Living on the Edge
On Friday, Kristi, Kendrick, Chandler and I took a break from studying and drove three hours to Taupo to cross something very exciting off our bucket lists.
We went bungy (or bungee) jumping.
Bungy jumping was first commercialised in New Zealand in 1988 near Queenstown in the South Island, and since 1991, over 350,000 people have jumped at Taupo Bungy in the North Island. Yesterday, I joined that number of brave souls and experienced the thrill of a lifetime. At Taupo, jumpers fall 47 metres (51 yards) before reaching the Waikato River below, making it the highest "water-touch" bungy jump in New Zealand. (Although, I didn't get to touch the water. I don't weigh enough, and it was kinda chilly the morning of the jump.) The facility is highly professional, and the likelihood of injury is very, very slim. Bungy jumping is completely safe, given the jumper is healthy and has no previous injuries.
We originally decided to do this when we found tickets online for $100 less than the initial price. (Let's be honest: $170 NZD is a little pricey for me, but $70 NZD doesn't seem bad at all for this experience.) We booked the jumps a few weeks in advance, and the day of our jump was looming in the back of my mind ever since. I was so excited to try this, but I was also ready to get it over with. I watched so many videos about the facility, read every FAQ, and checked and double-checked their safety information leading up to Friday. Honestly, my greatest fear wasn't the jump. It was backing out of the jump when I reached the platform. (I paid to do this, plus I'm a little too proud for my own good.) I decided that no matter what, I was coming off that platform, even if someone had to push me.
Friday the 30th came all too quickly. Fortunately, we were able to borrow a friend's car for the day to get up to Taupo. So, at 6:30 Friday morning, we departed, our jump time growing ever closer and closer. I think the drive to Taupo was one of the quickest three hours of my life, and by the time we arrived at the Taupo Bungy facility, my heart was racing. I felt very nervous, but I was working hard to make my excitement outweigh the edgy feeling in my stomach.
Kristi and I were going first. The staff checked us in and led us to the platform. There, we were put into harnesses (which made me feel much safer) and waited for the couple before us to finish their jump. While we were waiting, Kristi and I decided that she would go first, but the guys on the platform had a different plan. I had to go first, although we're not really sure why. They led me to the bench by the edge, and I did my best to appear calm, cool, and collected, even though I was about to throw myself off a 47 meter platform. They strapped the ankle harnesses around me, and let me tell you, those things kinda hurt! I could barely feel my feet since they were put on so tight, although I did appreciate knowing they weren't going to come off. (While all this was going on, Kendrick and Kristi were telling me to jump off on my own, without the "help" of the crew. At that point, I was just ready to be done, no matter how I got off!)
After being checked and double-checked, I made the shuffle to the edge and looked down at the blue water below. (Hats off to New Zealand for having so many gorgeous rivers!) I looked up, waved at the camera and one of the crew members began the countdown. "Three, two, one. Bungy!" Those three seconds were some of the longest of my life, and my heart and my mind were racing. I couldn't believe what I was about to do! In those few seconds, I purposed to do it all on my own. I knew that the longer I stood there, the harder that was going to be. (Plus, if I stood there too long, the guy behind me was going to push me off.) So, when he said "bungy," I leaned forward and started my head-first descent towards the water below.
I wish I knew how to properly describe the feeling the fall gives you. The air is rushing past your ears, the water is coming closer and closer to you, and you feel like you're flying. Before you know it, you reach the bottom and start to shoot back up towards the top, seeing the world around you in a completely different way--- upside down, hanging from the sky! It really was incredible and, it was over all too quickly! Less than a minute after jumping, I was being lowered into a raft where two more crew members helped me out of the gear and took me to shore. They asked about where I was from, how I enjoyed the jump, and why I was in New Zealand. (Everyone at Taupo Bungy is very friendly and really helped make the experience great!) When I arrived on shore, I stood and watched Kristi jump before we hiked back to the top. Walking back was so hard! We were both out of breath and our hearts were still racing from the adrenaline. Finally, we made it back to the top to see Chandler and Kendrick before they jumped. I'm so glad we had a group to do this with. It was great to have friends to back you up on this. Plus, we could all take pictures and videos of each other, although I still splurged and bought the video that Taupo Bungy puts together. (It really shows off my almost perfect bungy form!)
After everyone jumped, we made our way into town so we could eat and so Kendrick could catch his bus to Auckland. We had some great (cheap) pizza before he caught his bus, and then, us girls stayed in Taupo for a couple hours. We went to some hot springs and relaxed in the water for a while before we drove back to Palmy. Even though the drive home was long, it was still an amazing day!
I still can't believe I actually did this, although I'm so very glad I did. I didn't come to New Zealand with the intention to bungy jump, but it has definitely been one of the coolest experiences I've ever had. I hope I haven't worried my family too much by trying this, and I really hope I don't worry them too much by saying I that I want to try it again someday. (Except, I think I want to go a little higher. Jumping from 47 metres was over with way too quickly!)