known for its thermal pools rich in salts and minerals, Hanmer’s wild side is a thrillseeker’s playground with so much going on. You want jetboating? White water rafting? Bungy jumping? Quad biking? Paintball and claybird shooting? Hanmer’s got it. And then some. And it’s all backdropped by sculpted mountains and river valleys, towering forests and braided rivers. So get ready to get your heart racing for a fast-paced, non-stop thrills kind of day. The only downside? You might not be able to wipe that grin off your face. And if it all gets to be a bit too much, you can still soak in those thermal pools.

Stay with YHA Hanmer Springs

Amidst this hub of activity is YHA Hanmer Springs, Kakapo Lodge, complete with log fire, movie hire, and a view of the Southern Alps for when you retire at the end of the day. The hostel is conveniently located next to the Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools complex, in close proximity to the town's restaurants and pubs.

 Book YHA Hanmer Springs


Hike a Glacier

Franz Josef & Aoraki Mount Cook

New Zealand is home to over 3,000 glaciers so lace up your boots, strap on some crampons and lasso in a skilled guide, we’re going ice hiking! The West Coast is known for rainforest, wild coastal weather and two tunnel and cave-laden glaciers. Fox (13km long) and Franz Josef (12km) Glaciers are relics of the last ice age and are unique in the world for their descent into and rise above rainforest and their extent almost to the sea. Aoraki Mount Cook National Park is 35km inland from Franz Josef as the crow flies and a 5 ½ hour drive around the Southern Alps where ice junkies can scope out the big daddy of New Zealand glaciers, the Tasman Glacier (27km). Fly past the east face of Aoraki Mount Cook to discover ice caves and spectacular glacier formations.

Stay with YHA

If you're after a cosy log cabin feel with your accommodation nestled in between some of the country's tallest mountains, YHA Aoraki Mount Cook is for you. This small hostel is a hot destination in winter, so book well in advance to be sure of a bed. Out on the West Coast, YHA Franz Josef is a surprisingly large hostel with a buzzing common room featuring a roaring fire - a great spot to warm your toes back up after a day's glacier exploits.

Book YHA Aoraki Mt Cook      Book YHA Franz Josef

YHA Mt Cook interior

Photo Credit: Skydive Wanaka



Step 1) Strap yourself to a beautiful stranger. Step 2) Throw yourself from a perfectly good aeroplane. Step 3) Freefall fast and furious at 200kph from a whopping 12,000 or 15,000 feet before pulling the chute to enjoy unrivalled views of Wanaka’s lush valleys and mountains, lakes cradled by hills and cliffs, pristine rivers, tumbling glaciers and two of New Zealand’s titanic mountains: Aoraki Mount Cook (3,724m) and Mt Aspiring (3,033m). This activity-filled, four-season alpine town and region has a bit of it all, and it’s best seen while airborne. (Skydiving—been there, done that? Try jumping from a helicopter for a 12,000 foot heli-skydive.) After you’ve jumped from the bluebird sky, grab a pint at one of the nearby historic pubs. 

Stay with YHA Wanaka

Lake views and a sunny balcony at YHA Wanaka make it a great spot to catch your breath after your tumble! Our staff can help organise your skydive as well as other activities in the region. The hostel is also a short drive from some of the region's best ski fields, some of which offer mountain biking tracks in the summer season.

Book YHA Wanaka


Photo credit: CanyoningNZ



Queenstown is undoubtedly New Zealand’s adrenaline capital with bungys galore, skydiving, canyon swinging, jetboating and more. Include canyoning on that adrenaline-worthy list! Jump, slide, abseil, zip, float, plunge, scramble, leap and swim through canyons, narrow gorges with rock slide chutes, waterfalls and clear deep pools tucked beneath canopies of ancient rainforest for a most excellent downstream multisport adventure. The region’s glacial history and unique mountainous terrain lends itself to deeply eroded valleys, carved high-walled canyons and towering walls where rain, melting snow and ice create fast-flowing water and pounding cascades. Novice and advanced canyoneers take note! Pick a canyon to conquer from a National Park, picturesque valleys or a mountain peak. You can even opt in for heli canyoning.

Stay with YHA

We have not one but two Queenstown hostels where you can hang your hat after a hard day's climbing. YHA Queenstown Central has a prime location smack bang in the middle of town, which makes it easy to venture out in search of dining or drinks. YHA Queenstown Lakefront is a 10 minute walk alongside the lake from the main hub, which makes it the more relaxed option of the two and ensures a quieter nights' rest. It's also been newly refurbished - sweet!

Book YHA Queenstown Central  YHA Queenstown Lakefront

YHA Queenstown Central exterior

Want Adrenaline? We know where to find it. Need a bed? We’ve got your accommodation sorted.
Our Customer Services team can assist in making bookings at multiple hostels: Email us

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