Queenstown, New Zealand
I had gone to sleep last night trying to hypnotise myself into thinking that I would be fine. I pictured succesful attempts of jumping in my mind, trying to prepare myself. And by morning, I awoke, listening to an excited Mike whispering ‘Bungy!’… and I quickly decided to think of something else. By 11 am we were well on our way. The 40 minute bus ride started ordinarily. Then we turned into a private road and within a few minutes, our driver pointed towards where we were going. In front of us was a narrow dirt road, steeply rising up the side of a mountain. A bus load were decending, probably in 1st gear, and very slowly. And once they had passed, we started. Looking out the window, you could see just inches between the bus wheels and a near vertical drop-off. As we rose higher, the view got more and more scary as well as breathtaking. And at the top we saw it. Between the canyon walls were lengths of cable. Hanging from the cable, right in the centre was a single stationary cable car, and 143m below was the river Nevis. We got into our harnass, rechecked our weight and got into groups. A jerky cage transported us from the side to the middle. Getting this far had already been scary enough. The jumps were arranged in order of weight, heaviest first, so Mike went before me. Padded straps were tightened around our ankles. In turn, you got to sit in a chair and look into the camera, whilst the bungy team checked and adjusted all the gear. Mike walked over in small steps, his strapped ankles prohibiting easy movement. He felt as if he was being walked out in front of a shooting squad! On the edge was a tiny platform, just big enough for 2 feet and nothing else. There was a count down from 5. Mikes mind said ‘go’ but his body was saying ‘no’. He just couldn’t do it. The guy holding onto him tried again, 5-4-3-2-1. Mikes arms went out and he dived. I watched from the glass bottomed cable car as he plummeted for 8 seconds towards the ground. On the top of the second bounce, a strap was pulled and Mike was sitting in an upright position. Once he was winched back up into the cable car, he looked triumphant. He held out his hands and they were shaking. Soon it would be my turn. As I was a lot later in line, I had the opportunity to watch other people. I also had a lot more time to let everything sink in, and by the time it was my turn, my mind was freaking out. While I was being checked I knew I wanted to, had to jump, but something else in my head was saying there was no way I could jump from that height. With ankles strapped, I felt off balance and vunerable. Walking towards the little platform became too difficult. One step at a time I got closer to the edge and the whole site came into view. Below, the river looked as small as a piece of string. The steep canyon walls on either side, and the mountains in front… Once I had looked I knew I couldn’t do it. I got told to look at the trees in the distance, high up in front of me. I concentrated ******* them whilst moving forward, closer and closer to the edge till my toes were overhanging. At last. The bungy cord was lowered into position and I knew I had to go as fast as possible. Looking down would be a big mistake. At this point, I think I was on the verge of crying, but there was a quick 5-4-3-2-1 and I jumped. By the time I had reached the bottom I was crying, laughing and screaming all at the same time, whilst holding onto whatever I could as tight as possible. While I was bouncing only 2 words were going through my head – ‘never again’. Back at the top, I felt overwhelmed – so happy that I had over come my fear, and so upset because it had been so difficult. Back on firm ground, we made our way back to Queenstown and decided to spend the rest of the day climbing to the top of ‘Bob’s Peak’, 800m above Queenstown. It was an hour of steep climbing but from the top the views were worth it. We spent a bit of time watching the paragliders taking off and we also went on the ‘luge’ – a 3 wheeled, downhill tobogan. It was nice and relaxing after our mornings ordeal, and we took the gondola back down to the bottom.