Thursday, 28 June 2012

The New Zealand Diaries: No.15 - Jump for your life!

Last week I left my diary entry from New Zealand on a bit of a cliffhanger; did I bungee jump, or did I back out?

Well I couldn’t leave you ‘hanging’ could I, which coincidentally was what I was doing when I decided to bite the bullet and jump for my life off of a bridge in Queenstown earlier this year during my holiday in New Zealand.

When my Dad booked the tickets for my brother and I to fly over to New Zealand, he immediately asked whether we would both do a bungee jump. I was apprehensive, the thought of plunging down form a bridge tied by an elasticated chord terrified me, yet I was intrigued. Not only would it make me extremely proud with myself if I did it, it would also surprise and shock my family, who had always assumed my sporty brother would do it, not me.

So when I boarded the plane for New Zealand, I was determined I would do it. And with three weeks to calm my nerves, I finally agreed to jump off the Kawarau Bridge on the outskirts of Queenstown. Hidden amongst the mountains, the Bridge was situated 47 metres above the clearest, bluest river I had ever seen, which helped calm my nerves a little (well, if the rope snapped, at least the water would cushion my fall!) However, once looking down from the bridge and watching other fearless people jumping off the bridge, my nerves got the better of me and I started taking back all I had said about being “confident” and “reborn” - but too late, it was booked and I was tied up ready to jump.

The actual experience happened all too quickly, with your life in the hands of experienced crew members who tied you up and told you what to do. With my brother jumping before me, I closed my eyes as it finally dawned on me, this is it!

With the adrenaline pumping and my stomach taking turns, I failed to listen to much of what the crew members told me. In fact, rather than just falling (you’re supposed to just fall slowly head first) I got confused and walked off! Yes, it was the wrong thing to do but in a way, it was a bit nicer because I could actually experience falling. And what a weird experience that is! The sudden realisation that you’re walking into thin air before suddenly plummeting is enough to make you sick. I quickly saw the mountains whizz past me in a blur before the rope tightened and I was upside down.

It’s when upside down that you lose control of most senses and just relax as you fall down further and further. Before you jump, you decide whether you want to touch the water, stay above it or go in for the plunge. Never one to miss the opportunity to wash my hair, I decided to take the plunge. The shock of hitting the water wakes you up, before the bungee sends you flying back up and down like a game of conkers. At one point I was certain I was going to hit the side of the mountain!

The whole thing lasts about 30 seconds. Two crew members in a dingy come out to pull you down, at which point I collapsed in the boat lost for words at what I had just done.

Climbing back up the mountain to find my family waiting in excitement at the top, I thought to myself; wow! Just wow! I had accomplished something I never thought I would do, and yet here I am, walking back up the mountain, my head drenched, my senses confused and my head spinning, with a huge smile of satisfaction on my face. It’s certainly been a story to tell my family and friends, and with the pictures as a token of the day’s adventure, it rounded off a fabulous time in Queenstown…one I would never, ever forget.

I would definitely recommend anyone who visits New Zealand or Queenstown in particular to have a go jumping. It really is the most amazing thing I have ever done, and you'll feel so good afterwards (although I don't think I could ever do it again!!)

Next time: My last blog post from New Zealand as I spend one more glorious day in Dunedin. Expect tears, costumes and Chinese Gardens!

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