Milford Sound and Nevis Bungy jump
Trip Start Nov 21, 2008
65Trip End Mar 31, 2010
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First I'll tell a bit about Queenstown. It is the adventure capital of the world with heaps of crazy activities you can do like bungy jumping, skydiving, jet boating, and skiing, which is huge in their winter months (June, July, and August, how funny!). It has a population of about 10,000 people but that number soars to over 50,000 in ski season. There's tons of outdoor stores and there are the highest number of bars per capita in NZ. I guess you could say it's a party town. There was this burger place called FergBurger that was really popular. They had enormous burgers and stayed open late. I ate 2 while I was there and said the name "FergBurger" dozens of times (it's contagious).
Okay on to Milford Sound:
Milford Sound is a 4 hour bus ride away from Queenstown so we were on the bus that day for 8 hours. It wasn't too bad though. The bus driver was really fun, he had an entertaining personality and songs to go along with the bus ride. A nice change from our boring, lame regular Kiwi Exp. bus driver. On the way there we stopped along the way and saw some amazing scenery. By this point in the trip I've seen so many mountains, waterfalls, lakes, and gorgeous landscapes that I'm almost getting used to it. It is still spectacular though and no matter how many pictures I take, or how good they turn out, there's nothing in the world that compares to being there and feeling the beauty and the greatness of it in your presence. (sorry!) One of the places we stopped was a stream with water so fresh that we filled up our water bottles.
When we got to Milford Sound we boarded a cruise boat and went straight for the buffet lunch that was included. When the group first arrived we had a pretty good view of the sound (which is actually a fiord) and New Zealand's most photographed mountain, Mt. Mitra.
A fiord is caused by glaciers carving the land and then filling up with water from the glacier and heightened sea levels. A Sound is when the earth is carved out by rivers. Milford Sound and the surrounding sounds are actually fiords and are part of the Fiord National Parkland which is compromised of the lower tip of NZ and is bigger than Texas. Most of the land is uninhabited or untouched.
The boat took us around the sound and we viewed all of the mountains that rise up straight from the water. There is also this massive waterfall. When first discovered the Milford Track (the 5 day walk leading to the sound) was named the finest walk in the world and the waterfall was thought to be one of the highest in the world. It's actually not, I think it's just in the top 25 but it's damn high. It doesn't appear to be as high as it actually is though, because the size of the mountains surrounding it are much taller and dwarf it. All in all Milford Sound was beautiful but not as spectacular as I had expected. I think it was just to hyped up and when you have really high expectations for something it's easier to be let down.
The Nevis Bungy:
Maybe I shouldn't have gone out the night before the Nevis, but I had taken it easy for a couple nights and the backpacker spirit was in me! Plus it was Saturday night. I sure was tired when I woke up the next day but the anticipation of what was to come did it's part to wake me up a bit, plus I downed an energy drink. My anticipation was building as I sat in the bungy center waiting for the bus and watching videos of people's jumps.
We boarded a passenger van and there was obvious tension and excitement in the air as we all knew what the future held. The bus driver played songs appropriate for the mood; all dealing with heights and being crazy which it was deemed we all were. The Nevis bungy jump is the 3rd highest in the world, and part of the A.J. Hacket bungy company who invented modern day bunty. To get to the suspended jump area you have to take a Gondola to the height of the jump pod which looms 134m (440ft) over a gorge with a river below, mountains on all sides. A harness is attached to the body and even during the gondola ride you are attached. Once inside the suspension pod, or whatever the heck you call it, you get more harnesses around your ankles. It was nice to see other people go before me. There was a clear portion of the floor and watching someone jump and seeing how far below they end up is nothing short of madness. It's so far down that it seems they fall forever and it looks as if they will hit the ground. When they call your name you sit in a chair where you put your feet up and they attach the bungy cord with a sandbag connected. You're led onto this extremly small platform over the canyon, that you have to shuffle over to because your feet are bound together. WIth every little shuffle towards that protruding platform your whole body says No, No, NO! They urge you to keep shuffling forward until you're right at the edge, then they drop the sandbag off the edge which gives you a small tug. This little jolt scares the shit out of you because at this point hyper-sensitivity has dominated the entire body. They count 1,2,3, and give you a small push. It's not enough to push you off but by this point I didn't even have any time or sense for logical rational thinking. You just have to do it. The whole jumping process happens fairly quickly because if they were to give you a moment to hesitate, no one would ever do it.
The first second or two would be best described as a state of uncounsciousness, because I couldn't see, feel, or think. I think it must be the bodies defense mechanism kicking in. Then the incomparable feeling of the weight of your body hurtling through the air towards the ground. I thought 'this is wrong'. I felt 'this is unnatural'. I didn't have time for any more thoughts. I felt the pressure on the front half of my body. I felt scared as shit to tell you the truth. Once those couple of thoughts and feelings are over (about 2 or 3 seconds) the bungy cord tightens and a huge sense of relief takes over. On the second bounce up you're supposed to pull on this handle by your ankles and it releases your body into a sitting position. Then after several bounces they reel you upwards. At the top when they were bringing me back onto the jump platform I got very freightened again as I was once more suspended 134 meters above the ground.
Then as if that wasn't enough terror for one day I decided I wanted to do the Nevis Arc. They had a deal going where it was half the price if you did the swing tandem. No one in the group wanted to do it because they had just paid $80 for pictures of their jump. I'd rather pay an extra $55 for another experience than pictures of the first one. A member of the staff, an American guy, ended up doing it with me. The Nevis Arc is the world's biggest swing and while the word 'swing' might conjure up images of recess and playgrounds, this is anything but childs play. A rickety feeling, narrow swinging bridge carries you out to the launch platform. We decided to do it backwards and even though he had done it 2 times before and I had just conquered the Nevis, we were both really scared. Again you wear a harness and have to almost be verbally forced into crouching into a seated position into the swing, with your ass hanging over the near incomprehensible height. Fear, fear, fear, countdown. Again the same sort of feeling as the bungy: unconsciousness, realization, freefall, and some relief as you feel the tension of the wires and rope saving your life. During the swing backwards our feet swung up over our heads. We were sitting next to each other holding on with a death grip. We swung back and forth over the width of the canyon several times until they reeled us back in.
The next morning Andrew and I carried our bags in the rain the hostel where the bus would pick us up for my final drive on the Kiwi bus to Christchurch. The bus ride was 8 hours, but it didn't seem too long. I spend a night and half a day in Christchurch checking out the town and Botanic Gardens. Then I got a boarded my very comfortable and classy flight to Sydney on United Emirates.
That was New Zealand! I'm so glad I decided to go, and I'll never forget all the cool stuff I did and all the beautiful nature I was blessed to see.
Where I stayed
Hostel & couchsurfed