To Jump or Not to Jump in New Zealand

Kia Ora from New Zealand! I have so much to write about our trip, but for now, here is a quick story about bungy jumping.

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Yesterday, as we were driving along the Kawarau River on our way from Queenstown on the South Island of New Zealand to the mountain village of Wanaka, we stumbled upon the parking lot of AJ Hackett’s bungy jumping operation located near the historic Kawarau Bridge. This is the birthplace of commercial bungy jumping.

We pulled over to check the place out. The Kawarau Bridge is 142 feet above the Kawarau River. The bungy company maintains the bridge which is now a historic landmark. When we arrived, there were no jumpers in the queue, but there were a lot of people on the sidelines assessing the distance between the jumping platform and the river. Definitely shudder-worthy stuff.

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All I could think about was what it must feel like to step off the ledge. I mean people aren’t doing this in anguish. I had just seen a stunning production of King Lear in Wellington the night before. Lear was mad as hell as he stood out on the ledge; these jumpers were jovial. I guess I am not a thrill seeker, but man was I ever intrigued by the IDEA of jumping. So intrigued, I kept trying to photograph the actual stepping off the ledge part, as if, in doing so, I would get a glimpse into the head of a person crazy or brave enough to do something so primal, yet according to friends who have jumped, exhilarating.

As I was busy overthinking the situation, this superhero showed up.

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I followed Spiderman out to the ledge/heath/platform to get a closer look.

Here’s the drill on the bungy jumping operation. First, a staff attaches a fail-safe harness around the jumper’s waist.

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While a staff member prepped Spiderman, the first jumper of the day walked out onto the platform where another staff member, himself tethered to a safety cord, wrapped a thick towel around the jumper’s shins and ankles (so there wouldn’t be any bruising).  Next, the attendant attached an ankle harness over the towel and clipped on the long bungy cord.

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With glee, the guy jumped and was clapping as he did so!  His mates cheered him on.

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A retrieval boat, tied up to a dock at the foot of the canyon, was right there to pick him up.

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The next guy to jump brought his GoPro. These guys were confident.

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Ready,
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set,
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go,
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swing,
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and smile for the camera. Terrifying!
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Back to Spiderman

Having checked all attachments, and with a handshake to seal the deal,

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Spiderman dove

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and was retrieved.

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I’m glad we made this little detour. No, I did not jump.

Other Travel Stories
The Kennedy Bunker, a Cold War Monument in Palm Beach
Cranberry Love in Cape Cod
The Tobacco Barns of Trigg County, Kentucky
The Sheep of Nashville: The Chew Crew

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