Prior to our trip around the world, we would never have gone bungy jumping. That’s just for crazy people, right?! But as we passed bungy jump locations around the world, the idea grew on us. Once in Queenstown, the birthplace of bungy jumping, the idea didn’t sound so crazy anymore.
How could we circle this globe, trying to experience as much of the world as possible, and not go bungy jumping?
Little known fact, it was really Tyler who put us up to this. He has been so excited about bungy jumping since the start of the trip and he was the one looking into the perfect spot for us to get our crazy on even before we arrived in Queenstown. Thank you Tyler, for getting us all to face our fears and do something that none of us would ever regret.
And here lies the tale of four bungy jumps, described from each of our point of view. In order of jumps I will tell our family’s story of what it is like to attach ourselves to a rubber band and throw ourselves off of insanely high bridges and ledges.
This post was written in 2015, on our first visit to New Zealand.
I was the first of our family to make the leap. No surprise, I am usually the guinea pig, the one who makes sure that it is safe for everyone else.
The Kawarau Bridge was the site of the first commercial bungy jump by AJ Hackett in 1988. This place has been responsible for throwing people off of bridges for almost thirty years.
We arrived on a drizzly day, more just to be spectators rather than actual participants. As I watched a young man have a rubber band tied to his ankles and then calmly jump 43 meters to the river below, I decided that it would be a good idea for me to do it as well.
Sounds like fun, right?!
I paid my $195 NZD (about $150 USD) and signed up for a 2:30 time slot. I had a little less than a half an hour, just enough time to go to the bathroom two more times and jump around like a nervous wreck. Oh, what have I gotten myself into?
At 2:30 all four of us walked out onto the Kawarau Bridge. I was very, very nervous but trying to act cool. Tim, Tyler, and Kara were very excited for me and I think that Kara was a little in awe about what I was about to do (so was I!!!).
I was helped into my harness and then I watched as two younger women in front of me jumped off of the bridge like it was nothing. And then, OMG, it was my turn. Time to really get scared.
Tim took Tyler and Kara back to the viewing platform while my legs were tied together at the ankles and the bungy cord was attached. Meanwhile, the song “America Pie” was playing on the radio. Let me tell you, it was even more nerve wracking listening to the lyrics “this will be the day that I die” as I was getting prepared to jump. Holy shit! I am going to jump off of a freakin’ bridge. The reality of what I was about to do really sunk in.
Prior to signing myself up for this insanity I had some idea of how high we were off of the ground but that was not enough to prepare me for my first view from the jumping platform. There was a little yellow raft floating in the river that was going to scoop me up after my jump and it looked so, so far down. Instantly, I was terrified and wondering “how can I get myself out of this?”
Standing on that platform, there was nothing about this that seemed fun anymore.
The Jump Master, who was incredible, eased me out to the edge of the platform. In my mind, I remember clinging onto him and saying over and over again that I couldn’t do this. I honestly believed I couldn’t. The Jump Master calmed me down and had me wave to the cameras. Oh my God, I know what I am going to have to do in a few seconds and I don’t know if I can do it! In my head I was screaming “No! No! No!”
As he had me look out in the distance to another bridge, I made the decision that I was going to do this, no matter how terrified I was. There’s nothing like peer pressure and my own personal pressure to gear me up and get my mind right. Time to jump off of a bridge with a rubber band attached to my ankles.
The Jump Master counted down… 3… 2… 1… and, even amazing myself, I made the leap. I soared out as far as I could, figuring if I am going to do this, I am going to make it the best bungy jump ever.
Immediately, the sense of falling was overwhelming. I had planned on not screaming, but some crazy, primal scream came out of my mouth. At that moment I had never felt so scared in my whole life. There is just nothing normal about jumping off of a bridge, which I just did.
The river below was rushing to my face and my stomach was still up at the platform. Then, relief! The bungy cord tightened and I could feel myself being yanked up and away from the water. I did it!! I started laughing hysterically and was congratulating myself on my craziest accomplishment ever. One second I was scared out of my mind and the next I was laughing like a little girl.
I bobbed around for awhile, so pleased with myself, and then was pulled onto that little yellow raft that just moments ago seemed so far away. Afterwards, I had the biggest adrenalin rush ever and was so very proud of myself.
I have learned that it is normal to be afraid, but I do not let my fear stop me from doing the things I really want to do. If I had let fear stop me, we would not be taking this year long trip around the world.
So here I am on the Kawarau Bridge sitting on a wooden platform next to the jump zone. I’ve got a backup safety harness around my waist and the jump master is preparing my legs for the connection to the bungy cord. Snoop Dog is playing in the background and the other workers are preparing everything for my leap of faith while they are grooving to the music. There was a laid back, but yet party type of vibe in the air.
I look down at my hands and I’ve got 78 written on my left hand, which is my weight in kilograms. And I’ve got 54 written on my right hand, which is my jump number. The body markings reminded me of my first Ironman race, which uses body markings for your race number and age. I recall nervously standing on the beach in Panama City Beach, Florida looking down at my feet and visualizing my race strategy in my mind over and over again while waiting for the race to start. And here I am now nervously looking down at my feet and visualizing how I plan to jump off of this perfectly stable bridge.
The jump master started giving me instructions but I was too nervous to comprehend any of it so I asked him to repeat it and it was still a blur. He helped me stand up and I hopped over to the jumping ledge. On my right I saw a metal handle so I grabbed it so I wouldn’t fall off the ledge. Which is kind of funny since I was about to jump from the very same spot. I guess it was a natural reflex.
The jump master had me wave at a camera for a photo, wave to Julie and the kids on the viewing platform, and then he counted me down. As I looked down at the river below I hear “3, 2, 1, Go for it!”. My grip on the metal handle tightens and I look over at Julie and mouth the words “Oh Crap”! I wasn’t sure if I could really jump. Something in my brain said No Way!
I knew if I was ever going to bungy jump then this was the perfect place. The safety precautions they took were top notch, the water below gave a false sense of extra security, the coolness factor for jumping from the first commercial bungy site in the world was off the charts, and the adrenaline rush is supposed to be wild. So if I was ever going to do it then it was now.
The jump master stood behind me and said let’s try again. He had me let go of the metal handle and hold my arms out straight in front of me so I couldn’t grab the handle again. Then he had me look out straight ahead at another bridge in the distance instead of looking down.
Then he counted me down again. I hear “3, 2, 1, Get Crazy!” I bent my knees and jumped. It was over in flash and at first everything was a blur, like my brain blocked out the moment. It took a minute before I could actually process what just happened.
I remember the act of jumping from the bridge was scary but the fall itself wasn’t scary. But there was still a sense of relief when you feel the recoil of the bungy. The bungy recoiled me a couple of times and swung me around as my motion slowed. I was so happy that I yelled out “Flying like Superman!” for the kids to hear as I swung upside down. I had used that line earlier in the trip when we were ziplining in Thailand and the kids loved it.
I never did get the adrenaline rush that I heard so much about, which left me with a slight sense of disappointment. Enough that I considered a second jump, but ultimately decided to keep my feet on the ground at least for the rest of today.
As a little background, Tyler jumped from a different location than Tim and I, at the Ledge Bungy overlooking Queenstown. Tyler was 12 years old and almost 2 kg under the minimum weight for a bungy jump, so for the 24 hours before his jump he was eating like crazy. When we arrived at the Ledge Bungy, we still didn’t know for sure if Tyler would be allowed to jump. And here is his story from his perspective.
On the cable car up the mountain I was really nervous, excited, and just could not get the jump off of my mind! For the whole day so far I have been really shaky because of the upcoming jump. Trust me, you see what Mom and Dad did and you’d be really nervous too! A couple of bathroom breaks later, we were being weighed in [Tyler made weight with lots of food, Powerade, and my sweatshirt] and ready to bungy! Two people later, I was on the edge and smiling at the cameras!
Then, I backed up, prepped myself, and they gave me the countdown. 3… 2… 1… Bungy!!
When you first jump over the edge, you freak out at the thought of jumping off. You’re falling through the air, stomach gone, and hurtling toward the ground below. It was really foggy so I couldn’t see the ground, but it was still scary!
When I jumped off I meant to do the Superman but I ended up doing a cool looking flip! The wind was crashing against my face and everything was crazy! And all of a sudden, I stopped, and was flying up through the air! The fear passed and on the small swings I had a great time. Then, they pulled me back up and then it was Kara’s turn!
This is Julie again. By the way, Tyler was amazing. He ran and jumped off the platform without hesitation, did a front flip, and thoroughly enjoyed himself. Tim and I were amazed at his bravery.
Kara did the bungy swing (she was 10 years old). She did not weigh enough for the bungy jump. She had to dangle in midair and then pull a ripcord that released her, letting her fall at least 30 meters and then swing out over the trees. It was just as much of an accomplishment as bungy jumping. Kara was fearless and liked the first time so much she went back for seconds. And here is our final story…
On the morning of the day that I was going to go bungy jumping I kept feeling excited and scared! It was also like that the night before.
When I was just about to do it I felt SO SCARED, NERVOUS, AND EXCITED!!
3… 2… 1… BUNGY!!
I pulled the strap and I felt myself go flying! I lost my stomach, wind was flying in my face, and I did not know what was going on. I was so scared that I could not even scream! That is because I was hanging safely in midair and then, before I knew it, I was going SUPER FAST! After that, it was lots of fun. WHEEEE!!!
Afterwards, because I was too scared to scream, the crew thought I was really brave to not scream, when it was the opposite. Cool!
I hope you enjoyed our tale of four bungy jumps. We certainly had a good time coming up with crazier than normal material for the blog!
More Information about New Zealand
ROUTEBURN TRACK: The Routeburn Track is one of New Zealand’s Great Walks. It is one of the best hikes we have done in the world. It is typically done as a multi-day trek but can be completed in one day if you are very fit and fast.
SOUTH ISLAND: On the South Island of New Zealand, visit Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound, spend a day or two in Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, visit Akaroa and Banks Peninsula, go on a helicopter flight to see Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers from the sky, and learn about the best things to do in Queenstown. For the full list, read our article Best Things to Do on the South Island.
NORTH ISLAND: Top experiences on the North Island include spending a day or two in Auckland, hiking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, visiting Cathedral Cove, touring Hobbiton, cruising the Bay of Islands, and seeing glowworms and blackwater rafting in the Waitomo Caves. For the full list, read our article about the Best Things to Do on the North Island.
NEW ZEALAND ROAD TRIP: With 3 weeks in New Zealand, visit the highlights on a road trip to the North Island and South Island. If you have less time, you can shorten this itinerary by spending 2 weeks on the South Island.
We have TONS more information about New Zealand in our New Zealand Travel Guide, including Auckland, Queenstown, Wanaka, Aoraki/Mount Cook, Franz Josef, Christchurch, Wellington, Taupō, and the Milford Sound.
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