At The Place That Started It All!
While visiting New Zealand with Alex this December (New Zealand’s summertime), we had a lot of big adventures planned. Canyoning the remote parts of Wanaka, hiking the mountains of Arthur’s Pass, and stuffing our faces with New Zealand cuisine, to name a few. The most daunting on the list was bungy jumping at the place that started it all: Kawarau Bridge in Queenstown, New Zealand.
I am by no means an adrenaline chicken. I enjoy my fair share of heights, speed, and healthy amounts of risk. However, I will admit that I was nervous for bungy jumping! I have been sky diving before, but something about just dropping down to the ground relying on only a rubber band was frightening to me. Go figure.
AJ Hackett invented the modern bungy jump, launching the first commercial site at the Kawarau Bridge. I was thrilled to be trying it where it all started, at least.
When we arrived at the jump center we were weighed twice and marked with our weight so that they could properly calculate the bungy cord tension. While waiting out by the bridge, we were able to watch others jump. This only made me more nervous! But also more excited. There was even a station where people could buy a bit of alcohol for a “shot of liquid courage”.
Preparing to Jump
The bridge itself (seen on the right) was where they stationed you until they were ready to tie you in. You would sit in the little waiting area on the side, getting more and more nervous as they launched the person before you!
Alex and I decided to do a tandem jump. This way, I could dig my nails into his side as I screamed bloody murder. At least, that’s what he thought. There was a viewing platform to the side of the bridge where people who weren’t jumping could watch what was going on.
A nice man with a heavy Kiwi accent lined our boots up together and wrapped our shins with a towel before strapping some serious hardware to our legs. We also wore harnesses, similar to a rock climbing harness, that they also attached some lines to. When it was finally time to stand up and wiggle to the edge of the platform, I felt a surge of adrenaline so strong it almost made me nauseous.
It’s hard to describe what it feels like to be standing on the edge of the platform, staring down into the glacial blue river over a hundred feet below, with nothing between you but a thin wooden board. There wasn’t even anything to grab onto at our sides. We were out in the air, and the weight of the bungy cords was threatening to pull us over the edge.
At this point I definitely get how people decide to turn back. You are fighting a seriously strong instinct that is screaming at you to not jump, you idiot.
Luckily for me, was about as stubborn as I was scared. I was determined not to back down with Alex at my side. When our caretaker counted down “three, two, one…” I could feel Alex leaning forward. I could either join him, or pull away and royally mess up our jump. I decided to lean in too, and just like that we were hanging in the air.
The blue water below was all I could see as the adrenaline almost paralyzed me with fear. The wind rushed in my ears and my stomach jumped up in my chest. It felt like I was flying.
The water came upon us suddenly, and we were dunked into the cool river! This was an optional choice for the bungy, but we decided to go for it. If you’re gonna do something crazy, might as well go full crazy, right?
The bungy cord ripped us back up, and we experienced a few seconds of total weightlessness. It was here that I began laughing. We had survived! The bungy cord worked! The absolute relief coupled with the high of adrenaline made me giddy with laughter.
The yellow boat pulled into the river and reached for us with a long metal pole. We grabbed it, and they used it to pull us down into the boat, where they unstrapped our legs. My face was flushed from being upside down, and I felt the color drain back out of it. I stared up at the bridge that we had just jumped down from. What a rush!
We climbed the stairs up to the center and watched a few more people jump off. We were so thrilled with the experience that we almost decided to go again, but then decided to save the money for other adventures.
Was it worth it?
I’m sure you can tell by my enthusiasm in this post that the answer is an unequivocal YES! Bungy jumping is scary, and it’s easy to back down from the challenge, but once you know how cool it is you will be so glad you tried it. Bungy jumping at the place where it all started made it that much cooler. If you’re in New Zealand, I highly recommend checking out AJ Hackett Bungy; in my opinion they did a great job. They even offer a taller bungy that I was too chicken to try.
Also, if you really want to see us be embarrassing (Alex’s scream in this video is so hilarious) watch the whole thing below!