So what better way to celebrate jumping out of a plane than the next day’s activities?
First up. Bungee jumping Off A Bridge…For Fun
I had booked this many moons ago and was looking forward to it until the day before. It was with the original bungy company, AJ Hackett. Mr Hackett was one of the original nutters that thought it would be a good idea to wrap your legs in bungy cords and jump off of high objects. That was in 1989 and things just got crazier ever since! Stef had chosen not to do this activity for some strange reason. I’m not normally nervous but the thought of jumping off a 50m high bridge was starting to get to me. It didn’t help that Stef kept randomly saying “bungy” to me – such a caring wife. Jumping out of a plane was easy. You were connected to a bloke via a harness. If he wanted to jump, you were as well. Bungy however, was another story. You had to jump yourself. Off a bridge. Oh and did I mention it was above a river on the Kawawau Bridge?
We arrived at the bridge and checked in. They weighed me and asked where I was from. When I replied England, the Welsh girl at the counter said “ah that’s great, we’ll definitely dunk you in the water.” She handed me a small piece of paper for my details. It had the words “Toe Tag” written at the top. It wasn’t helping the nerves. I’m glad they think the whole process is funny! They wrote my weight on one hand and a big #1 on the other. With each stroke of the pen my heart beat faster.
I was told to wait by the big screen TVs. This didn’t help much as it told the story of Mr AJ Hackett. He was the one that created the craze of bungy. The bridge where I was about to launch myself off was the first ever commercial bungy jump. It also showed him jumping from a helicopter connected to a bungy and also from the Eiffel Tower. To create a “sport” like this and do things like that, the man must have something wrong in his head yet there were mugs like me throwing money at him to do the same!
Whilst sitting there, heart secretly pounding faster and faster, palms getting clammy, Stef continued to randomly saying Bungy to me. It still wasn’t funny.
My time came and I walked to the bridge. Stef stood at the viewing deck and I kissed her goodbye. It might have been the last time I saw her.
As I got to the jump site, there were about 4 people in front of me. I thought I was going to be first due to the big number one on my wrist but I was wrong. I didn’t want to hear any screams and thought, as I was first, I wouldn’t. But the girls in front of me were not afraid to scream. There was also a TV crew there as they were filming a credit card advert. The actor had a camera strapped to his chest and looked as happy as Larry. One girl screamed so loud, when she came back to the bridge to wave off her friends, the director of the advert said to her that she had the scream of a horror film extra, as it was so loud and painful! One girl however, did not make any sound at all when she fell. I thought that was a bit weird.
The whole time I was waiting, I did not look once at the jumpers. I thought it best not too. My number was called and it was my turn. Jesus. What was I doing? Who pays to jump off bridges? I sat down and they started to strap me up. He asked me how much I wanted to go into the icy water below. As I knew they were filming it, I told him all the way as it would look better. He agreed and he mumbled something to the man standing behind him. Whilst they were getting the previous victim off the bungee, the man told me to “wait there and relax”. Relax? I was just about to throw myself off a 50m drop above icy waters – how could I relax?
They were all ready for me and told me to stand up. He told me to make my way to the edge, which was a lot easier said than done as my legs were tied together. I shuffled forward so that my toes were off the edge. He told me that as soon as I saw the water coming towards me, to put my arms in like I was diving or it will hurt when I splash down. Great. Looking down, it looked so scary – I was 43m above the water. The river didn’t look like it would be kind to anyone. There was a rescue boat floating nearby and there was a little wind – not from my arse as somehow, the view chilled me out. The man called out “jump after three” and began to count. He got to three and without hesitation; I leapt forward – arms out and head down. I quickly realised that I was falling. It wasn’t like the skydiving. This felt worse but in a good way. My adrenaline started pumping and I could feel it through my veins. “Fffffuuuuuuuuuuuuuccccckkkkkkkkk” I shouted. I couldn’t help it. I saw the river hurtling towards me. Here it comes…But it never – I remained dry. I bounced back up a few metres from the water. Then bounced back down. Then back up. Then back down. Then back up. Then back down. Then back up. Then back down. I was connected by elastic – it was bound to happen. My arms were loose like some rag doll being thrown around. But it was all over so quickly. I hung upside down for a while. The rescue boat came out and a man held out a long pole for me to grab on to which I did. They pulled me onto the boat and I lay there thinking “what the hell have I just done?” but at the same time “I want to do it again!” They undid the bungy from me and I walked back to the viewing deck to meet Stef. The return was the worst part. I’d dropped 50m within a few seconds but to get back up the 50m there were about a hundred steps. I got to the top and was so out of breath I could hardly talk!
Stef was on the viewing deck not to just watch me jump, but to film it as well. They had their own cameras but I was not sure what it would be like. Luckily for me, their multi-camera setup was top of the range as Stef had pressed the wrong button and stopped filming the second before I jumped! Their version was great and I had to buy it.
Jumping off a bridge…for fun…DONE!
Next up was a relaxing ride on the Shotover Jet. It was a 10-seater jet boat that hurtled around the canyons. You might have seen the Royals, Kate and Wills, having a go when they came to New Zealand a few weeks ago.
We pulled up, checked in and were told to wait until 4pm when our boat would be ready. Whilst waiting, we were issued a life jacket and a long waterproof mac. They were very trendy. After seeing people come off the boat soaked, maybe they were a good idea. We knew there was a camera at the front of the boat so we made sure that we had front row seats to capture our expressions on the way round.
The “captain” introduced himself and told us the safety instructions. Basically, it was just to hold on to the bars in front of us. As the sun was setting and the water was freezing, it was getting quite cold. The bar in front of us was heated so I was holding onto it more for warmth than safety!
As we pulled away, you could feel both of the v8, 700bhp engines kicking in. Our heads were thrown back. The power was amazing. Before we knew it, we were being thrown about in the canyon in all directions. He would drift the boat so close to the walls that you could lick it. It felt dangerous at times but I’m sure the few months training he had received would be enough. At points he would raise his hand into the air and perform a circular motion. This meant that he was about to 360 the boat and that we had to hold on. The first time round I held on for dear life – after the crazy driving he had been doing, you’d be mad not to. He put the boat into the spin and I came out of my seat. I soon realised that maybe just holding on wasn’t enough. From then on I wedged my feet in as hard as I could! Every turn we made, water would spray up. I say spray; it was more like someone was throwing a bucket of water at you. Both Stef and I were soaked and this water was absolutely FREEZING!
The ride lasted about 30 minutes. When we got to one end of the canyon, we would stop and he would talk to us about the local area. It was interesting, but the cold and adrenaline has made me forget everything he told us! He would then turn the boat around and we’d rocket back to the other end. The drifting never stopped and the boat topped about 70kph.
The ride was over and we pulled up to the dock. If it was during the day and the sun was shining, I would have wanted it to last longer. However, I was frozen solid and relieved to defrost on land. We picked up our video and photos and returned to the van to change into some dry clothes. I suppose that’s a bonus for driving around in your house, all your clothes go with you!
That was our last day in Queenstown. It had been outstanding. I never thought I would have enough balls to bungy jump. And I definitely didn’t think Stef would jump out of a plane at 9000 feet!