Thursday, August 20, 2009

Mid-Air Matters

Living in Queenstown gives you a somewhat different perspective of life and I realized this on the run up to my 35th birthday. Heading fast into a quarter life crisis I naturally thought about the things I had not yet achieved. Whilst I lay in bed tossing and turning about the house I hadn’t bought and the fact that Mr. Right still hadn’t come along, I couldn’t help but think of two apparently more urgent matters…I had not yet done a Bungy or Skydived from 15,000 feet!
The following morning, NZONE and AJ Hackett sensed my panic over the phone and pulled out all the stops to get me hurtling through air ASAP. I wiped the sweat from my brow.

Driving out to the drop zone I continued to wipe the sweat from my brow and began to wonder why on earth I was so desperate to be propelled through 15,000 feet of freezing cold air.

Before I could change my mind, I was told to slip into something less comfortable; a space-cum-jump-suit with a harness strapped tightly between my legs; and was whisked off for some lessons and how to look like a banana (the classic jumping-out-of a plane position for those of us without a degree in skydiving).

Crammed into the back of a tiny plane with five other people, we began our ascent to the sun. “Yahay!! Say something into the camera” an over-excited girl with a video camera told me. Yahay, I thought. I would if my mouth wasn’t devoid of saliva.

Now, I’m not saying that tandem instructors are sneaky, but how I ended up getting from sitting safely at the back of the plane to my legs dangling over tiny green fields in a small doorway, I have no idea. What followed is hard to describe.
Freefalling towards some of the worlds’ most stunning scenery whilst the bat-girl with the camera just ahead of you is trying to get you to smile is way up there in the surreal stakes. Let me also tell you that trying to breathe whilst a hundred mile an hour a wind is trying to enter your brain via your nostrils is also quite strange.

After a sudden jolt which has your legs flying up towards your face and making you wish you’d done more yoga (the opening of the parachute), the last part of the skydive has you floating peacefully to the ground. In the words of Starsky and Hutch, all I can say about skydiving is ‘Do it!’.

The thing that I like about the Kawarau Bungy is that it tricks you. The scenery here is so beautiful that your mind is temporarily taken away from the fact that you are about to dive 43 metres head-first towards a rushing river with nothing but a rubbery cord attached to your ankles. I even convinced myself I wasn’t nervous and bounded up to the bridge with great poise.

My poise was instantly shattered of course with the chorus of wind-ups that I received from the boys on the bridge. “So Sue, shall we dip you up to your waist or just your whole head?” Mark the jump-master taunted. I quickly learnt that bravado wasn’t a good thing when it came to such mid-air matters and so I endeavored to try the scaredy-cat approach. “No don’t!” I wailed. “I’m scared of water. Please don’t dip me”.

I’m not sure if it was my awful acting skills but when I shuffled up to the tiny platform and looked down towards my fate, Mark had convinced me that I ‘would be dipped’ like a cracker. And so, with a face that wouldn’t look out of place on an episode of Wallace and Gromit, I threw myself off the bridge screaming like a banshee.Thankfully, I wasn’t subjected to an icy dip and came out of the experience as dry as bone (save the tears of joy that ran down my cheeks).

Hanging upside down, I was pulled into a small boat where I was unclipped then bombed it up the steps to my friends, brimming with a ton of adrenalin and a high that would last for days. Both companies have years of experience and are highly professional. Make your bookings at the YHA Queenstown Central or Lakefront and see what discounts we offer!