Bungee jumping is an activity that defies logic and is a true leap of faith that overwhelms the body with adrenaline and smothers the mind with fear. Jumping off a bridge and hoping that the elastic band attached to you is strong enough to prevent you from hitting the ground seems incredibly stupid, but there is a lot more to it as we were about to find out…
Queenstown is the capital of extreme sports, where bungee jumping was invented. We had made up our mind to either jump here or not at all. It was here that the bungee phenomenon began back in 1988 when the bungee pioneers AJ Hackett and Henry van Asch started off the world’s first commercial bungee site at the historic Kawarau Bridge near Queenstown.
Once we had decided we wanted to jump we had the agony of choice. At every corner there are different jumping sites and it took us a while to decide for Australasia’s highest bungee jump with a 134 meter drop which translates to 8+ seconds of free fall!
Once we had booked our jump and had been weighed twice, we had a look at the elastic bungee ropes we would soon entrust our life to. They are made up of hundreds of single latex strands tied together by more latex strands:
The cross section of an old bungee rope:
On the day of the jump a 4 WD bus drove us from Queenstown through the beautiful Gibbston Valley to the ruggedly isolated Nevis Base. Before we got harnessed up, we both visited the toilet one last time 🙂
We got weighed again, were harnessed up and led to the site. Because of the height of the jump, we got a full body harness and not only an attachment to the ankles.
Here the view from a platform on the side of the valley before we boarded the cable car to the jump pod hanging in the center of the valley over Nevis River:
On our way to the pod we could see and hear other people plunging into the depth and being pulled back up again:
As we were waiting the queue ahead of us got shorter and shorter, whilst we got more and more excited. Then it was finally Andy’s turn and he was seated in the chair and geared up:
After another brief security instruction I scurried over to the jump area and stepped up on the edge of the platform. Standing there, this is approximately the view you have when you look down:
And then the countdown began:
|Five…||Boom-boom, I felt my heart beating in my chest.|
|Four…||Boom-boom, I felt my heart beating to my throat.|
|Three…||I tried to swallow and take a last deep breath.|
|Two…||I shouldn’t have looked down into the abyss. I’m so glad I visited the toilet before…|
|One…||Oh my good, I’m really doing this!|
|Woohoooo!||I spread my arms and jumped off the platform…|
Once you’re in the air everything seems to happen in slow-motion. My glimpse slowly lowered from the horizon down to the abyss and as the ground came rushing towards me and my stomach started to turn from the state of zero gravity, I noticed that I had been yelling at full lung. I’m not quite sure if it was the “Whoohoooo” I intended to start with, but I noticed that all the air was used up and I was still falling!
The ground was still racing towards me and I drew in another lung of air. I could begin to determine the single rocks in the river and felt the rope slowing down the fall as an overwhelming feeling set in. It was a mixture of: “Oh my god, I really did this”, the zero gravity feeling turning my stomach round and round, all the adrenaline in my body being released and the feeling that “Thank god I am still attached to the rope”.
What an incredible rush! Bungee Jumping is listed on most of those “101 things to do in your life” for a good reason and definitely an experience of a lifetime!
After several bounces back up and down, but overall in less than two minutes, I was back up at the platform, feeling a mix of relief, that I had dared to jump, and happiness, that I had survived it…
I just couldn’t wipe that smile off my face for minutes…
And while I was still all relieved and happy, Tini still had to jump:
All geared up and with both feet tied together she tip toed over to the edge of the platform. She did the count down and jumped off with a decisive leap:
As soon as she left the platform and jumped into the wild-open-nothing I heard her yell at the top of her lungs and knew she was feeling what I had just been through…
Tini too had time enough to take another breath and continue screaming before she got stopped smoothly by the rope and bounced back up and down for several times before the realization kicked in: “I really did it!”.
The jump does something to you which is difficult to put in words, but puts that smile on your face:
In the end you only live once. Whether you translate this into “carpe diem” or use it to justify mortal caution, is up to you. For us it was an awesome experience and we are glad we dared to jump!