Today was the day I died. If the elastic snapped.
Before any elastic based activities, we actually had to reach the adventure paradise of Queenstown. Weirdly, I had a dream in which I was falling the previous night, which I took as an omen. Not sure if it was a good or bad one. But it referenced my activity of the day; that was the most I could deduce.
On the way into Queenstown, we drove past rivers which had cut deep into the Kiwi landscape to make huge chasms, similar to the Grand Canyon but on a much smaller scale. According to Cookie, our driver, the rivers which flowed through the canyons were named after prostitutes who provided their services to local gold miners. One of particular interest was ‘Roaring Meg’, and one wonders what circumstances led the to the woman acquiring the prefix of ‘Roaring’ to her name.
As well as an adventure capital, Queenstown is a beauty capital. The scenes were simply sensational, with the nearby mountain ranges evoking a Lord of the Rings feel. Called the Remarkables, they do indeed live up to their name.
Once checked in to the hostel, I said my goodbyes and began the trek up to the jumping ledge. Well it wasn’t a trek, more of a gondola ride, but it was still a big climb in altitude. I was starting feel the weight of what I had signed up for now, and I spend the the half hour I had before the jump surveying the view to relax.
Half an hour later, and I was out on the ledge preparing to get my nuts squashed into a harness. I know they have to be tight (the harness not the nuts), but someone needs to invent a system that minimises nut compression when carrying out harness-based activities.
There was a guy in front of me taking his time to jump. It turned out that he had jumped before, but this time he was stubbornly refusing to go. Despite the best efforts of the bungy team, he ended up going back from the ledge having lost his money (no refunds). What a drongo.
I had been nervous yet still keen the whole build up, but as I stepped onto the actual platform where you jump, it hit me what I was about to do. Even as I write this, I can feel my heart beating faster as I recall the moment. My body was still functioning fine, albeit showing usual signs of nerves, but the feeling in my brain was something I had never experienced before. The brain realises what you intend to carry out, and does not approve one bit. It’s like a watertight door slamming shut inside a sinking ship.
Despite this, I knew of the phrases ‘mind over matter’ and ‘go hard or go home’. I certainly wasn’t going to bail after witnessing the previous contestant do so. I wasn’t going to throw my money away without throwing myself as well.
Having opted for the bungy that ties around the waist rather than ankles, I was able to run, and so took three large strides and leapt into the air. There was a brief pause in time as I went up towards the sky, and then the plummet began. The best way to describe this is that feeling when you fall backwards on a chair, except for a longer duration.
I made a strange noise, which I recall being a bit like a distressed goat. Then before I knew it, I felt the tug of the elastic pulling me back up. I bounced up and down multiple times, like a human yoyo. And then came the adrenaline buzz. Quite frankly, I was absolutely off my tits.
The bouncing stopped. I dangled in the air, admiring the view and the position that I was in. It’s a cliche, but I felt very alive. That was until a wannabe interviewer interrupted my serenity.
I heard a Kiwi voice shout ‘What does it feel like mate?’ from one of the gondola cars. ‘Amazing’ I replied, ‘Absolutely incredible.’ Until you ruined my moment you utter interrupting gondola-wombler.
After I was hauled back up to the ledge, I discovered that I was a babbling wreck, and that I was spouting incoherent shit. In a good way of course. I blabbered on to the bungy team about how good it was, and how I’d definitely be back to do the Nevis, the 134m drop monster jump.
I claimed my been there done that got the t-shirt t-shirt and stumbled back onto the gondola to make my way down the mountain. I chatted away to a friendly Belgian guy who had just finished his shift on the mountain restaurant. All introvert attributes seemed to have been suspended for the time being. My personality had gone on strike.
It took me a while to process what I had actually done once back at the hostel. Tucking into a 10NZD monster plate of fish and chips I did some thinking and realised there’s actually very little to be scared of in this world. It would seem if you can throw yourself off a ledge (with elastic attached), then what can’t you do?