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Published: August 26th 2009
Whilst in the adventure capital of the world, we thought it would be ridiculous not to participate in some extreme activities, so I (Joe) decided to book in on a bungy jump and a skydive with Steve, whilst Sarah and Hannah booked themselves in for some spa treatments! Originally we were booked to do the bungy and skydive on the Saturday but unfortunately as mentioned in previous posts, whilst boarding, Steve managed to land a jump on his head/shoulder. This resulted in mild concussion and a grade one tear of his ACL, thus we arranged to reschedule for the following Wednesday. In retrospect this was an excellent decision as the weather on Wednesday was perfect (as you can see from the photos).
We headed into Queenstown on Wednesday morning to the NZone skydive centre where we received a fairly short briefing on what was to follow and to sign several waiver forms (which I was obviously incredibly keen to sign) + we needed to confirm we were OK to receive oxygen on the plane. This was necessary as we were diving from 15,000 feet the highest available dive in NZ. After this, we headed to the skydive area by minibus,
closely followed by the girls in the car, who had decided to come and watch before their afternoon of relaxation.
On arrival we were told to wait around until they had scheduled our jumps as there was a maximum of 3 to a plane and 10 of us on the bus. Originally Steve and I were to jump together last (after an hour of waiting around) but due to the fact that 2 of the people booked in were too heavy to jump - they must have been gutted. The limit is around 15 stone and the two in question were borderline but, because the weather conditions were so good with little wind, the jump master decided that it was too risky. This unfortunately meant that Steve and I went up in separate groups.
I was actaully feeling pretty excited about the jump but this slowly subsided into fear as the waiting began. By the time they called me in to suit up, I reckon I was about 50/50 excitement fear. The briefing was scarily brief and literally consisted of them saying "when you jump put your head and legs back and hips forward, job done, lets go!"
This was unnerving but as it turned out quite adequate for what we actually needed to do.
The plane ride up was actually pretty smooth, although a bit uncomfortable as the plane was crowded with 3 jumpers, our 3 instructors and 3 cameramen. During the ride we got a great view of the surrounding mountains and lakes while the instructors attached our harnesses to theirs. When we got to jump height it was my turn first, and i was edged grudgingly forward by my instructor so that my legs were dangling out of the plane. We then rocked back and forth a couple of times before taking the plunge.
The feeling was pretty much indescribable, the first few seconds were terrifying but then once we got into the freefall position (see photos) it was truly excilarating. The 15,000 foot dive allowed a full 60-70 seconds of freefall (although looking back it seemed to last for mere seconds), reaching terminal velocity which I am told is 200km/h, before the parachute is deployed at around 5,000 feet. My attention was mostly focused on my cameraman, to get some good shots of me whilst falling (and also because he was doing
some awesome tricks in the air like lying down with his arms behind his head), and also on the scenery around, although this task was made difficult as my goggles had been pushed up high on my face and whenever I looked down the wind made my eyes stream (honestly I was not crying with fear!). Once the parachute had been deployed, I really got the opportunity to take in the beautiful views - it truly was spectacular as I think the photos show. One further moment of terror occured when my instructor told me he was going to loosen the harness slightly and it felt for a split second like I had been cut loose, but other than this the ride down was really smooth and enjoyable, especially when we did a few spins in the air. The landing itself was also smooth as, although perhaps not the most graceful thing you will ever see!
This was truly an awesome experience and the adrenaline was pumping so much that on the way back in the minibus I was actually looking forward to the bungy jump - a feeling that would later be completely gone as I looked over
the edge from the jumpsite!
We had to wait around for a few hours before embarking on the 45 minute bus ride to the bungy site. The girls had decided not to come and watch and instead decided to spend the day getting pampered at the spa - which in hindsight probably should have been my option too.
Once we got to the bungy site via an incredibly steep and narrow road, we again received the briefest of safety talks (which seems to be the norm in NZ), got harnessed up and set off for the jump. The actual jump site was, what I can only describe as a shack, suspended 134m above a wide ravine. The only way to reach the "shack" was via a trolley out over the ravine, driven by pulleys, in which 6 or 7 of us travelled at a time. The ride was bumpy in places and it was here that the terror truly set in. Once we arrived in the shack we were ordered according to weight with the heaviest going first - I was midway with Steve being near the end (just before the 4' 11 girl). This was a time
of real nervous tension and the longer the wait for my jump the more nervous I became. Eventually it was my turn and I went through to sit in a chair to get harnessed up. The fact that the bungy needed to be repaired between the last jumpee and myself did not really build my confidence and the wait while it was fixed was pretty unbearable. When it was my turn the jump master led me onto the platform, rested the bungy over the edge, told me to look straight ahead and then began the countdown......
I was pretty terrified but actually when you look straight at the horizon you kind of forget about the 130m drop just in front of you and so as he got to 1 I found it quite straightforward to take the plunge. The main thought that went through my head as I was falling head first rapidly towards the ground was "this is it, I am going to die" but once the bungy kicks in the fear goes away pretty rapidly. On your second/third bounce you are supposed to pull a cord at your feet that turns you the right way up. Unfortunately
I didnt seem to have the ability to pull this cord (I blame the fact that it was on the side with my broken finger and I couldnt get the right purchase) but everyone else seemed to be able to do this. This meant that I had to be winched up upside down, which is not the greatest or prettiest experience especially when all the blood rushes to your head.
All in all I cannot really say that the bungy jump was that enjoyable more relief from an hour of growing terror. It was certainly a brilliant experience, and I am pretty pleased to have done it. The skydive was truly awesome and I would certainly do this again.
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