On Tuesday, we were treated to the nicest weather we’ve had since we arrived in Queenstown – in fact, it may have been the nicest day I’ve experienced in New Zealand. The sun was shining, the air was warm, the mountains and water were sparkling. Kylie and I decided that today was the day we’d find out why Queenstown is known as the adventure capital of New Zealand.
Around 11 a.m., we stopped in at an event-booking shop and weighed our options. Since we only have a few days remaining here, we decided to do what Queenstown is known for – bungy jumping (and yes, that’s how the spell it here). There were three locations we could choose from, so we decided to go for the original. After a twenty-minute bus ride through more beautiful mountain scenery, we arrived at our destination.
The Kawarau Gorge Suspension Bridge is not only a historic place in New Zealand; it’s also the site of the world’s first commercial bungy jumping company, AJ Hackett Bungy Company.
The bridge was completed in 1880 as a key access route to goldfields. While it was replaced by a new bridge highway in the 1960s, it still serves as a way for walkers, runners, and bikers on the Queenstown Trail to cross the Kawarau River. And of course, for insane people to throw themselves off of while supported only by an elastic band around their ankles. Forty-three metres down is the river.
If you can tear your eyes away from the gorgeous water for a moment, you’ll notice a boat. These kind gents wait at the bottom of the drop to reel in jumpers, so they don’t have to hang upside down while being hoisted back up. It saves time, allowing the next jumper to get in position, and also saves you from having all the blood rush to your head.
Kylie and I staggered our jumps so we could take pictures for each other, and I was up first. I got fitted into my harness and then had a bit of a wait, which was the hardest part. Dancing from foot to foot, I wasn’t sure if it was due to the cold – I was wearing shorts and we were pretty high up – or the terror. Probably a bit of both.
Finally, it was my turn. As I was getting all tied up, the guy told me I should jump as far as I could, or I’d be getting a healthy dunk in the river. I assured him I’d do my best. Kylie captured the moment.
A couple years ago, I jumped out of a plane; it was similar to this in that I barely remember the freefall. I remember gazing out onto the water and repeating to myself to jump as far as I could, and next thing I knew there was a rush, and I was on my back in the boat. I vaguely remember letting out a shout or two – it seemed weird to plunge within centimetres of the water and stay silent – but couldn’t confirm until I watched my video again.
When the boatmen had me back on land, I made my way back up to the waiting area where Kylie was watching our stuff, and swapped her in. She was a real champ and made me proud, taking the leap with almost no hesitation. When she rejoined me at the top, we chuckled over how our hands and legs were shaking as we went through an adrenaline crash, and reviewed our videos. While it was not my intention to purchase the professionally done ones, after we watched them, we just had to get them. It was only an extra 45 bucks each, and a very cool memory. We were also rewarded with free t-shirts, and these awesome certificates.
The bungy jumping is one of Queenstown’s staple attractions, and I’d recommend it to anyone who goes. Although you’re basically hanging from your ankles, I felt no pain or discomfort in the slightest, and the staff made me feel safe and calm the entire time. As our bus driver said, the riskiest part of our day was the bus ride there. However, our day was not done, as we had paid for a combo deal that included a zip line ride. Luckily for us, the zip line was right beside the bungy, so we went over and got strapped in. I went a normal style – sitting – while Kylie took on a superhero stance.
The zip line wasn’t nerve-wracking at all after the bungy jump, but it was nice and relaxing. We shot down the line, then were turned around and brought back up, giving us a chance to enjoy the scenery and watch other bungy jumpers take the plunge.
With our swag bags in hand, we boarded our bus and arrived back in Queenstown around 4:30, making the entire excursion a bit less than four hours. Definitely worth it, in my opinion.
When we got off the bus, we were both ravenous. We decided to check out another Queenstown staple – we had both received recommendations from some crazy friends on Facebook – and went to Fergburger.
I can say with no hesitation or doubt that this is the best burger I have ever had. Giant, juicy, scrumptious patties with cheese, all sorts of sauce and toppings were barely contained within delicious buns. For those of you who recommended this place, kudos. Kudos to you. You are good people.
Here are some prices if you’re considering a Queenstown adventure:
Bungy jump – $180
Zip line – $60
Combo with both – $200
Pictures or videos of bungy – $45
Fergburger – $15 – 20
Time: Approximately 4-5 hours.
The bus ride was included in the price, and was available every hour and a half or so. There are other places you can jump, as well; the ledge jump is right in Queenstown and is the same price, and the Nevis jump is $270 or so, but the jump is about 100 metres higher.
All in all a bit pricey, but definitely something any visitors to Queenstown should experience. More photos and the full, professional video will be posted when I return to Christchurch, so make sure to follow along so you don’t miss anything!