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Doing the other Coast to Coast
Despite sharing a name with the UK's Coast to Coast, a famous meander through the countryside in the north of England,  the Antipodean version traverses the rather more rugged terrain of New Zealand’s South Island. The adventure starts at Kumara Beach on the Tasman Sea and finishing at Sumner Beach on the Pacific and crosses the formidable mountains of the Southern Alps.

The race involves a 140km stint on a bike (which breaks down into three stages of 55km, 15km and 70km), followed by a 36km run (33km of which crosses the Alps) and finally a 67km kayak down the Grade II white water of the Waimakariri Gorge, New Zealand’s answer to the Grand Canyon.

Incredibly, the fastest competitors complete this trial in slightly less than 11 hours. Take heart and stiffen the sinews, though: the oldest competitor to undertake the challenge was 75, while the youngest was just 15.

Base jumping into the Cave of the Swallows
The idea of Base jumping off anything is enough to send most travellers scuttling for the safety of a spot behind the sofa, so what about doing it into the mouth of a cave?

Sótano de las Golondrinas, or the Cave of the Swallows, is a huge limestone sinkhole near Aquismón, San Luis Potosi, Mexico. Its name comes from the many white-collared swifts and green parakeets that live in the holes in its walls. But the spectacle of them exiting and entering every day is not the only reason that the cave draws so many visitors.

The Cave of the Swallows is deep enough to accommodate a skyscraper, meaning about 10 seconds in freefall, and that has caught the imagination of those who enjoy plunging off fixed objects with only a packed parachute strapped to their back.

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© 2012 Lonely Planet. All rights reserved. The article ‘The toughest adventures on the planet’ was published in partnership with Lonely Planet.

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