Today was the day that Alba and I took a leap of faith and bungy jumped the massive 134-meter Nevis bungy. But first, Alba would do the smaller Kawarau Bridge jump. We met at the AJ Hackett shop in Queenstown, where we hopped into a van and went to the bridge.
The Kawarau is significant because it’s the world’s first bungy jump. At just 43 meters, it’s a mere baby compared to the Nevis. But no matter how high it is, it still takes guts to do. It’s mind over matter, and unlike skydiving, it’s completely up to you.
When we arrived, we had to wait for an entire hockey team to do their jumps. It was fun watching the guys cheer and jeer each other. It was interesting to watch the different techniques they had for coping with the fear. Pre-jump, some guys got quiet and others got obnoxious. But when it came time to jump, most didn’t hoot or scream and it was a silent fall toward the water.
Finally, it was Alba’s turn. I was literally getting cold feet waiting for her as the wind was picking up and it whipped through the ravine. Her jump was the most shocking of all as she went feet first and not head first. It looked like she was committing suicide as she fell straight down. After being collected at the bottom by a raft, she hiked up the hill and arrived at the viewing platform. When I asked her what happened, she said the guy said to jump so she did. He didn’t tell her to lean her body forward and go head first, although I think he probably assumed that she would.
Next we went to the Nevis jump, which required a ride through the bush to get to there. Along the way, the views were quite stark as the surrounding mountains were mostly brown. When we reached the main office, the staff took our weights and harnessed us up. We hopped into a gondola and it carried us to the bungy pod. The gondola and pod hang across a canyon from wires so there’s nothing below you but air and the Nevis River far, far below.
As you approach the pod, the view around you is spectacular. The ride is long enough for you to reconsider your decision to jump. But I didn’t have any second thoughts. I’d waited a very long time to do this and I was going through with it. Oddly, I didn’t feel very nervous at all and was happy just to live in the moment.
When it was my turn, I sat in a chair and was hooked up to the bungy cord. The guys instructed me to pull a rip cord in my left boot on the second bounce. This would flip me right-side up and I’d be seated for the ride back up to the pod. With that, he swung my legs off the chair and I inched my way to the ledge.
The view from the very edge of the pod’s jumping platform was surreal. If you looked straight ahead at the horizon, you saw mountains and sky meet in a serene watercolor painting. If you looked down at the ground, which I did, your brain tried to calculate the distance between you and the earth. I don’t know about other people, but my brain told me it was a long, long way down and that’s as specific as it’d get.
However, before I could really think about it the guy next to me told me to say hi to the camera. I did. Then he yelled, “Three, two, one, jump!” I always did score high marks in school for listening skills. I bent my knees and jumped off the ledge. I was falling, falling, falling. I think I held my breath. The air blew past me. The ground seemed to be getting closer and closer, yet somehow the falling sensation seemed slow. How it could be fast and slow at the same time is beyond me. It must be my mind playing tricks on me. Apparently the fall is only eight-and-a-half seconds long (as compared to 60 seconds in a skydive from 15,000 feet). It felt even shorter than that.
When I tried to pull the cord on my leg, nothing really happened. I tried again and again but gave up when I felt them reeling me back up. I felt like a floundering fish at the end of a fishing line. When I reached the top, they released the cord and flipped me over. The bungy jump was amazing! I still felt the kick from the adrenaline. Would I do it again? Definitely!