New Zealand is for Jumpers

“Hi, my name is Andy and I’ll be driving you to whichever structure you’ve chosen to fling yourselves off this morning.”

Thus began my Nevis adventure in Queenstown, New Zealand. Queenstown activities are an amazing array of crazy adventure sports for equally crazy people. Skydiving, canyoning, jet boating…the list goes on forever.

But, if your really wondering what to do in Queenstown, the obvious answer is Bungy Jumping. Bungy Jumping was invented in New Zealand by a guy named AJ Hackett who jumped off a 43 m bridge near Queenstown. Since then it’s spawned a range of crazier and more adrenaline pumping options – including the Nevis Combo: A massive 134 meter bungy jump into a river filled crater followed by a go at the world’s largest swing.

Of course, if you are a total wimp then there are some smaller versions as well, including the original 43 m jump.

But, I didn’t know any of this before I arrived in Queenstown. Shannon always talks about how if either of us ever went to NZ we would have to do the Bungy Jump so I felt oddly obligated to follow through. I had somehow heard of the Nevis jump and blindly signed up to go once I arrived. Then I put it out of my head until the morning of the jump.

That’s when I found out I had managed to sign myself up for the two biggest, baddest, scariest activities in town. I was totally wishing I could have been a wimp. But, it was too late. I was already on the bus on my way to what was probably certain death.

Sadly you can’t bring any friends, loved ones or will executors to see view your impending doom.  Because of the remote location, each spectator must pay $50 to come watch – so I was at it alone. I spent most of the 45 minute bus ride trying to focus on Bill Bryson’s thoughts on the world’s beginnings. Needles to say it didn’t work.

I just kept thinking, “What am I doing? Why did I sign up for this?”

By the time we arrived I was a bit of a nervous wreck. About 20 minutes was spent getting everyone in harnesses and weighing each of us to determine the jump order. Everyone’s weight was written on their hand with the heaviest going first and the lightest last. Lucky me, I somehow ended up going last – which meant I got to watch each and every terrifying jump before it was my turn for the leap.

Unlike a bridge jump where you just walk up to the jump site, you have to take a cable car to the Nevis. Its all a tremendous build up of terror and nerves. Honestly I wasn’t sure I would be able to jump.

I kept asking everyone if it was scary and almost everyone replied with something along the lines of:

“Of course it’s scary- you are jumping into a giant abyss with nothing but a glorified rope attached to your ankles…how could you think it wouldn’t be scary!?”

Then I found out that you can’t just jump off, or fall off. Not you must dive head first into thin air. That way your head doesn’t snap up when the cord catches your feet. And, before you ask – no they won’t push you. You have to get yourself off the ledge all by your lonesome.

Getting strapped in

One particularly encouraging employee looked me in the eyes and said “Well, I’d never do it. It’s too high. Too Scary.”

Gee, D Pane (actual name, kid you not)…thanks for the pep talk.

Before long it was my turn. I got all strapped up to the Bungy and shuffled to the launch pad. I took one look over the edge and thought NOPE! Not going to happen. L’appel du Vide my ass.

Don't let the very forced smile fool you

“I’m sorry, I can’t do this.” I said and turned to leave.

Sadly, my bungy man had other ideas. He basically did the opposite of what people do when they talk someone down from a ledge. He somehow, after several moments of me trying to leave, convinced me to jump into oblivion.

Oh and what a spectacularly ridiculous jump it was. Instead of the graceful swan dive I had imagined  in the moments leading up to the jump, I did more of a tiny hop off the edge. Which means instead of your typical head first bungy, I had more of an awkward strait down fall followed by a jerk when the cord caught my feet.

Then for some reason my body didn’t really understand what was happening. I began to flap my arms around wildly as if I could somehow catch myself or take off in flight – it was a disaster.

Dear god, make me a bird, so I can fly..far far away.

To make matters worse, I then had to release my feet so they could two me back up to the launch area. You are supposed to do this on the second “up bounce” but I became so disoriented I tried to release it before I even finished the first bounce. Of course the mechanism won’t allow this so I just ended up, upside down, feet strung up, gripping the bungy cord with my hands and swinging around like an idiot.

But I didn’t care – I was just so happy that I didn’t have to jump off any large structures any time in the near future.

(If you want to see the jump video in all its glory you can check it out here.)

Then I remembered the swing. I like to think of this as a family blog, so I won’t transcribe my thoughts at the moment but they weren’t pleasant.

As it turns out the swing was a blast. Which is good – after all this should all be fun. I was so excited to be done with my Bungy that I was all smiles as I strapped into the giant swing and prepared for my departure. I even went backwards to up the ante.

The best part of the swing is you don’t have to jump yourself – the whole thing is rigged up to a release button so you just site back and enjoy.  Also, I’m happy to report I managed to keep my composure much better during my swing experience.

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Disclaimer: In exchange for this review, I received a discount on my jump as well as access to photos and videos. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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7 Responses to New Zealand is for Jumpers

  1. Erik says:

    Good for you!

    I didn’t do it- I went there to take photos of the crazy people doing it.

    When I go back, I’m going to do it. (I say that now.)

  2. Good on ya!!

    I was a bit the opposite – in that I did the wimpy bridge, without knowing there was a bigger badder one to be done! Alas, it still remains on my list of things to do…

  3. Great shots hun! And way to go on actually doing the Nevis- I did the Kawarau Bridge when I was in Queenstown in 2009. I love the adrenaline rush you get once you’ve completed the jump. So awesome! :)

  4. Amanda says:

    Good on you!! It’s terrifying, but SO WORTH IT.

  5. Ruth says:

    Whoa Elizabeth. I can’t believe you did that. Badge of courage awarded!

  6. Parent says:

    Liz – Amazing; not for me and so very glad I read all this after the fact!

  7. Rob says:

    When I saw Amanda’s photos and videos of this I said “NOPE!” in a big way. I am in no way afraid of heights, but every time I think about bungee jumping I think of this video http://youtu.be/SRbkAT3-ooo

    Yeah – you’re not in Africa, but ….

    I’m not too proud to acknowledge you girls are more gutsy (or another adjective) than me!

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