How safe are bungy jumps?

Trip Start Aug 29, 2006
Trip End Mar 10, 2007

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Flag of New Zealand  ,
Monday, January 15, 2007

Hello from New Zealand!
Clare and I have now spent our first week on travelling around the South Island in our beautiful vintage Nissan Sunny named Sharon as she was cheap and has been round the block a couple of times ('96 was an impecable year for the Sunny if you ask me!).
Here's a run down of the places that we have visited over the last week and some highlights.
Highlights of Christchurch were immigration at the airport nearly giving me and Clare residency!  After being almost refused entry to Australia, it seems that the Kiwis are quite keen on young professionals like Clare living in New Zealand - not sure why they wanted to keep me though?!?
Not much else happened in Christchurch - we went punting on the river Avon, oh and two 10 year old kids who we saw busking in the town square got spotted by Jack Black who then got them to play at his Tenacious D gig the following night!  The kids were pretty poor and by the newspaper reports the day after the gig, Jack Black wasn't much better!
Hamner Springs
We spent a relaxing hour or so in the various natural hot thermal baths (one of which stank of Sulphur) at Hamner Springs.  Played my first round of golf in four months at the hardest pitch and putt that I have ever seen (no comment on my score). 
Franz Josef
Clare and I had booked a helicopter trip and hike on the glacier at Franz Josef which we had both been looking forward to.  The downside of booking things in advance and looking forward to it is that when it doesn't go ahead the disappointment is that much greater.  You may have guessed by the lead up here that our trip was cancelled on the morning that we were meant to fly due to poor weather conditions......buggar!  Apart from the Glacier, there is a whole lot of nothing to do in Franz Josef so we cut our losses and set off for our next stop.
After the disappointment of Franz Josef, we decided that we would treat ourselves to a bit of luxury (oh and also celebrate our engagement!)  Wanaka is a really pretty town on the shores of lake Wanaka and we really hit jackpot for our accomodation that night.  We had visited a couple of hostels in Wanaka but they were all booked out so we started hitting a couple of B&B's and hotels to see how much they were.  I had spotted a nice small place, called Wanaka Homestead, near the lake and thought I would pop in to see how much it was.  As soon as I walked in the lobby and was met by the owner who offered me and Clare "The Barn" for $180 (66GBP) (instead of $400 as a family had just cancelled), I knew we would be staying the night.  It transpired that "The Barn" was a three bedroom, two bathroom wooden cottage with a massive open plan lounge and kitchen.  It was awesome!  I'm pretty sure that we won't have another nights accomodation like this on the rest of our trip.
Not far from Wanaka is Treble Cone ski resort.  Roger, the owner of the Barn, suggested that we could take a drive up to the ski centre to catch the breathtaking views of Lake Wanaka and the surrounding mountains.  We took the chairlift up to the top and as promised the views were breathtaking - a trip worth making!
Queenstown is regarded as the home of all things extreme - be it the third tallest bungy jump in the world, white water rafting, jet boating or lugeing.  On this trip, I have three things that I would like to do or achieve, the first was to shoot a gun which I did in Vietnam (I know guns are dangerous and shouldn't be played with but it was soooo much fun!) number two on the list is to bungy jump and three is to skydive.  As Queenstown is the home of the first commercial bungy jump it seemed the perfect place to tick box number two.
The Nevis Highwire
I hope that you will be able to grasp quite how high 134m (or 440ft if you are older than 30) but it is BLOODY high especially when you are stood on a piece of wood not much bigger than your footprint with just a piece or rubber saving you from imminent death.  To get to the actual jumping platform is a bit of a daredevil act in itself as you have to travel from the cliff top to the jump station in a tiny cable car (complete with a wire mesh floor so you can see how high you are!)  Despite Clare's lack of love for heights, she came out to the jump station to give me a bit of moral support and to get some snaps as well.  Our group of 8 jumpers got all got kitted up and were told that they would be jumping in weight order from heaviest to lightest.  Being one of the lightest meant that I would jump last but one.  I'm not sure if it was a good thing to be near the end as I got to watch everyone else either jump with ease or make a hash of it and basically fall off the "meat plate".  According to Clare, I looked cool as a cucumber just before I jumped and inside I was until I had my toes on the edge of the plate and looked out into the abyss.  Too late now I thought and with a quick countdown from five, I jumped off the plate.  Nothing really happens during the initial second of flight, then the wind picks up and the next thing you know you are travelling at around 80mph with the ground rushing towards you.  Before your brain gets to compute what the hell  is going on, the bungy cord extends to its full length and you are about 30ft from the ravine floor!!!! So at this point you think you are going to plunge head first into the ravine floor, then the ravine floor starts going in the opposite direction!!!  After a couple of smaller bounces on the bungy, you pull a nifty rip cord which drops you into a seated position and you are winched back up to the jump station... alll over in less than a minute! But what a rush!!    
In fact the rush is so adictive that I have just made my second bungy jump on the original bungy jump bridge at Kawarau just outside of Queenstown.  I didn't plan on jumping here but I mentioned to Clare that I would like to pop in to have a look on our way out of Queenstown.  Next thing you know I'm all rigged up and on the meat plate 43 meters above a fast flowing river.  The guys who rigged me up asked if I wanted to be dunked in the river which was a no brainer...of course I do! With a slight adjustment to the bungy, I was given the countdown and jumped from the plate for a second time in two days.  After a brief fall, I was treated to a proper dunking up to my waist in ice cold blue river water!!  The experience was totally different to the previous days jump -  both were amazing though!!  I have now planned a third jump when we visit Aukland from the underside of the main bridge.
Not content with jumping off things, Clare and I booked a go on the Shotover Jet.  If you haven't been to New Zealand or Australia, you may have not come across Jet Boats but they are a really popular way of scaring the bejesus out of paying customers on very shallow water (as little as 10cm!) at up to 90 kph - oh and all of this with vertical gorge cliff faces only inches away!!!  Clare and I had lady luck shine down on us today as a family barged their way in front of us in the queue much to our disgust -  only for Olly the driver to open a gate right in front of me and Clare for boarding the boat.  So we jumped straight in the front two seats and quietly gave the family a big two fingers! It took Olly all of about twenty seconds to get us all soaked after a 360 spin before blasting down through the gorge virtually clipping every rock on each corner - very, very, exciting!
After all the extreme stuff, Clare and I made the most of our final night in Queenstown.  We booked up a meal at the poshest restaurant we could find (called 360 at the Crowne Plaza) (thanks K,L,A & J for that treat!) and also a half hour session in the Minus 5 bar.  There are a few Minus 5 bars around the globe but this is the first that Clare and I had visited.   We got dressed up in big coats with furry hoods, gloves and ugg boots for Clare (instead of her flip flops or Jandals as they are known in NZ!).  The principal of Minus 5 bars are that they are big refridgerators with a couple of windows where all the bar furniture is made from blocks of ice with lots of ice sculptures all around.  Cool as! (literally!) It was minus 7 degrees when we went in which was considerably lower than the outside temp in Queenstown!  We had some yum cocktails in our glasses made of ice, then headed off for dinner. The meal after at 360 was fantastic, proper posh nosh with some more delicious cocktails!  We are being spoilt at the moment!
We are now off round the southern part of the south island before heading back up the west coast and hopefully the heli hike at Franz Josef (fingers crossed)
Ciao for now
Pete & Clare
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