I recently fulfilled a lifetime’s dream to go to New Zealand on holiday. Having seen numerous TV programmes about the adventure tourism in general, but in relation to New Zealand in particular, I was well aware that this was the place to go to do a bungy jump. I had done one years before, in a car park in Aberdeen, which was really rather tame by comparison. I wanted to up the anté!
The bungy jump was pioneered by two New Zealanders, AJ Hackett,
and Henry van Asch who, in 1987, on a mission to test the resilience of their ropes, climbed to the top of the Eiffel Tower at night, and the following morning jumped off the top. They were arrested and released five minutes later, but the phenomenon of bungy jumping was born. And so it was that the first bungy jump centre was opened at the Kawarau Bridge, over the Kawarau Gorge, near Queenstown.
This is the spiritual home of the bungy jump, and rightly so. The water of the
Kawarau is fast flowing and dark turquoise blue in colour, the valley covered
in emerald green evergreens, and on the day I went, the temperature was about 30 degrees centigrade.
The bridge is 43 metres above the river and you have 3 options; to either get your head wet, go right down close to the water, or stay a metre or two clear. I chose the second option, as I have heard of numerous jumpers who have had problems with their retinas following a ‘dunking.’ The jump itself is a leap of faith. You don’t have time to think. You just have to jump. The man in front of me in the queue lost his nerve at the last minute, and I was determined that I was not going to do the same, so when I came to the platform and got the ‘good to go’, I simply focussed on a point in the distance, and launched myself off. Whatever you do, DO NOT LOOK DOWN!!!
It was a massive adrenalin kick when I jumped off. You just have to hope that this rope will kick in, because you are in big trouble if it doesn’t! Your stomach starts churning, and there’s a rush of blood to the head. And I must say, it was a bit of a relief with the rope did kick in. Three seconds is a long time in complete freefall! Once you’ve completed your jump, a dingy comes to unharness you, and then you can go back up to the centre. Once you reach that point the exhilaration is beyond what words can describe, and the reason why it is worth every cent of the NZ$220 to do it!
It was a massively successful day out. The centre itself is more than just about the bungy jump. There is the opportunity to take zipwire rides, or simply sip drinks on the viewing platform, and watch other fruitcakes do their thing! Once you’ve earned the bragging rights however, there is the opportunity to purchase proof of your foolhardiness. You can buy a combination of video, photographic evidence, or both. You also get the T-Shirt. Literally!