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Published: August 31st 2008
The short answer to that title is go to Queenstown; though as I have a little time to kill I might as well go through how i managed it...
I headed up to Queenstown this week, travelling by myself and hoping to meet up with a bunch of different groups of people whilst there - everyone had a big shake up of plans, so after meeting up briefly with some fellow students, I was by myself and decided to get to know the people in my backpackers. Queenstown has a lot more english people visiting and living in it, the first I met was a posh sounding but totally unspoilt girl who was cooking noodles whilst washing her clothes in the other sink with her free hand, and told me about travelling all across Asia and down to here. The other I met was a guy called Tom who had travelled what sounded like pretty much all of Australia (which is an even bigger place than most people realise), and had stayed at over 100 backpackers before this one over about a six month period. Anyway they both were pretty interesting people to share a hostel with, and neither of them snored which is all I care about deep down.
Anyway I was aware that without groups of people to meet up with I was going to have to do a lot of stuff by myself and meet some people that way too maybe. Firstly I was really keen on white-water rafting while I was there, and after realising that if I didn't book that it would be just bungee jumps all week, I payed for the helicopter ride to the only river available and went for it. We waited around in a fairly remote part of Queenstown and whilst sitting on the bench half listening to a pretty funny NZ guy mock an Australian rugby fan and trying to stay awake I suddenly noticed Livvy, a friend from home and my old school friend Nat's sister, standing opposite me. I don't even know how to react to stuff like that, it justs seems so ridiculously improbable. I'm shocked when I see a friend in Berkhamstead, let alone Queenstown, on the other side of earth at the white water rafting lodge. Anyway I went over and chatted to her and her boyfriend Ian for a bit; was great to see them both and see some friendly people from home.
The helicopter ride was pretty sweet, he swooped us down through the mountains 'like good morning vietnam' and landed us at the shotover river - queenstown highest graded (atleast commerically I think) rafting river. However after them scaring us with forms for us to sign our lives away on and telling us that we do this at our own risk and some people 'break a fingernail, and sometimes something a bit dearer' and that 'we're playing with mother nature and so if it all turns to custard we can't just turn the switch off', it seems a bit tame in comparison to all the build up. Still it was pretty awesome and we did have to work pretty hard just to keep from smashing into rocks and tipping ourselves over. Some of the rapids were pretty intense too, a few big drops here and there which were pretty fun. There's action all around you too in Queenstown and while navigating a less intense part of the river, we heard a scream above and a girl swung down from about 100m above us and swang across the canyon in a bungee-type jump called the 'Canyon Swing'.
I met up for a few (expensive) drinks with Livvy and Ian later the same day too and checked out some of the bars and Livvy made me pretty jealous by showing pictures of hammocks on the beach of Fiji and telling me about the people there who offer hour long massages and the like. I must start saving for some of that action. I didn't properly get a chance to say goodbye to them either, so if they get a chance to read this, sorry we didn't get around to meeting again and hope you enjoy/ed the rest of your trip!
Anyway a day later some friends from Uni arrived and we had a few drinks that night and I got ready to do a bungee jump the next day. Infact I kind of booked it spur of the moment the next day after thinking about doing one the night before, and so had only an hour to kill before the big jump. You get a nice nerve wracking Gondola ride up 400 m to the bungee site, which passes beside you looking nicely horiffic. Anyway I didn't have much time to sit around and just went down signed another 'don't sue us if you die' form - an extra scary one this that included a section about not blaming them for the 'emotional trauma of friends and family watching if you recieve personal injury or death'. Anyway I got strapped in and sat on the couch appreciating the kiwi sense of humour by listening to a song called 'Suicide' seconds before jumping. Then I was asked to walk to the edge and smile at a camera, being dumb I din't know where the camera was and so look a little silly on my dvd at this moment, then I had to go back and get ready to run and dive off the edge.
The crazy thing about 'The Ledge' bungy is as you have the bungy strapped around your waist, you are able to run and jump as opposed to just hobble over and drop off the edge. While I don't know what the latter's like so can't really comment on how that feels or which is worse, I kind of forgot about the stuff around my torso and so running and diving off the edge of the cliff felt like a kick in the face to my instincts. I quickly got a feeling of 'oh f**k' and after a couple of seconds of seeing some sharp rocks race up towards me it was replaced by relief as the bungee kicked in. It was pretty damn cool, and randomly the guys told me afterwards that the girl who had strapped me in had just come second place in the Miss New Zealand contest - 'only number two?!' I would have said if I were a cheesier man, but I would not want to dive off a cliff and clean up vomit on the same day.
Anyway after that I bounced around all pumped up and hyperactive for about an hour before jumping on my bus home which was a loooooong 5 hour trip back. Still the guy I sat next to was cool and told me all about a trip he'd just come back from - a six day tramp by himself in the outer-regions of Queenstown - sounded pretty awesome and he had lot's of stories from the trip. Anyway I'm beggining to wonder why i'm still writing this blog as the sun is shining outside which doesn't often happen as of late, so think i'll go try and lose my pastiness for a bit.
Hope everyone's good and i'll put up a video of the bungee and pictures of the trip very soon!
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