AJ Hackett Kawarau Bridge Bungy Jump – Queenstown, New Zealand
Hungry from all the travel, we decided on a nutritious option for lunch at Rehab. There are tons of options from hot and cold grain bowls, salads and fruit smoothies. I got the peanut and cacao bowl and Kevin order the salmon bowl. We were both so content and gleeful of this food as it was exactly what we needed. As we happily ate, we both looked at each other… it was just 1PM and the bungy we had been debating each day leading up to the trip had a last run at 2:40PM. Kevin smiled, encouraged by our exceptionally on time flights – we booked the AJ Hackett Kawarau Bridge Bungy giving us both little time to marinate on the idea.
Kevin had been pushing the bungy for awhile and I was more a fan of doing the swing, which while much larger than the bungy in consideration, felt like a more comfortable motion than the bungy recoil. As long as we could do it together, I would do the bungy.
We made our way for the 2:10 check in at the AJ Hackett location in town as instructed taking care of paperwork, signing a waiver, and getting weighed. The staff write on both hands- like a bungy tattoo- one hand your weight and one hand your jump number. Everyone knows if they see the marker on your hands what it means. In order to do the jump together, we had to be within 30kg of each other and thankfully we made that limit. “We are going to do the tandem option!” I proclaimed and quickly deflated by a staff retorting “They will decide at the bridge if the conditions are suitable for the tandem option”.
I had to work hard to suppress the panic- I was not jumping alone. I fully anticipated with my low blood pressure, the disorientation from being upside down, and the fact that there is nothing to hold onto that this may not be a pleasant experience. At least holding onto Kevin would take one of those factors away. I did not want to return home with him getting to say he did it and not me. I tried not to think about it too much as our group was called out to the shuttle bus.
I made sure to pop a motion sickness pill before the drive and while I was glad I did, I do not think it helped the nausea- from the drive out or from the anxiety I was actively suppressing, it was unclear but I felt crappy. A 25 minute drive out of Queenstown and we passed it- the Kawarau Bridge- a 43 meter drop.
Visualizing it for real was like getting punched in the face. Kevin still remained excited and I barely said a word since the time we booked. As Kevin leaned in for a hug to comfort me, I softly stated “love will not fix this”. He laughed. Here we go.
Disembarking from the bus (it continues onto the Nevis bungy and swing), we were led down into the final check in area. Our staff member gave us our tickets and told us to head to the bridge and jump- that quickly- no lead up or anything- just do it. It also helped that we had to be on the last bus of the day at 4:40 so we really had to get the jump done.
I did everything in my control to not look down and I think throughout the process I was quite successful. On the bridge, we are re-weighed and harnessed in with the flimsiest looking strap- the trapeze harness feels more secure than this one! “We want to go tandem” I nervous exclaimed. “…Ok” was the simple reply. Jubilation.
As we waited for our jump, the clouds came in, it began to rain, and the temperature dropped significantly. We were both aggressively shaking even though we were both wearing the proper clothing. This was just a taste of the crazy weather signs in Queenstown. Perhaps a sign to turn back?
In line, you immediately form a bond with your fellow pre-jump mates- people from all over the world coming to do this insane activity- bungy is what you do when you come to Queenstown and we were about to do it. Why do people pay to torture themselves with this madness?
Kevin and I learned the tandem grip before ducking under to the platform where our legs were wrapped tightly with what appeared to be a towel and a seat belt (Thank you Marcus and Pierre). If we did not hold on properly, we risked smacking into each other throughout the experience. I knew this was not going to be an issue for me.
The largest karabiner I have every seen held us to the bungy cord. I hoped these were more sturdy than the one that already broke holding the weight of my water bottle. I asked for the best technique and we were told not the jump but to just lean forward as it will provide the best recoil (straight back up instead of flopping around). “Ok stand up!”
Since your feet are so tightly wrapped (thankfully) you had to do this tiny shuffle to get to the jump platform edge. And just at that moment the sky opened and the sun came out. At least we were have nice pictures with the sun.
As we got into place, we were quickly told to look at two cameras and smile- I am not sure what kind of smile I mustered for this photo but I was constantly reciting the mantra “I must not vomit”. And just like that it was “Ok I am going to count back from 5 and you will jump, that’s 5-4-3-2-1 jump!”
We both leaned forward just a little bit, then I felt Kevin’s weight take me off the platform into a free fall.
Just as my brain was starting to process what my body was doing, the bungy griped and we bounced back up. My death grip bear hug was probably cutting off Kevin’s circulation. It was at this point I noticed how amazingly beautiful the water below us was.
After a few more recoils and outwardly announcing “OK can we be done?” that I heard the yellow boat of staff below instructing us to grab a pole. My head felt like it was going to explode. I felt Kevin reach for the pole and miss. “Nooooooo Kevinnnnnnn!” I was aching to be right side up. Kevin grabbed it on the second attempt, my hero. Then the staff said we both had to have our hands on the pole. I took a deep breath and waved my hand blindly until I felt Kevin’s arm and the pole puling us down to the boat. Laying there in the boat and looking up at the 43 meter drop we just did, I was relieved it was over- continued nausea and newly developed headache- it was over.
As we got out and took our time walking up the staircase, my manta continued “I must not vomit”. It was now that I could really appreciate the bridge and the water. The water was a truly stunning color crystal blue and all of the sudden it was entertaining to watch other people jump.
We went the watch our footage and it was proof that we actually did it, not an out of body experience. It happened so fast that it is hard to process the seconds of the fall and the recoil. While Kevin’s enthusiasm got us booked for this experience, his face certainly did not reflect that right before the jump- I am eternally grateful I did not see this before we jumped!
We purchased the video and photo package and bonus- you get a t-shirt for jumping. A pajama shirt for the trip!
As we gathered with our group, we all shared the experience. People wished they knew tandem was an option- pays to do your homework! They did not offer that as an option when you are on the bridge or even at the store front but if you look on the website, there are only two tandem offerings- the Nevis Swing and the Kawarau Bridge.
Overall, I am glad to say I have “done a bungy jump” but I do not see doing it again for myself. Kevin enjoyed the experience exponentially more, even ready to repeat the jump. I didn’t walk away thinking it was an amazingly fun experience but I can say I did it. I think if a return trip occurred, I would definitely hit that Nevis swing though!