“Oh my god! Oh my god! OH MY GOD!”
The young woman's screams echoed across the hillside, attracting several bemused onlookers, while the guide edged her towards the platform’s limits.
“Don’t push me!”
She continued shrieking for 20 minutes, resisting her friend’s encouragement and cheers from bystanders on the adjacent deck.
“No way would I ever do that!” said Shaz.
“Count me out,” I agreed.
We waited expectantly, as the tension built, along with our heightened curiosity.
Finally, the exasperated guide gave her a subtle nudge, sending the surprised woman hurtling over the edge, her wails trailing behind her.
“She’s a braver woman than I am,” said one onlooker as we applauded her leap of faith.
“I still wouldn’t do it,” said Shaz.
“Let’s find something infinitely safer to do,” I suggested.
“Like what?” said Aphrodite, gazing out over Queenstown, New Zealand’s extreme sports capital.
Bungy jumping was not an option.
Neither was skydiving. Or canyon swinging, an intriguing concept where you attach yourself to a rope and swing out across empty space. As if!
“Ooh, let’s try the luge,” Shaz enthused after spotting three-wheel karts darting along a track at the top of the Skyline Gondola.
“Now that’s more like it,” Aphrodite and I agreed.
We strapped on our helmets and took the chair lift up to the next level, waiting impatiently for the safety instructions to be completed. I mean, how different can it be to driving bumper cars at Luna Park?
And then we were off, traveling down the beginner’s course at a conservative speed - until my competitive nature reared its ugly head.
“Beep, beep,” I yelled. “Move over, I’m coming through!”
I sped past Shaz and Aphrodite, waving them goodbye as they vainly tried to keep up.
“Let’s do something else that’s extreme,” Shaz exclaimed after our daring venture on the luge track.
Extreme activity #2
We looked down in disbelief, clutching at the bridge’s railing, the site of New Zealand’s first bungy jump location.
At 43m, it wasn’t considered high enough anymore.
Err, that’s already 43m too high for me, thanks.
We walked back to the safety of solid ground beneath out feet, uninspired by the opportunity to strap an elastic rope to our ankles.
We’d already had our adrenalin rush that morning, blasting down the Shotover River in Skippers Canyon.
“Jet boating looks pretty safe,” Shaz had suggested the previous day, “with just enough speed and adrenalin.”
“And safety vests,” Aphrodite pointed out.
We clung to the bar as the jet boat skimmed along the shallow waters; our (skilled) driver signaling he was about to do a 360-degree spin, inches from the sheer cliff faces and canyon walls.
I prised my fingers off the bar, frozen in a tight grip by the cold wind and water sprayed into the boat as we zigzagged across the river.
I think I’ve had enough excitement for one holiday!
10 (un)extreme activities
If bungy jumping terrifies you and the thought of launching yourself out of a plane into empty space makes you go pale, here are 10 safer alternatives for your next trip to New Zealand:
1. Tramping (Kiwi-speak for trekking) through scenic national parks.
2. Self-drive. Both the North and South Islands offer spectacular scenery, stunning waterfalls, lakes and mountains.
3. Walk on a glacier.
4. Visit an active marine volcano.
5. Go sailing on Lake Taupo.
6. Take a scenic flight over Tongariro National Park.
7. Visit the thermal areas of Orakei Korako and Wai-O-Tapu.
8. Take a cruise on Doubtful Sound.
9. Stroll through the Hamilton Gardens.
10. Enjoy sunset drinks at one of many cafes/restaurants in Auckland’s Viaduct area.
Why face your fears and suffer extreme heart palpitations, when you can have a more leisurely travel experience?
Where’s your favourite place in New Zealand?
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I acknowledge the traditional Custodians of the land on which I work and live, the Gubbi Gubbi / Kabi Kabi and Joondoburri people, and recognise their continuing connection to land, the waters and sky. I pay my respect to them and their cultures; and to Elders past, present and emerging.
© 2023 HARI KOTROTSIOS