My History with Heights….
Let’s rewind back to 2007/2008 I’d just graduated and to avoid the real world I decided to backpack for several months after graduation. St Patrick’s Day 2008 is approaching and I was in the South Island of New Zealand. Being adventurous back then for me was changing whisky brands on a night out. I was also someone who was afraid of heights – so the likes of bungy jumping etc were a big no-no. Then came along a bet from an old friend of mine who had promised to pay for any adventure activities that I took part in, provided they involved some level of heights.
The carrot being dangled in front of me got me tempted, first I opted for a Sky-Drive from 13,000 feet over the Franz Joseph Glacier – there is a video of this but it will never be shown in public. All you see is a frightened, moody and (extremely) hungover Raj. After this, I felt a little bit at ease with heights and decided to inquire into bungy jumps in Queenstown.
On the bus journey to Queenstown, I was voted as having the best costume at our Fancy Dress party a few nights earlier, which meant I won a free canyon swing – a video of this was released to the public but is hidden somewhere amongst my mass of Facebook posts during 2008. Just outside of Queenstown our bus stopped at Kawarau Bridge, home of the first commercial bungy in the world developed by AJ Hackett. After witnessing several people jump from the Kawarau bridge, I wasn’t convinced. 42 meters would be “too easy”. I had decided to take on the Nevis. Long story short, I did jump, but really messed it up by going feet first! As the Jump is 134 meters thanks to gravity I did end up with my head pointing downwards!
The Present Day
10 years on I’d been invited to a wedding in Australia and decided to take a detour from Brisbane to Queenstown for multiple reasons. Primarily heading back to the Nevis Bungy site to jump properly!
Since my last visit to Queenstown in 2008 AJ Hackett had expanded the types of adrenaline adventures at the Nevis site. Alongside the bungy jump, they now include a Swing (more on this below) and a Catapult. A few weeks in advance I had booked myself in for both the bungy and the swing, for a combo discount of 20%. Using the combo worked out cheaper than the 15% discount offered to previous jumpers. I also added the photo and video package for $110 NZD.
And Finally the Intro
Nevis, unlike AJ Hackett’s other sites in Queenstown, isn’t accessible by road due to a narrow/steep gravel track, therefore you are required to ‘check-in’ at AJ Hackett’s storefront in the centre of Queenstown. This is where you do all the legal-jargon required with such an event, followed by being weighed for the jump so that they are using the correct bungy cord etc for your weight. This is also to ensure you are within the minimum/maximum weight requirements for your chosen adventure. After this, you’ve got some time milling around before a 4×4 bus picks you up to take you up to the Southern Alps.
Upon arrival, you are split into groups according to your activity since I was doing both a bungy/swing I was told to join the bungy group as it was the quieter activity of the two. Once again further checks on weight for everyone, take place (just to double check figures). Then you put on the harness, they are the same for all three activities, so for those that are taking part in more than one activity there’s no need to change harness etc, you can head straight to the next challenge.
The Nevis Bungy
A quick debrief is given ahead of the Nevis bungy, before you make your way to the pod, at this point I was calm, fine, completely collected until we had to sit on a glass ledge in the pod, whilst the second part of the safety equipment required for the jump were attached, the jumps are in weight order and there was just the one guy ahead of me…. His jump seemed to go very quickly, next thing I knew I was in a dentist chair with the final and most important bit of equipment being attached, the bungy cord. As the guy in front of my jump was in a higher weight bracket than I was, it took a bit longer as they needed to attach a cord that was appropriate for my weight category.
At this point, I was still fine but the moment when I had to shuffle across to the little board to jump off – my head started playing games with me, the height etc wasn’t an issue, it was about not messing up the jump by going feet first again….. you’ll see more with the video below….
After the 3rd bounce of the bungy, I was supposed to pull a little tag near my left foot, this releases your feet, allowing you to sit up when being winched back up to the pod. I refused to, simply as I wanted to go back up the same way I went down, upside down, however it does make it uncomfortable and make you disorientated when they are trying to bring you back into the pod…
How did I feel after? It wasn’t a perfect jump, but at the end of the day I didn’t go feet first and felt that I left the pod having accomplished what I set out to do, even the score…..
Next, I moved onto the Nevis Swing pod…..
The Nevis Swing
The Nevis swing was still under construction when I was last in Queenstown, as I had the harness already on from the Nevis Bungy (link below), I could go straight to the pod that housed both the Swing and the new AJ Hackett product the catapult. Unlike the bungy, the swing has 70m suspension bridge across to the launch pod.
Unlike the bungy, there are different ways of enjoying your swing experience; forward, backward, truck n trailer, honeymoon any many more. You can also jump tandem should you have an adventurous partner in crime….
I was torn between upside down and backwards but opted for the latter simply due to the fact that I had just had an upside-down experience with the bungy jump. Once strapped into the seat, there was a quick photo opportunity and I was then encouraged to let go of the swing and go with my hands in the air, I declined this and was then told to look up at the go-pro and whilst doing this they released the swing.
You first drop 70 meters and this is followed by an arc of approx. 300m that you swing across…. I’ll let the video do the rest of the talking here…
Did I enjoy it? Yes, but I wish that I was able to start off with the swing and then move onto the bungy, the bungy brings such an adrenaline rush that the swing just isn’t in the same league, in 2008 I did try the Shotover Canyon Swing, where the team and the jump styles are crazy…. Hit up youtube and search for Shotover Canyon Elvis Cutaway – it looks insane!
Will I do it again?
At the same time after both activities, I think I’m done, no more, ever. Truth be told, let’s scratch that comment, I’ve settled my score, however, I am tempted by the Contra Dam bungy jump in Switzerland, the Bond fans amongst you will recognise it, yep it’s the Dam from GoldenEye opening sequence. If I can find someone who is daring enough to join me I’ll do it….