Top Ten New Zealand Off-the-Beaten-Path Adventures

Port Hills Paragliding

The Port Hills are the rugged mountains separating the port of Lyttelton from the city of Christchurch. The South Island's first English settlers climbed the Port Hills on their way to the good life 150 years ago...images of families dragging their worldly goods up these harsh hills are an odd contrast to the playground that this area has become. New Zealanders love the Port Hills for rock climbing, mountain biking, and walking—but also for paragliding.

Winds are reliable, and all good launching spots can be reached by car. On a clear day you'll be overwhelmed by views of the Southern Alps, falling like a curtain behind Christchurch. Flying toward the sea, you can look down at Lyttelton Harbour, into the crater of an extinct volcano. You'll have great views of the golden beaches and quiet bays that freckle the inlet, the famous Timeball station, and, if you're lucky, local historic boats cruising among dolphins.

If you don't have your own equipment, several operators offer tandem jumps, instruction, and multiday courses.


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