Rolf Potts travels around
the world with no luggage

Exploring the laws of physics in New Zealand

October 1, 2010 by Rolf Potts

Ever since my no-baggage journey began I had been looking forward to getting to New Zealand — a country I’d never visited before. In particular I was stoked to visit the South Island and see Queenstown, which has a reputation as a world-capital of adventure sports like bungee jumping and jet boating and mountain biking. As it turned out, Queenstown was also stunningly beautiful — a great place to sit and do nothing in particular along the shores of Lake Wakatipu, in the shadow of the snow-capped Southern Alps (which are referred to in this region by a rather amusing name, “The Remarkables”). It’s a setting as scenic as any mountain town I’ve seen in Patagonia or Himachal Pradesh or British Columbia.

My favorite mountain activity since my teenage days has been to hike into the backcountry and disappear for a few days, to loaf and invite my soul and commune a bit with nature. In this situation I didn’t have the time (or the equipment) for a far-flung backpacking journey, so I kept things simple by indulging in a series of alpine thrill sports: jet-boating the icy waters of the Shotover River; exploring the mountains above Queenstown in a Land Rover; swinging through Shotover Canyon head-first at 80 miles an hour; and flying through the snowy forests above Lake Wakatipu on a zip-line.

Since these activities are more rooted physics than narrative, I’ll forgo the analysis and let the video footage speak for itself:

My adventure activities on the South Island of New Zealand were undertaken with the assistance of Destination Queenstown. The Land Rover mountain excursions was booked with Nomad Safaris; the jet boat ride was with Shotover Jet Boat; the zipline tour was with ZipTrek; the extreme free-fall experience was with Shotover Canyon Swing. On a less adrenaline-fueled note, we also took an afternoon wine tour with Appellation Central.

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  • Oceanminded

    You guys keep upping your game! For starters awesome narration and music, from whimsical tones to Joe Satriani, classic!
    Second, it's fun watching you guys let do adrenaline charged activities. Third, on your next journey (you know you will) I think you should try some combination of no-luggage and McIver;) It would be hilarious watching you pull off extraordinary feats with limited means.
    Or perhaps a simulcast with a female circumnavigating the globe in the other direction. You two could meet up somewhere half way and compare journeys. Just throwing stuff out there. Thanks for making my Friday afternoon! TGIF!

    • Oceanminded

      Check that (sp), “MacGyver” (or MacGruber depending on your level of ingenuity:)

  • CamelsAndChocolate

    I spent two weeks in NZ solo last year and while I regret to say I didn't make it to the South Island, I did get a lot of the above activities–jet boating, bungy jumping, free falling and more–in on the North Island. Can't wait to go back and discover the South! It truly is one of my favorite countries in the world.

  • Dragonfly7

    This is definitely my favorite of all the videos, Justin! I think you've convinced my husband to add New Zealand to the list of places we hope to visit someday – as long as Scotland stays at first on the list.

    • Thanks! It's hard not to love New Zealand.

  • Turner

    Left out the best part of Shotover's advertising campaign:

    “As a kid, Chuck Norris had a canyon swing in his backyard.”

  • Dawn

    Awesome video guys! I'm with dragonfly7, it's also my favourite and I think the dinging noise contributed immensely. Used judiciously, a well-placed ding can really spice things up. ;-)

    • Rolf

      Yes, a well-placed ding really DOES spice things up — that's what I kept trying to tell Justin!

  • Justin and Rolf WHAT IS THAT MUSIC thats playing at the part of the video when the SHOTOVER JET BOAT is flying along? I want to download it from iTunes but don't know the name. Thanks!

  • My husband and I spent last June in New Zealand, single carry on bag each, and I have two things to point out. 1) The Remarkables are just a particular set of mountains in the Southern Alps named such because they are amongst 2 (at the time they were thought to be the only ones) sets of mountains that are exactly East West on latitude markings. Most mountains in the world are at least partially North South. 2) How would you change your no baggage for traveling in the winter like New Zealand in June? The items you brought wouldn't be nearly warm enough for most of the time.
    I also would love to know what a woman's version of this no baggage trip would look like.

    • Ilikesprite

      Tanya, I was in NZ in September/October and it was chilly and downright cold in some parts (in snowed in Queenstown). My bf and I also took only one bag each. The key to our warmth was layers — thermals, in particular. I had a 3-in-1 parka and did fine most days. We also bought some merino scarves and gloves while in QT which served us well on the really cold days.

  • Jacob

    Great “physics” take! I love the creativity with the videos and this definitely makes me want to go the New Zealand now. It sounds (and looks) like such a beautiful place.

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  • Gerry

    Amazing camera work!!!

  • Nina Meiers

    Great video – I went to Queenstown a couple of years ago and did that canyon swing – not the on the chair or head first, but maybe next time I will – it was exhilarating… great video – enjoying your journey!!!

  • What fun! I have visited New Zealand once but not Queenstown. Looks like I'll have to go back!

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  • Bogdan

    the final of this video is too good to be true :)