The time had come. The small cage wheeled out over the canyon. It was a LONG way down. I had limited time to reflect on my life choices leading to this place…
The 4×4 bus had picked us up. It drove us out into the wilderness. Nice and far away from civilisation. Up a rocky track to the drop zone. The view opens up in front of me and I feel my hands getting sweaty. A child comes out and helps me into my harness. It doesn’t feel fitting right, nothing like my climbing harness. I get told off when I start doing up the buckles so surrender and let this girl loosely strap me in. I give them an extra tug anyway.
At the viewing platform a comedian gives us a rundown of the procedure. It sounds terribly efficient, like processing cattle for slaughter. I thought it another joke but he points at me to go first. This is the first group of the day. And I’m the first person? No one else has been yet. I’ve not seen anyone else bungy here. How do they know it works? This added a whole other level of fear I wasn’t expecting. I like engineering, but specifically when someone else tests it!
Loaded 6 at a time into the trolley the true height is revealed. It just goes on forever. At the jump station there is no hanging around (other than the obligatory high speed hanging we are expecting) my feet are strapped together. Clipped to my harness. The heavy bungy cord bolted on. And before I know it, I’m standing on the edge.
This is the most nothing I have ever seen. A strange calm washes over me as I feel the pairs of eyes bore into my back. No backing out now. I barely hear the count down, but it happens and then I’m flying.
At this point, I refer you to the GoPro video for further information. Parental guidance required for viewing, I say “fuck” a lot more than you’d think necessary. But you haven’t done this jump. I guarantee, every word was required and reflexively screamed.
Hoisted back up the the platform, I’m greeted by a huge cheer and a huge dose of adrenalin. Im shaking and babbling to the others. They must feel reassured now the largest man of the group has returned alive? The other cattle are processed and return one by one, babbling and dribbling with excitement. The trolley delivers a fresh batch of nervousness to the jump station. Did we look that grey faced?
You can actually feel the adrenalin shot slowly metabolising back to a base level. We get the trolley back to the cliff edge. The closer you get to the solid ground again, the more normal you feel. It’s all a bit dream-like as you take your harness off, not quite believing you did that crazy jump. The photos are the proof and you literally get the tshirt.
Back in Queenstown I grab a coffee and head back to my hostel to pack up and move on. Because of the cancelled jump yesterday, I’ve got a lot of miles… sorry, kilometers, to cover this afternoon. 469 of them to be precise. It’s not motorway miles either, it’s mountain passes so takes its toll. Approaching Christchurch the land flattens out, which would be fine, as it’s easier ground. However, the cumulative effect of late nights, long roads and adrenalin filled activities mean they are boring and soon I find my attention wandering. Luckily I get to Georges house in one piece, dodging trucks and negotiating traffic cones.
I wish I was here earlier to spend a bit more time with him, but I’ll see him in a few days for Xmas at Sallys. We chat about family things and watch my gopro video of the jump. Reliving the event makes my hands sweaty again. A creepy video game later and I hit the couch, instantly asleep.