You’ve all been there. Your child (or you, perhaps) did something of questionable judgement, and the rationale for the action was “Well, everyone else was doing it!” Then you say, or hear, those words, “So, if they jumped off a bridge, would you?” (You’re SUPPOSED to say NO, by the way).
So, there we were just 10 minutes outside Queenstown, on a platform about 100 meters above a river. We had decided to ‘do’ the ‘The Canyon Swing”, which is a 60 meter free fall straight down, and then strapped in a full body harness you swing another 200 meters to the other side of the canyon. And, if all went well, the nice young men at the top would hoist you back up to the platform.
This was (I’m sure you’ll be surprised) my idea, and the boys were all for it. Debra, having two of those pesky ‘X’ chromosomes which actually cause you to sensibly answer questions like, “What could go wrong?” chose to sit this one out. Smart girl. I was hoping to go first, but Matt beat us all to the punch when they asked for volunteers. Here, in the multishot of the jump, you can see him calmly smiling, suspended 100 meters above the canyon floor. I can tell you, I would not look so relaxed. In this particular ‘jump’, you are suspended above the canyon, and the nice young men ‘cut the cord’ when you’re least suspecting it. Now, doesn’t that sound fun? Matt was all smiles, and actually did the jump twice.
Ryan went next. He, too, make it look smooth and easy. For his second jump, he just simply leaned backward and fell into the canyon. Deb, watching from the platform above, just about had a heart attack. Oh, to be young, do a jump like that, and come up and say, “Can I do that again?”
I went last. I did feel safe, having seen Ryan and Matt survive their jumps. There were also three guys, each of whom did his own separate safety check before they let me near the edge of the platform. I had opted for the ‘pin drop’ jump, where you placed your hands behind you, interlock your hands, and keep them that way for the whole jump. I very nervously made my way to the edge of the platform. Never mind I knew I was strapped in, just inching towards the edge of the platform was nerve racking. I stood there on the edge of the platform and looked over the edge. Big mistake…for two reasons. First, of course, it was terrifying to look down. Second, the young men up on the platform like to have a little fun, so the minute I wasn’t watching them, they pushed me towards the edge (all the while holding on to me so I didn’t actually go off the platform). Boy, that was funny! (for them). When I got the OK to jump, my feet suddenly became lead weights. I will be honest…jumping off the platform was the single most difficult thing I’ve ever done. Every brain cell in my body (all three of them) was yelling “Don’t jump!”. But, my kids had jumped, and everyone was watching me. I couldn’t chicken out.
Here is what it’s like to free fall 60 meters. First, it’s not like the cartoons you watch. You don’t, as you jump up and off the platform, hang there suspended for a moment before gently beginning your descent. The very second you jump off the platform, gravity grabs you by both ankles and yanks you downward, screaming towards the canyon floor. You don’t have time to savor a moment of being weightless, or watch birds on your way down. You just hope the harness and cables hold. They did, of course, since here I am writing about it. Maybe if I did a second (or third, or fourth?) jump time would slow down and I could more fully ‘experience’ the fall. Maybe…but one jump that day was enough.
All that being said, we do plan to go back there and do it again…(that’s the Y chromosome talking).
Queenstown is the adventure capital of New Zealand, and as you can see, we took advantage of that fact. We all had the weekend off, and the weather was still good, so after finishing work on Friday, we drove just three and 1/2 hours to adventure town, Nz. We stayed in a wonderful apartment on the lake, with a beautiful lake view. It was site to wake up to Saturday morning. No moss growing under our feet, though, so Saturday we were off to jet boat the Dart River….where fashion is king!
The jet boat is a pretty common site on these rivers in Nz because they can travel in water as shallow as 4 inches deep. We first took a bus from Queenstown to Glenorchy, a very small town on the banks of the Dart River. Though small, Glenorchy is famous because of the all the movies which have been filmed in that area (yes, some Lord of the Rings, but many others as well). Interestingly, even the mountains depicted on the bottle of Coors Beer used to be the mountains around Glenorchy (until the CEO of Coors Beer came to Nz, and was told this story, and went and checked it out for himself….and it was true….so he changed the label a bit). The ‘boat’ seats about 10 people, but in reality it is just a thin shell of metal housing an 800 horsepower engine. It’s a blast. You literally fly up the river at about 45 mph. The scenery was spectular!
There was just one breathtaking vista after another. We got out of the boat about 30 miles upstream, and went for a little walk in the forest. There was some remaining set material from the the Hobbit movies, and my how Ryan has slimmed down.
You would like to think we would want to relax after this, but no. We went straight from the jet boat ride to the gondola. What an amazing view of the Queenstown area from this vantage point…
Once at the top of the mountain, you can ‘land luge’ it a bit. It was so fun!
I think we went on the luges about 10 times. It was blast.
What a paradox New Zealand has been. On the one hand, I’ve had so much more time for my family here. Quality of life is important to New Zealanders, and despite my full time job, I’ve been home for every dinner, been to the majority of my kids’ sports games and even have time to be the water polo coach for the high school water polo team. All that, and I have time to reflect on how fortunate I am to have this time. And then, on the other hand, is the no-holds-barred, petal-to-the-metal adventures we’ve had (almost every weekend). We are indeed, fortunate to be able to live here and enjoy the bounties of New Zealand. This Queenstown trip was two weeks ago, and we’ve just returned from a (three day) weekend in Wanaka….which of course will be my next post.