South Island: Wanaka and Arrival in Queenstown (aka BUNGEE!!)
We arrived in Queenstown just in time for me, Jessie, TJ, Greg, and Dave (Katherine and Amanda were doing their own thing) to run to the AJ Hackett Bungee ‘headquarters’ and check in. There all kinds of deals you can do for more than one bungee jump. I originally was going to do the Thrillogy while I was in Queenstown, but with the other things I wanted to do it made more sense for me just to do two. The Nevis and Bridge jumps. Or so I thought. Jessie signed up for the Nevis Bungee, the Ledge Bungee, and also a thing called the Nevis Swing (the world’s largest swing!).… But more on that later. So after we did our bungee jumps she was going to do her swing and then the other bungees on a different day. Once we got weighed about 4 times each and then had that weight recorded on the backs of our hands… fun…. we had some time to get nervous before a shuttle would take us to the Nevis. There were computers available to se while we waited so I quickly popped on sent a couple of emails to let my parents know I was alive (but may not be for long) and made some sort of frantic Facebook status about jumping off a bridge.
I don’t really think I could take in the extent of the whole situation, but I do know that in that moment I was not afraid. I had no idea what I was about to experience. I also don’t think my mind has ever been as blank as it was in that moment. After some quick instructions on form I was ready to go. – A side note here: As my mother has noted on many occasions (too many, really) I can have quite the potty-mouth. This is something I am quite aware of and working on. Now, even when I am in casual situations I tend to let the odd curse slip. Put me in a situation where my emotions are running hot—look out! So, fully aware that my bungee jump would be recorded for posterity, I planned exactly and specifically what I was going to yell on my way down. Just in case something else decided to slip out. This way I would avoid any expletives being screamed across my living room when I showed the evidence to my family and friends back home. If seen a few friend’s videos and a couple of movies with bungee jumps in them and it seems pretty common to simply yell BUNGEE after you’ve been counted down. So I stuck with that. You’ll have to watch the movie to see how well that goes for me. Note over.—I opened my arms out wide and took a big breath.
After our t-shirts and videos were collected we piled back into the van and headed to town. It was nice having a moment to catch my breath and re-live the craziness that had just happened. The other van had stopped and stayed in Wanaka for Skydiving. So we all met up and the famous Ferg Burger for some of the most delicious burgers I’ve ever experienced and swapped stories. We went back to the vans to get cleaned up before the next Queenstown-must; a bar crawl! You may recall I was feeling pretty sick that morning so by this point it was catching up with me again, hard. The thought of going out wasn’t very appealing but I really wanted to go to the Ice Bar. The Ice Bar is exactly what it sounds like, a bar made entirely of ice. They give you gloves and coats to go in, even Uggs to the girls wearing high heels so their feet won’t get cold. And for all of this you have to pay $30 just to get it plus the cost of drinks ($7-$8 each). This seemed a little outrageous for us college kids so we found this bar crawl, $25 for 6 bars and a free drink at each one, including the Ice Bar. Totally worth it right? Nope. It was probably my least favorite part of the trip. Everyone else who was on the crawl was already smashed (clearly they knew something we did not). And the free drinks were a pre-made mixed drink in a plastic shot glass that was the same at each bar. All this added to the fact that I was quickly deteriorating from the inside out meant that I didn’t last long. I stayed to see the ice bar, and of course bought a drink (no, there was no free drink here) so that I could cross it off my list and then decided to head home. I wasn’t alone either, 5 or 6 of us had had enough and just wanted to go to bed. I think the excitement of the whole trip to the South Island was finally starting to take its toll. Luckily the next day was all planned out and the only thing I had to do was show up. Thank God for Milford Sound.
But as I lay in bed, I had to smile as I looked back at that long 134 meter fall that I could still feel in my chest when I closed my eyes. It was an excellent day.
Fun Fact: Bungee Jumping originated on New Zealand, developed by AJ Hackett. It is based off of Vanuatu land divers who would jump off of wooden towers with vines tied to their ankles. Hackett was dubbed an international dare-devil when he illegally jumped off of the Eiffel Tower in 1987. It was in 1988 that he founded the world’s first commercial bungee jump off the Kawarau Bridge just outside of Queenstown. But more in the bridge later… =)