If you enjoy high level excitement then why not step boldly over the edge of a near-vertical rock face?

Abseiling (or rappelling) is a classic outdoor adventure challenge, which anyone can enjoy. You don’t need experience to enter this vertical world, just a desire to overcome a natural fear of heights and give it a go. The feeling of achievement when you reach the base of the cliff is ample reward.

It is basically a controlled free-fall where friction is exerted on the abseil rope through a metal descending device (usually a figure-of-eight or a ladder rack). You have total control of the rate of descent by holding the abseil rope. Strength is not required, just good abseil technique, which qualified instructors can teach you in a couple of hours.

Outdoor Adventure companies offer abseiling in a number of North Island towns including Auckland, National Park, Taupo and Waitomo. South Island centres include Christchurch, Queenstown and Wanaka.

Waitomo boasts the longest abseil in the country – a 20 minute descent into a 100 metre deep abyss, known as The Lost World. Thrill seekers also have the option of abseiling down thundering waterfalls and water chutes in deep Waitomo caverns. The Outdoor Pursuits Centre in Tongariro National Park has a range of training courses, which include abseiling skills. A number of Auckland adventure operators run courses at the Mt Eden Quarry and other locations.

So tighten up your locking carabiner, check the abseil and belay rope anchors, lay back to the horizontal and step lively down the rock wall. Savour the feeling of conquering vertical space – it’s a real buzz.