Monday, February 18, 2013


Last Thursday six of us piled into a car that was supposed to seat only five and set off for Queenstown, the adventure capital of the world. Besides the fact that I knew I wanted to go bungy, we really didn't have much of a plan. The car ride up was probably through some of the most beautiful scenery I've ever had the pleasure of admiring. My tablet, loaded with books and games for the trip, lay forgotten in my lap for the entirety of the ride.

White sky, blue water, and stony banks

After arriving in Queenstown we got settled in the hostel, and then argued over what we should do the next day. One of the hosts at the hostel began to rave about how amazing river surfing was, so we all bought tickets to that. River surfing is essentially white water rafting, but instead of a raft everyone rides a boogie board.

That night Donna and I separated from the group and went out for a fantastic valentines day dinner. It was one of the prettiest (and most expensive, but totally worth it) meals I've ever eaten.

The next day we woke up bright and early to catch the bus to the Kawarau bridge for my bungy. The Kawarau bridge sits 43m above the surface of the beautifully blue river below. It is also the first commercially opened bungy jump in the world.  

When we set out for the bridge I was going to be the only one of our group that was jumping. By the time we got there however, three other members of our group had nervously agreed to jump as well.

I was up first, and after getting my harness and GoPro set up, made my way to the edge of the bridge. Looking down made my head spin, but there was a line behind me so I tried not to hesitate. I thanked the goofy bungy operator who had set up my harness, and leapt into the blue below.

Look out below!
The few seconds of freefall were intense, and the water rushing up to me exhilarating. As the bungy stretched to it's limit, I was plunged face first into the water below, and then immediately yanked back out, soaked but laughing.

There's GoPro footage of the jump on Facebook if you want to get a better idea of what it was like.

The rest of the group who were jumping followed suit, and soon we were all piled back into the bus and on our way to the next activity for the day, river surfing.

We arrived at the part of river we were surfing, a few kilometers upstream of the bridge we had jumped from over the Kawarau river just a few hours ago. The section of the river we were to be riding is known as the Chinese Dogleg. We struggled into our wetsuits and fins, grabbed our boards, and splashed into the water.

After some basic training from our guides, we set off downstream. The calm parts of the river were absolutely gorgeous, and we passed a number of beautiful views. One of them was a set piece for the Fellowship of the Ring, where the fellowship passes under the pillars of the kings.

Pillars of the Kings

There were no kings to be seen from our boards below as they were computer generated for the film, but the cliffs were still amazing to see.

The rapid parts of the river were a different matter entirely. It's hard not to appreciate the raw power that water can hold after you've been subject to it's wrath with nothing more than a life vest and a boogie board to keep your head above the surface of it's boiling madness.

It was a blast getting tossed around by the crazy white water, but after the end of our two hour trip we were all exhausted from clinging to our boards and kicking frantically to make sure we didn't get smashed into the sides. The guides had their hands full rescuing those of us that were pulled off the safest paths, but they did an excellent job and I'm sure none of us were in any real danger.

We headed back home to Dunedin the next day, much of our group complaining of being sore but sorry we had to leave Queenstown behind us. Donna and I will be headed back up there in a few weeks, and can't wait to see what we do next time.

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