New Zealand Bungee Jumping

Who wants to live forever…or the life not well lived is not worth living

This was the day. We had just gotten off the bus – I was traveling with Ryan and Johann, a couple of recent buddies from another bus group – we were all pretty excited and nervous. Saying to each other “nothing to worry about”. Just then we looked over to the jumping platform to see a guy jumping accompanied by the most terrified heart-wrenching scream one could imagine.

We went into the center and showed our left hands, which had our weight in kilos written in red magic marker. The right had our bus number and jump number. We were then reweighed to be certain of our weight. Was congratulated on losing a kilo on the bus journey.

The jump center was very modern and high tech. There was a large oval center desk trimmed in oak, where several people were serving past and current jumpers; doling out the free t-shirts to those who had just jumped and taking the video and photo orders, all with a cheerful smile. A dozen 24” monitors lined the walls. The computer system was very sophisticated. After the jump, one is able to enter their number into the touch screen tablet and it brings up the photos and video from your jump. People are able to purchase videos of their jump taken from far away as well as photos from the booth mounted cameras. Eventually I had to order the video as there was no other way to really recapture the experience. Once you purchase the video you are given a number to access the file online for the next 6 months. Sweet As.

So they have this saying here…”Sweet As…” It is up to the individual to interpret this in whatever positive manner which is appropriate for the occasion. Note: The actual saying of what it is that is “Sweet As,,,” is simply not done.

We were then advised to use the toilets if necessary as it is difficult once you are in the harness. Once done, we stepped outside where an assortment of harnesses were hanging from a rack. We were fitted out with one, proper adjustments made. Attached to it, was lanyard of 1” tubular stitched nylon webbing and a carabiner. The time was drawing neigh with alarming rapidity. This was starting to happen bro. We were ushered outside through a door labeled “jumpers” and an arrow pointing the way to our meet with destiny. Outside the air was a fresh 50 degrees or so with a fair wind. Chilly.

The Nevis Bungee Jump main building is located at the top of a deep canyon. There are large wire rope cables strung between the peaks. On these, is a hi-tech motorized platform which drives the car out to the center of the canyon. The Platform is a maybe 10×10 foot square room suspended below the cables. To access it, you must first don a harness then get clipped into a safety wire attached to the top of a small aluminum trolley car designed to carry several people at a time to and from the suspended platform. The crossing itself, just getting to the airborne platform in the center of the canyon, started to give one a feeling of unease as it gained height as it neared the main jumping station which was 134 meters above the canyon floor. (That’s almost 400 feet for those from the old system.)

The station was a room with two sections. In the first section, there was a ledge about a meter or 3 feet high you could hop up on. This we did when asked, so they could strap secure leggings tightly around our calves. We were then admitted one by one into the next room. This room had a clear plexiglas strip about one foot wide running down the center of the room so you could see the other jumpers as they jumped. Which they were doing rapidly.

Mind the wobble…

Guess who was the first of our group to go. Yup. Ok…here we go now. Ushered into the room and clipped in again, then sat down in what was like a dentist’s chair. Didn’t help that the damn thing’s base had a little wobble so that when you sat in it, it fell back a couple of centimeters, then stopped. Just what you needed at this point. As you sat in the chair, they attached the actual bungee mechanism to the previously attached leggings. Further, they explained that after your third rebound from the jump, you needed to yank on the lanyard hard to the left to remove the pin that was holding you upside down. At the apex there would be little force on the pin and it should be easy to remove. That was the theory, and in fact, that’s what happened…but not just yet.

Getting ready to walk the plank…

First you had to swing your legs out of the chair. Once your feet were planted firmly on the deck, one needed to hop and shuffle your way forward as your feet were now locked together. Little details became clear as the wind increased on your face as you neared the very short plank you would soon be walking. 

Lordie…it’s a long way down….

You were asked to pose for a picture out front…hi..little wave…breathing in, breathing out…quick look down as you neared the edge just to see where your feet were going…big mistake. Another photo..hi…focus on the opposite mountain…breath in, breath out..countdown…three…two…one…and…JUMP for…

aaaaaahahhhhhhahahhahhhhhhahhhahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhha…

Couldn’t help myself. A blood curdling primal scream came from deep within and lasted the entire terrifying 8.3 seconds of free fall until the bungee cord finally took weight and gently stopped you….and zzooooommmm…back up…up…up…and a blessed moment of weightlessness…wonderful….then plummeting back down…gently stopping, then, …..up..up…up…weightless again…liking it…once more down then…ok, gotta pull the lanyard in the weightless moment….yanked to the left hard, yikes! it didn’t budge! Yanked once, twice even harder and then…it came out and released the pin allowing me to swing around to the upright sitting position in the harness. Whew!

Shortly thereafter, heard the click of the retrieval mechanism hitting the top of the bungee rig. Soon the feeling of being reeled up quickly higher and higher… until you are once again at the platform. You are pulled in, congratulated and re clipped while the rig is removed from your feet. You are then ushered along until you are in the other room. Shortly thereafter you hop up again on the ledge and have the leggings removed. You did it. Now it was time to lord it over the other suckers who hadn’t jumped yet and wish them the best as they confronted their trust and fear issues. Rather like having just finished an extensive dental appointment. Glad to have it done and glad you did it…but not particularly anxious to repeat the experience right away.

Would I do it again….you betcha. Waiting until I’m 75 years old when it’s free.

Can’t get enough of adventure? Read about my diving trip to Australia’a Great Barrier Reef.

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