Adventure Activities to Try During Your Gap Year

A gap year is your chance to explore new places and try new things. Wherever you’re travelling, you will have endless opportunities to try some adventurous activities that will see your adrenaline levels shoot through the roof. Whether you’re a complete scaredy cat or an adrenaline junkie, you have to try some of these activities during your gap year:

Sky Diving

Sky Diving on Parachute
Skydiver On Colorful Parachute In Sunny Clear Sky At Sunset Or Sunrise Time.

This is the ultimate challenge that many travellers take up in Australia and New Zealand. If you think your stomach can handle being thrown out of a plane from 14,000ft, it is an opportunity not to be missed.

Now, let me explain something. I don’t like heights, I don’t like roller coasters, and I really don’t like planes. So why I’ve always wanted to skydive I’m not quite sure. It just always seemed like it would be such a thrill, and I like to set myself challenges every so often.

So when the opportunity came to jump out of a plane at 15,000ft in Taupo, NZ, with Skydive Taupo, I seized it with both hands. When I woke up on the morning of the jump, the sun was out, the sky was blue and there were only a few clouds…perfect conditions. I arrived at the dive centre and was soon introduced to my tandem partner, the lovely Scott, who looked after me and kept me calm throughout the whole process.

I got kitted up in my jumpsuit and harness and, after some quick instructions on what to do once we got up there, I found myself climbing aboard maybe the smallest plane I’ve ever seen, and then off we went! After about 10 minutes Scott clipped my harness to his and then I had to watch as the other people in the plane jumped out at 12,000ft and dropped away from view. That was probably the most scary part, seeing others do what I was about to.

Soon enough we were at 15,000ft, and Scott was shuffling me along to the open door of the plane. Before I even had a chance to think about it we were falling, upside down at first, then facing down towards the ground, hurtling at speeds I don’t even want to think about. But it was incredible. With my arms outstretched it felt more like flying than anything, like I was a bird soaring through the air. Yes it was cold and wet. And yes the wind was roaring around my ears, and manipulating my face into all sorts of crazy shapes, but it was the most intense and exhilarating experience I’ve ever had.

After our 65 second free fall Scott pull the cord and we went shooting upwards as the parachute caught the wind above us. Then we slowly came back down to earth, looking out at Lake Taupo below. When we landed Scott asked me if I’d ever do it again. I could only reply, with a big smile on my face, “everyday!”

Skiing/Snowboarding

snowboarding from snowhill
snowboarder is jumping with snowboard from snowhill very high

If you find yourself in a snowy destination then take to the slopes with a pair of skis or a board. After a couple of days of bumps and bruises you’ll be flying down the mountains with the wind in your hair and the sun on your face.

Scuba Diving

Scuba Diving
Snorkeling near a tropical island. Young man swims in the water. Sea vacation

It doesn’t matter how spectacular a pure white beach may be, the underwater world is filled with a million more amazing sights.

Surfing

Surfing

If your idea of fun involves frolicking in the waves all day then surfing is the sport for you. You can take a full day surf school lesson and before you know it you’ll be riding the waves like a pro.

Bungee Jumping

Bungee Jumping

Bungee jumping is not for the faint hearted but if you think you can take the leap of faith then New Zealand is the place to do it. Head to Queenstown for the Nevis Bungee which is 134m high.

What is more romantic than flowers or wining and dining? Throwing your loved one off a bridge that’s what! The first thing we booked aside from flights was a bungee jump to set the trip off to an exciting start. We decided to take a leisurely walk from our hostel to the Harbour Bridge winding our way through the beautiful suburbs of the city. Upon arrival at the bungee site we harnessed up and began our journey across the small pedestrian walkway suspended under the bridge. The company rep asked us ‘are you nervous?’ and quite honestly I replied ‘no, not yet’, these things never hit me until the last minute. We climbed up a narrow staircase to a rickety pod with a glass bottom to find two very chilled out Kiwis waiting for us. One side of the room opened up to reveal the jump space and I have to say, despite the fact that they were both harnessed to a metal rail my stomach flipped when I saw them walking around so casually next to the sheer drop! We had opted to do a tandem jump and so sat to have your ankles shackled together. Now I have neglected to mention the big highlight. As we began our ridiculous shuffling charade to the edge of the gang plank they began blasting out the valentines day play list. We stood looking down at the crystal water as Marvin Gaye’s ‘Sexual Healing’ started playing- what a glorious moment!

Trekking

Salkantay Trek

Trekking is a great way to see a different side to the country you’re visiting. Get up in the mountains for some fresh air and spectacular views.

I couldn’t write about the entire of my Salkantay Trek (alternative route to Machu Picchu) in just 400 words so I’ve decided to write about what was, for me, the most adventurous and challenging day. It rained so much on the second night of our trek that we were unable to camp so had to sleep in a wooden shack. At this point it seemed trekking in rainy season had more advantages than just the lush scenery. Unfortunately, day 3 of our trek proved this theory wrong.

It was immediately clear on day 3 that there had been an awful lot of rain during the night but quite what this might mean for the day ahead was not clear until mid-morning. As we walked along the windy mountain road I pointed out to our tour guide that a rock had just fallen down the hillside from above. It was shortly followed by some more rocks and earth and a small tree. We shrank away, hoping that the entire of the cliff above us was not about to follow suit.

When he’d decided that the land had ceased shifting, our guide began to take us across the newly fallen earth, one by one, watched by locals, on hand to warn us of any more land falling from above. I was the last to be taken across and, as the first of my friends was led to safety, I watched in horror as more earth and rocks fell between them and myself. It stopped again and another friend was led to safety, leaving me alone with my pounding heart on the wrong side of a landslide. I have never been so scared in my life as I too finally scrambled across the fallen rocks towards my friends (as my mother said in a recent email, this is all good character-building stuff) and have never been so relieved as when I was finally reunited with them.

We saw a few more landslides over the course of our trek, though none still in action, and have driven over many since. They are now just a fact of South American life and, from my lowland refuge of Arequipa, it all just seems like a big adventure but crossing my first landslide was an adrenaline filled experience I will never forget and certainly spiced up my long day’s walk!

Have you tired any other adventurous sports during your gap year?

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