I woke up feeling sick. This was the day I had been anticipating with equal amounts of dread and excitement. Well, probably more dread…
Today was bungy day.
I was staying in the heart of Queenstown, the birthplace of the bungy jump. AJ Hackett and his crazy crew brought the ancient tradition of bungy jumping to the commercial market in 1988. They now offer a variety of different jumps and canyon swings, from the original site at Kawarau Bridge to the big’un, The Nevis. I had gone for the latter.
Not one to do things by halves, I had paid the non-refundable fee to allow myself to be chucked 132m into a gorge on the other side of the world. Oh, and I am terrified of heights.
The day begins at the AJ Hackett branch in the town. Here, you are weighed (a horrific revelation after a diet of cheesy pasta and Fergburgers), and then bundled into a 4×4. Music blares from the radio, a mix of high tempo heavy dance tracks which attempt to drown out the nausea which is swiftly rising inside of you.
The jump site (which also feels like it may be your final resting place), is located just outside the town up a death-defying dirt track. The ascent up to the site would be horrendous on any other day but I was trying so hard not to be sick that I barely registered the vertical drop-off and uneven graveled road.
When you reach the site you are plugged into harnesses and carted off across the canyon on a carriage suspended hundreds of metres from the canyon floor. If you’re not paralyzed by fear by now then you will be when you reach the central platform. The jump site hangs in the middle of the canyon and worryingly wobbles as you move around it. There is even a glass panel in the floor. But I warn you, DON’T LOOK DOWN.
You throw yourself off the platform in weight order as this allows the rope to stretch properly. Being close to the front of the queue didn’t really improve how I was feeling at the time. Fat and terrified. Great!
Watching others jump is probably one of the hardest things you have to do. They sit in a precariously shaky chair whilst their feet are bound before hobbling to the edge and launching themselves into the unknown.
The guides explain that you have to physically turn yourself upright after the jump, pulling on a cord after a couple of bounces. Most of this information flows straight over my head but I panic that I am going to forget these important instructions.
Now it’s my turn.
I think I’m going to pass out.
All I can muster is a very choice selection of swear words. I’ll save you the details.
The guides aren’t allowed to give you a handy push off the ledge, it is all down to you. Shuffling onto the tiny platform went against every fibre of my being. My body screamed at me, tried to force me to turn back. A bungy jump is the most unnatural thing in the world.
Saying that, it turns out that if someone counts down from three and yells ‘JUMP’, I follow instruction. That’s quite worrying.
What follows is 8.5 seconds of free fall. 8.5 seconds which pass both slowly and in a whirlwind. The best 8.5 seconds you’ll ever have.
And then its all over.
Somehow I had managed to position myself upright and was now serenely drifting over the canyon, soaking up the scenery and buzzing with the adrenalin which rattled my whole body.
This adrenalin rush lasts for the whole day, through every excitable re-telling of the tale of when you took on The Nevis and won. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat.
Location: Queenstown, New Zealand
Price: $260 New Zealand Dollars (£130) which includes all transportation to the site and there’s a free t-shirt chucked in too. $45 (£23) for photos, $45 for video or $80 (£41) for both.
Fear Factor: 5/5
More Info: www.bungy.co.nz