Over Easter break I rode in a bus with four friends in a big loop around the South Island. We had a two week “break” (in this school system it’s treated more like a break to do work and study, but hey, we didn’t travel all the way here just to sit in our dorms and do work!), and so we booked this bus tour. My roommates were going to hitchhike and camp throughout the country, which I wasn’t so keen on (even though they ended up having some great adventures as well) so I went to this group of girls in my hall and asked if I could join in, and they readily welcomed me.
All in all, the trip was amazing. I’d like to share every detail, but for now I’ll just share one specific day. The day I jumped off of a 154 ft high ledge and swung on the highest swing in the world.
Doing a bus tour made it really easy to experience a lot of the country in a short amount of time. It did result in a LOT of hours stuck on the bus with some 20 minute bathroom break/take-a-quick-photo-of-the-scenery stops, and the bus ticket didn’t include the prices of any of the activities we all wanted to do, but it was still worth it, and I learned a lot.
The way these kinds of tours work is the driver hands around a clipboard each day with activities that you can sign up to do. The most adventurous and exciting activities were located in Queenstown, which is unofficially “The Adrenaline Capital of the World.” There are 3 different bungy jumps, 2 swings, a luge, mountain biking, skiiing in the winter, a beautiful lake, you name it. The clipboard for the bungy jumps and swings came around the bus a few days before we arrived. A few girls in the group knew exactly which jumps they wanted to do, a few others knew that they were absolutely positively not going to do any jumps, and I was totally on the fence. I love roller coasters and crazy rides, but this is totally different and ten times scarier. But I also knew that I would be so mad at myself if I didn’t do it, I mean this is the country where bungy jumping began!
We got a deal if we did both a bungy and a swing. The options we were considering were the Nevis bungy (the second largest in the world), the Nevis Swing (the highest in the world), the Ledge bungy, where you can run, jump, flip, anything you want off the edge, and the Ledge swing where you release yourself. Natalie, one of my friends, is a gymnast, and wanted to back-flip off the edge of the Ledge bungy. That one is more than half the height of the Nevis bungy, so I thought, why not? I’m sure it will be super easy to just run off the edge! (IT’S NOT).
The Ledge Bungy is situated on a mountain overlooking Queenstown. Natalie went first, and she did a beautiful graceful back-flip off the edge, first try, no fear (that I saw). There was another girl waiting her turn who seemed to be as freaked as I was, and we shared a moment of hysteria. It was my turn, and when he asked how I’d like to jump I said, “Oh, um, I’ll just run and jump.” So he told me where to stand, moved out of the way, and said, “Ok ready? One, two, three………”
He counted down five times. FIVE TIMES. Little did I know that I picked the scariest way to jump off. Running and jumping seems like it would be so easy, but not when you think about the free fall. If I had known I could have picked a different jump, maybe one where I’m backwards and he kicks me off yelling “THIS I SPARTAAAA.” But I made my choice.
On the fifth countdown I said this is it, I’ll do it this time. And I did. Kind of.
Fortunately (and unfortunately) there is video evidence of my most awkward bungy jump/fall/crumple. My legs kind of gave out at the end and I more or less tripped off the ledge, legs outstretched in a weird mid-air leap. I was super tense the whole way down, and I made some weird cry/gargle/scream sounds, but once I was at the bottom bouncing around and I realized that I actually survived, I was so relieved.
I did it!
I knew that my jump was not the most graceful, but I frickin did it!
Afterwards we hopped on a bus to the Nevis Bungy and Swing. They are located in a huge canyon 40 minutes from the city. The swing is 520 ft above the river below and makes a 984 arc. The bungy is 440 ft high. Watching others jumping off the ledge, I really wanted to try it out. My bungy had more jumping options because we were strapped into a torso harness, but since this bungy is so high you are also strapped by the feet, so almost everyone does a beautiful swan dive, even as they scream their heads off. I would definitely go back and do it in a heartbeat.
You can do the Nevis Swing tandem, but I didn’t have anyone to go with. I knew it would be way less scary, because the staff drops you, and your strapped into a seat. But I was still scared, of course. The girl who went before me decided to go backwards by recommendation of the staff, and afterwards she said it was super fun, so I did the same.
They always surprise you when they drop you, which I think is super fun. For the girl before me he counted down 3-2-1, but didn’t drop her, and as she was saying “Oh my goodness don’t do that!” he let her go. For me, they were playing music from one of their phones so I requested that they play one of Kendrick’s new songs, DNA. He played it and dropped me right on one of the drops of the music.
It. Was. Awesome. After the initial free-fall it felt just like a calm, giant swing. I had my GoPro and got to see the beauty of the valley and the mountains around me.
Everyone I talked to said that the more scared you were to do it, the more you would get out of it, and I totally agree. Thinking about it beforehand I was worried I would chicken out, but I got over it, mentally and physically. It tells me that I can do a lot more than I give myself credit for. It’s something I can apply to small things like finishing a project and bigger things like applying for a job.
Thanks, Queenstown, for the confidence boost 🙂