Trip Start Feb 17, 2005
Trip End Feb 27, 2006

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Friday, February 25, 2005

Today has been my best day in New Zealand by far!

Over the last couple of days I have been trying to persuade the other BUNACers to take part in the Auckland Harbour Bridge bungy jump (www.ajhackett.com). They were a little hesitant to be honest, but I was going to do it anyway...but group bookings result in a nice reduction in price! It's the entrepreneur in me I think! Anyway, gradually most of them agreed to do it which meant that it only cost us $60 each, or about 25 quid.

So at about 1pm, we all congregated in the 'BUNAC headquarters' on the 10th floor of a very tall building. We all discussed how high this bungy was going to be, and it came as no comfort when Nalin (one of the IEP representatives) told us that it was higher than the building we were standing in, i.e. about 15 storeys high! Oops!

We were picked up from here at about 1.30pm and there were a few butterflies and a few eerie silences between the members of the team! Vicky, Caroline and Adam had chose not to do it, but they were travelling with us anyway to watch. Typically, the traffic in Auckland was awful on this Friday afternoon and it must have taken about 30 minutes to get to the bridge.

Once there, we were given a short brief about safety, and we had to sign a few things (you know the usual...they are not responsible if we break our legs, or if any of the spectators suffer any kind of emotional distress, etc). Then we went and got harnessed up, shared a few jokes with the members of staff about how "the bungy rope has only snapped a couple of times this week." Good one!

We were ready to go. A really long walk along and under the bridge followed, as we listened to the cars whizz by above us. Gradually, the slope of the bridge took us higher and higher, and I remember remarking to Chris behind me "This is high enough!" Little did I know that once in the middle of the bridge, we had to go up some more steps to get to the jumping zone. It was pretty high up now!

In all honesty though, and I am not blowing my own trumpet here, but I didn't feel nervous at all. I knew it was going to be such a buzz leaping from the bridge and I was looking forward to doing it! There's something about this place that has brought that out of me already...it is the adventure capital of the world afterall!

Right, we were on the jumping level. Unfortunately (or fortunately, however you want to look at it) there were about 6 or 7 other jumpers before us. I was adamant that I wanted to be first to jump so I could sit back and relax, watching the others throw themselves 40 metres towards the sea! However, it was in reverse weight order which meant that I was second to last! That'll teach me not to skip breakfast in future!

It was funny watching the others jump from the platform. Some would nonchalantly stroll up and jump, whereas others (especially a young japanese girl) would insist that they couldn't go through with it. However, noone bottled out and it created a good atmosphere up there. Everyone saved the biggest cheer for when a young Mexican lad finally did the jump. He was a real character, constantly talking and saying how he had "cold feet," but he did it and it was fun to watch.

Soon enough, it was Steve's turn to get in the hot seat and get properly strapped up. His face was a picture...he was as white as a ghost! One of the bungy instructors was making fun of the situation, making the odd comment such as "I hope I did everything right" and the rest. They were nice guys though and definitely helped ease the tension. However, Steve still looked as white as a ghost! When the time came, he walked penguin-style to the edge of the board and peered downwards. Surely a big mistake! But no, as the instructors counted down from 5 to 1, he jumped off without hesitation. I say "jumped," but "plopped" would be a more accurate description! It didn't matter though, he had done it and within a couple of minutes, he emerged soaking wet with a huge grin on his face!

The rest of the gang went through with it without any major incidents, although Paul did look very nervous and couldn't release himself once the bungy was complete. No problem though, but he panicked a little!

After what seemed like an eternity, my turn arrived. I still wasn't nervous at all...it's strange really because I used to always get nervous for stuff like my driving test, exams etc. Not this time though! I couldn't wait. The guy was talking to me about the cricket match tomorrow and so I don't even remember him strapping me up. Then it was time for me to stand up and shuffle forward. Wouldn't you just believe it, on the opposite side of the bridge were a group doing the Bridge Climb and they ever-so-thoughtfully decided to stop and observe a bungy jump. My bungy jump! Not to worry though. I edged forward and had a quick peek down at the water...it was a big drop! A quick wave to the camera followed, and then the countdown started. Only when the guy reached about number 2 did I start to feel nervous. But I had watched everyone else do it, I couldn't chicken out even if I wanted to. So I leaped outwards as far as I could and experienced the most amazing feeling ever for the first couple of seconds or so! It was amazing! Such a big rush and I dread to think what expletives I used on the way down! But at the top of the third bounce, I pulled the chord on my left leg and it released me and I could enjoy the spectacular views of Auckland City as they hauled me back up.

I'd done my first bungy jump! And I was still alive! Bonus!

Drew was the last to jump, and he looked a bit sheepish but did it anyway. Meanwhile, Vicky was debating whether or not to do it herself. Therefore I went over and gave her a motivational speech...don't think it had a great effect though! BUT just as we were all about to leave and head back to land, she changed her mind and decided to give it a go. Caroline, who had said she'd "do it if Vicky did it," didn't go back on her word and sure enough she got strapped up too. Adam was still adamant about not doing it though as he is scared of heights, and sure enough, he didn't buckle. Vicky turned back a couple of times, but on the third countdown she went for it big style and she loved it! Caroline did it without hesitation, although she didn't stop screaming the whole time!

Everyone (except Adam) had done the jump and we were all in good spirits. It was a good afternoon as I bet we were in the jumping zone for a good 3 hours, watching other people and such. But now it was time to take the walk along the underside of the bridge, back to shore. There we watched videos of all our jumps which was funny, but I opted to just buy the photographs instead. We also got a certificate to prove that we had completed the jump successfully!

Now I've done my first jump, I have got a taste of the thrill seeking bug so stand by for sky diving news in the coming months!
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