Despite sampling the Queenstown nightlife in a very bizarre way - my karaoke and aimless wanderings somehow hadn't led me to the famous World bar or any of the town's equally fun establishments - we took a long while to click into gear for the day. Matt had been up and at it for an early morning skydive which was to become part of his 4 bungys and a skydive in a 24-hour adrenaline kick (courtesy of STA- the jammy swine!). We were due to do the 134m Nevis Bungy together at around 2pm so there was nothing to get us up out of bed apart from the lure of another Fergburger - Josh' first (of an eventual 8!) Recovery and chat-time soon became a short pilgrimage to Fergburger - we could actually see the burger joint from our hostel window, surely one of the many contributing factors to our QT burger binge. This time I went for a "Cockadoodleoink" which was a chicken burger complete with bacon, avocado and lots of other goodies. Unable - as always - to resist chips, I was silly enough to take my total spend to 20 dollars in one visit (a surprisingly easy thing to do, except most people were clever enough to realise that after a Ferg, chips would NOT be necessary).
As the bungy approached I wondered whether my burger and chips (now sitting in the hostel fridge - the burger WAS enough!) would be making a second appearance round about 2ish, but before long Matt returned from his skydive full of beans and suggesting that we head down to the Bungy pick-up for an earlier shuttle. This is all part of the Nevis experience: a nerve-wracking 45 minute journey out of Queenstown to the Nevis gorge, where the bungy station hangs suspended between the gorge, merely a short cable car ride away - an experience made much much longer by the fact the car has a grill at the bottom so that you can see the river some 300m below. This part really was a killer, as you find that by the time you are actually standing on the edge and ready to jump, you have been psyched up for at least an hour. Our shuttle was a little easier to stomach since we realised that we were in a much better state than other Nevis candidates: a group of Aussies on the bus were swigging from a whisky bottle searching for a little dutch (or was it Canadian Club) courage.
The last leg of the bus journey was truly spectacular as we mounted a very steep and rocky trail which peaked to reveal the Nevis gorge on the other side - a moment when the experience all seemed very real as we caught a glimpse of the white Nevis bungy station hanging in the middle of the gorge. The road was also horribly narrow - our only comfort for this being the knowledge that the shuttle we were on was the only vehicle allowed up the trail! Straight off the bus they secured us into full body harnesses and demanded that we were weighed once again: a necessity to determine which thickness of bungy rope would be used. With a big red number scrawled on my hand I made my way down to the cable car feeling a little reckless because I had lost Matt! With him being such an adrenaline junkie I quickly assumed that he was already on the cable car over and my suspicions were quickly confirmed. The ride over was tense for me, not because of the height - years and years of skiing has effectively drummed a fear of heights out of me (so far!) - but the fact that stepping off the car meant I would be in line to do the bungy, which seemed cause enough to be pretty damn nervous.
Getting onto the station involved clipping off the cable car - we had been secured by double carabiners (or A.D.D.s - Anti Death Devices) to the car roof - and stepping onto the thick planes of perspex that formed the all too see-through floor of the station. In many ways, up until my turn in the dentist's chair, this was the time when I felt most ready for the jump. At this point I was a bundle of energy and the speakers at the station were blasting out pump-up tunes. By the time I was on the edge I felt like I could've gone to war! Matt was soon off and casually completed his 5th ever bungy jump, confirming on his return - that despite it being a full 86m shorter than the one in Macau (the tallest in the world) - it was the best he'd ever done. Another couple of people jumped and then it was my turn. You get snapped in the dentist chair just after you've been strapped in and it makes me laugh to look back at it, because I tried pretty hard to hide it, but the fear is written all over my eyes! All the lads and ladettes involved in the adrenaline sports seem to enjoy a good laugh, and the latest in a long string of not-so-funny-at-the-time jokes came as I asked how many times my helper had done the jump and he quickly replied: "Never, it's not safe enough for me!". As much as I knew this was NOT true, I gave a very nervous laugh and was walked to the edge.
Many people say that the scariest bit is when you stand on the edge and they drop the bungy - which is attached to your feet - just out of view below you. It's a hefty bit of equipment and you really feel the tug as it drops over, imitating what you are just about to do. Admittedly, having a tune like "Alive" by Pearl Jam playing as I was about to jump made me about as psyched up as I've ever been, but at this point all that's left is another forced smile at the camera and the leap. I had decided beforehand that the best way to avoid freezing up on the edge was to jump as soon as I was given the all clear. They tell you to do as big a jump as possible to make the footage more impressive... the best laid plans of mice & men...
I hopped over the edge (probably managing to jump just half a foot forward) and the next 8 seconds of freefall was one of the strangest, most amazing things I've ever done. For the first couple of seconds your brain just tries to comprehend what you have just done, coming to terms with the fact you're falling. So, before you know it, you have six seconds left and all you are doing is yelling and woohooing before you reach the bottom and bounce back up. After watching "Anchorman" in Westport, I screamed an "I'm VERY aroused" which sadly was not caught on video, but while you're dangling upside-down in the middle of the gorge you then have to pull a cord to put yourself upright again. It's not a matter of life or death or any nonsense like that, but a guy just before me had failed to right himself and was a picture when he came back - still pumped on adrenaline and red in the face having ascended 130-odd metres upside down. I pulled the cord second time and the next bit was remarkably quick, after a clank as the mechanism to pull you back up engaged (we were thankfully forewarned about this racket so that it startled a little less!) and I was swept back up to the station within a minute. The whole of this time you are just shaking with adrenaline and I could not wipe that smile off my face for hours. It really is an incredible feeling.
Happy to get back on two feet back at the station I was back on the cable car with Matt within 5 minutes, ready to film his canyon swing. The Nevis canyon swing, like the bungy, is one of many across NZ, but true to the Nevis name is the biggest across the two islands. It's a lot like a massive trapeze, only in the middle of the gorge and what makes the experience a lot funnier as an observer is the fact that lots of people who wouldn't do the bungy try out the swing to overcome their fears - especially convenient since you can launch off in tandem. The couple before Matt were very funny to watch, since it seemed like the man might have been in the doghouse for coaxing his girl to do the swing with him! She was a wreck, which wasn't particularly funny until they let go, and the swing took them 120m away, as the girl screamed blue murder for the entire event. With Matt's swing, the helpers showed their funny side once again when they let him go. Matt had resolved to do the swing upside down and wanted a recording saying "The biggest swing in the world" for his STA video, just before he set off. On cue, just as he had said his line, the helper asked "When was I supposed to let you go?" and promptly released Matt just as he had begun to recite his line again!
Getting hold of photos and videos just after, I headed back to Queenstown and the lads while Matt went off on another of his bungys. Some much needed chill time in the room was followed by a trip to Fat Badgers for dinner. Fat Badgers is famous for it's 20 inch hand rolled pizzas. They are massive. The bartender told us that the record for eating one of these bad boys is 3 minutes 26 seconds - a feat achieved by an equally massive Samoan bouncer. At this point the pizzas hadn't arrived, and while 20" sounds huge, it doesn't do the justice that a photo provides. Josh, egged on by Griff, had accepted a challenge to eat a whole pizza by himself in half an hour, an epic task by anyone's standards (except, apparently, a Samoan's!) Now Josh is a big eater and after 15 minutes his challenge was looking very credible - and the prize that Griff would soon be footing the bill seemed in reach with half of the pizza gone. However, it soon became apparent that it would be too much... past halfway, each slice would take an age to disappear and Josh complained of having pins and needles in his throat and feeling "tingly". The half hour passed just as he shovelled in the last of his 7th of his 8 slices but he kept going to finish in 45 minutes! Meanwhile, Shil & I had shared a pizza and saved more than half for breakfast the next day! Matt filmed the whole challenge and it makes for a very funny video on youtube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CBjddZUjpuo)
Next up was our last night with the guys and gals from the North Bus, which merited another big night out and where better to be than Queenstown. The usual predrinks followed but not so usual was the 2 for 1 Jagerbomb deals we found in Buffalos which quickly meant that we were all in a very happy place! The alcohol and the left over adrenaline combined for a great night.
Check out Matt's Adrenaline video it's class: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ind_7LyA7oQ&feature=related
Sweet as, bro.
Dan / Burge