Queenstown. The city everyone seems to praise here in New Zealand. It’s full of skiing, adrenaline sports, snow, snow and did I mention snow?!
It was also the last leg of my intro to New Zealand. After picking up the last group of travelers to join our Topdeck tour in Christchurch, we were off to Queenstown. Those joining the tour were part of an adrenaline junky package and were seeking lots of thrills, whether it be skydiving, bungy or whitewater rafting. You name it, New Zealand has it.
I’m not much of an adventure seeker; but all of this changed in Queenstown. It was like a little switch turned on in my brain. I went from a low lying to extreme traveller.
The only excursion I initially signed up for was the Shotover Jet – a high speed jet boat that weaves through New Zealand’s Shotover River, narrowly missing cliff walls and low lying trees on the way. Most of the group signed up for this, it was a nice easy warm-up for the craziness to come.
I thought I would just be a spectator to the more extreme excursions, as this was the safe, sensible choice. First up, I went with a few in the group to the Nevis bungy, the tallest bungy in New Zealand, at a mere 134 metres! To get to the jump you have to take a horizontal gondola that delivers you to the base at the centre of the canyon. I had to get all harnessed up like those jumping, just to be a spectator. Trust me, at this point watching was all I wanted to do.
After traveling across the canyon in a small, caged gondola with nothing separating us from the ground but lots of air, we arrived at the jumping station. With a glass bottom floor, everyone took hesitated glances around at their surroundings. It was a long, long way down.
One by one, they each got suited up into complicated harnesses. After waiting for their turn, sitting in what looked like a mean dentist’s chair, the time finally came. The jump.
There is not much more to do at this point but to stop thinking and start doing. With a deep breath, each jumper took the plunge without hesitation. After an eight second free fall the bungy cord finally became taut, connecting each jumper to safety. With stunning views of the canyon and blood pumping through their veins, the bungy-ers each got pulled back up to the base. Once back to the base, there were screams, smiles and lots of tears. They were in full amazement of what they had just done.
It was pure adreneline. This is where I realized I wanted in on this crazy, New Zealand experience. So what did I decide to do at the last minute?
The canyon swing
Not to far away from the bungy is another adventure in the waiting, a giant sized swing through the Shotover Canyon. A 106 metre fall, it is the tallest cliff jump in the world. What intrigued me to do this was that you can choose how you want to jump or be thrown off the cliff! Not having as much will-power as the rest, I chose to do a tandem jump with Teresa, another Topdecker in my group. Going backwards, we would lean off the edge of the canyon, held by the hands of the canyon staff, until they chose to drop us backwards into the abyss.
I have to say, the staff was amazing. While we got harnessed up and were waiting to be dropped, they joked and tried to put our fears at ease (kind of).
“Yeah, I think that’s secure… Hmm it should do!” – comment made as they attached the last clip to the harness.
Next, we had to shuffle backwards to the edge of the base. The workers each took hold of our harnesses. Now the only thing keeping us safely connected to the cliff was their strength. We had to lean backwards so the upper halves of our bodies were over the edge.
The great thing about the canyon swing is that the staff will drop you whenever they see fit. After smiling for the camera it was time to fall, we just didn’t know when. I have never felt so apprehensive and unsure of the future. I could feel the blood pumping through my head.
Then without any warning, they let go. Free falling for six seconds, backwards, flipping through the air, we dropped. I think I blacked out part of the fall. I remember seeing the blue sky and then nothing more until we were swinging upright through the canyon. Back and forth, you feel like you’re floating through space.
It was incredible. Queenstown was incredible. Would I pay money to fall off a cliff again? Probably not. But it was an experience I will never forget.
– Canadian Kiwi Girl