Friday, December 29, 2006

Day 6: Kawarau Bridge Bungy Jump

"You booked the tandem one?" asked the lady at the AJ Hackett Bungy counter. "You're crazy."

Having your sanity questioned isn't exactly the most confidence-building start to an extreme activity, but we took it all in stride. The AJ Hackett folks had written our jump site, Kawarau Bridge, on the back of one hand just before we boarded the shuttle from Queenstown. They now wrote our weights on the back of the other hand and sent us off to the bridge.

before our bungy jump
Kawarau Bridge was the first commercially-operated bungy site. I didn't know whether to be comforted by their 18 years of experience, or alarmed by the thought that some of the original bungy ropes might still be in use.

A burly jump coordinator walked us through the obligatory safety briefing as he harnessed our ankles together. "Make sure you jump forward and out, not down," he warned us, "otherwise you'll end up going too deep in the water. Oh, and don't forgot to smile at the camera."

We shuffled nervously onto the platform. With our ankles firmly bound, it took our best penguin impressions to get us to the edge. We knew a single mis-step could mean falling ignominously down 43 meters to the river below, far too early for any souvenir photos.

Finally we stood at the edge of the platform. The cold blue-green waters of the Kawarau river swirled ominously below us. I suspect this was not the vantage point at which the Lord of the Rings film crew were standing when they chose this river as their River Anduin.

Kawarau bridge bungy
"Ready?" asked the burly jump coordinator. "Put your hands together like this," he explained, to keep us from knocking our heads together as we jumped. "I'm going to count to three..."

The tandem bungy jump is a sure-fire cure for bungy jump panic. When the guy counts to three, there is no room for last-minute hesitation. Jumping off a 43-meter bridge is nothing compared to what your significant other will do to you if they jump at the count of three and their ankles (bound to you, of course) stay frozen on the platform.

Kawarau bridge bungy
He counted, "One, two, three..." and we were off. "AAAAAAAAHHHH!!!!!" we yelled on the way down. "AAAAAHHHH!!!" as we bounced back up. On our next bounce down, John had enough breath for complete sentences. "I married a crazy woman!!" he yelled.

Finally we stopped bouncing, and started swinging madly from the rope in an effort to catch the long rubber pole that would lower us the the waiting raft. Or, as I discovered later, I was madly trying to catch the pole while John was actively avoiding the pole to get more hang time. Which would explain all the swinging.

We eventually dropped into the raft, got ourselves untied from the rope, and started the short trek back up to the bridge. Behind us, we could hear the exhilarated screams of the bridge's next victim. "I can't believe we paid a couple hundred dollars for that," John mused. "Want to go do the 134-meter one?"

Information and Contact Details for AJ Hackett
What others are saying about their Kawarau bridge bungy jump
  • "My heart's left my body at this point and has ran off back over the bridge, the coward." - Grimbo
  • Pictures of the jump: "bungee / bungy / bunjee / whatever" - Aniel.Net
  • "What a rush!!!" - goddess_jen
View from Kawarau bridge
Read the previous entry or check out the rest of this New Zealand trip series.

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