You can't go to Queenstown without trying something extreme. Zip lining doesn't count. I'm talking bungy jumping, sky diving, paragliding — something that gets your heart pumping, scares you shitless and makes you feel alive.
From the moment I arrived in this hip little mountain town with Jeff, Ashley and Joe, my mind was made up. I couldn't stay in the extreme sports capital of the world without experiencing something way out of my comfort zone. It was just a matter of picking my poison...
We poured over brochures while chowing down on Fergburgers (a Queenstown must-do! The line moves faster than you think), debating the fear levels of bungy jumping vs bungy swings vs bungy locations, heights and views. Just the thought of it all made me want to regurgitate my burger.
It wasn't until the following morning that I surprised myself at the ticket counter and opted to bungy off of the Kawarau Bridge with AJ Hackett Bungy instead of doing the bungy swing, which I thought sounded less scary (but apparently is way more scary).
Strangely enough, I'm not actually scared of the bungy cord snapping, or breaking my neck or it being dangerous in anyway. I'm afraid of the jump. Since I was I kid, I've had trouble jumping off of things — diving boards, docks, boats, you name it. I really psych myself out even when it's not that high. I didn't want to end up like one of the contestants on MTV's Real World Road Rules Challenge or The Bachelor; There's always some girl who gets all suited up to bungy who then hyperventilates, starts convulsing and loses all control of her motor skills. I REFUSE to be that girl.
We arrive at the Kawarau Bungy center. It's this really massive and architecturally unique building on the side of a gorge. Inside is a massive TV monitor capturing jumpers from all angles. Outside is a large deck where bi-standers can cheer you on.
We line up at the desk, are weighed, have our weights written on our hands and get the whole speech about how if you chicken out, you don't get your money back. I'm forcing myself to smile through it all, trying to stay positive and not really allow my mind to imagine what I'm about to experience. Even if I'd tried, my imagination couldn't have prepared me. AJ Hackett is such a professional operation. It runs like clockwork. The employees know what they're doing, and I feel safe.
We walk out to the bridge and my heart starts thumping. I immediately look over the side of bridge. "Oh, it's not that bad," we all try to reassure each other. Then I see a guy simultaneously jump and scream bloody murder. I get in line. Everyone is nervously smiling at each other. After waiting around for a while and watching other people jump, I start to calm down. There's loud rap music thumping through the speakers, and I'm really trying focus on the beat to get me excited. Then I see this 11-year-old girl. She standing in line a few people ahead of me. Her eyes are red and her face is swollen from crying, and she's sort of bouncing herself up and down and very nervously laughing/crying as her parents cheer her on. I feel you, sister. I feel like I could burst into tears right now too... but I don't. She does. Now everyone's cheering her on and giving her words of encouragement as she steps onto the platform, but in the end she sort of loses it and starts screaming 'let me out' as they start to harness her in. I will not let that be me.
Finally it's my turn. I sit down on the platform while the bungy attendant wraps my legs in bath towels and harnesses, looks at the weight written on my hand and selects the bungy that's right for my size.
I feel relatively calm and have fully accepted that I'm jumping no matter what. I'm bouncing to Kanye West's Gold Digger and smiling through the fear. You can do this. It's no big deal!
With my ankles tied together, I wiggle onto the platform placing the tips of my toes off the very edge. I'm waving at Jeff, Joe and Ashley and smiling a huge terrified smile. Then I look out over the water and my heart is beating out of my chest. "Fuck, I am SO scared," I tell the guy holding onto me.
"The longer you wait the scarier it gets," he says. OK. And I jump.
"Whaaaaat are you doing?!!??," my mind screams. I am so disoriented. I feel like I'm moving in slow motion.
My body naturally is bracing itself to hit something and my arms just want to hold onto something to break the fall. And then I am upside down bobbing up and down and tears are streaming from my eyes and I don't know why.
Some guys in a boat come to collect me and hold out a big PVC pipe for me to grab onto to get me to the boat. There is so much adrenaline running through my veins. I feel excited and exhausted at the same time. That was the most terrifying experience of my life.
Looking back at the photos takes me right back to that moment. Ashley told me people on viewing platform were saying, "Wow! She's REALLY excited!" Nope. When I look back at the photos I can see pure fear in my eyes and I am totally trying to hold back tears. Big smile = I am totally about to crap my pants.
What it so much fun? I would never describe bungy jumping as fun. It's terrifying and exhilarating all at once! I thought it would maybe be that same feeling as when you're falling through a 15-story elevator shaft on the Tower of Terror, but you really can't compare it to anything. It causes your body and brain to experience feelings and emotions it's never felt before. I am so glad I did it.
I did it for me. I challenged myself and got further outside of my comfort zone than ever before. But gosh, I sure hope someone out there actually reads this blog because I also jumped for you!! What kind of travel blogger would I be if I didn't? ;)