With three full days in Queenstown before I complete the Deep South portion of my Stray adventure, I could hardly use the “sorry, no time” excuse for not doing another adventure activity in the undisputed Adventure Capital of the World. If you read my account of Saturday #32 you’ll know that on my first trip through Queensland I did some jetboating and rode a small bus up the infamous Skipper’s Canyon Road. Both of those activities were great fun and I’m glad I did them, but neither really moved the needle on the adrenalin scale.
I asked some locals what they would classify as the scariest activity within a few hours of Queenstown. Almost everyone said it would be a close contest between AJ Hackett’s Nevis Jump (third highest bungee jump in the world at 134m) or the Shotover Canyon Swing (world’s highest cliff jump at 109m).
At the Nevis Bungy Jump (they spell it ‘bungy’ while the generic name is ‘bungee’) you are bound at the ankles as you jump from a gondola. Even if you jump feet first you will land head first, and that means being hauled back to the platform while still hanging upside down. I’m not cool with that. The jump doesn’t bother me but the thought of being upside down for more than a few seconds is almost enough to make me pass out. I’m sure I would do just that if there was any kind of a delay in hauling me back to the gondola. Ruling this one out was a no-brainer.
The Shotover Canyon Swing, on the other hand, advertised a whopping 70+ jump styles. This was intriguing. I checked out their Queenstown head office where I watched a video and read about some of their jump styles. They stressed that since you are harnessed around the waist (as opposed to being bound at the ankles) you can easily right yourself once you reach the end of the rope. That was the big selling point for me! I was instantly committed. (Some would say I should be committed, but that’s not for me to decide.) The toughest part was deciding on a jump style.
They claim that anyone who can do a chin-up can do ‘The Indian Rope Trick’ where you simply hang on to a rope until you lose your grip and plunge into the canyon. I liked the sound of that until they said the current record is 33.25 seconds. I’m sure there are much, much stronger guys than me who have tried this and if the best anyone has been able to do is 33 seconds then my chances of getting my money’s worth are slim. Nix The Indian Rope Trick.
‘The Chair’ is designed for all those people who were told by their parents or teachers that rocking back on their chair is bad. In this one you sit in a plastic lawn chair perched on the edge of the platform and it’s up to you to play with gravity, slowly pass through the point of no return and topple over the edge. The only negative to this one would be the memories it might trigger. I don’t believe I was permanently affected by my hirsute Grade 10 teacher, Mrs. Stamatiou (or as we called her, Stan Mikita), but Repressed Memory Syndrome is no laughing matter. Cross ‘The Chair’ off the list.
‘Gimp Boys Goes To Hollywood’ was next on the list. It might not be politically correct but it’s one of their most popular styles so who am I to protest? With The GBGTH you are suspended horizontally over the canyon, staring directly at the canyon floor, arching your back and reaching for the river. They pull the trigger and you fall – eyeballs first – for about five seconds before you start to swing. This jump is a close cousin of ‘The Elvis Cutaway’ where you lay flat but facing the sky. You don’t see the river but you do get a pretty good look at the jagged canyon walls.
Each of these jumps sounded like something that I could probably do but I worried they might be over and done with too quickly. If I’m going to spend half a day being driven out there, hiking to the jump platform, and being harnessed up – not to mention forking over considerable cash – then I want it to last more than a few seconds. When I mentioned this to the booking agent she said that ‘Seven Count’ had my name all over it. In this particular jump you are suspended…
Okay, rather than writing another 50 word description of what happens I’ll just let you watch the video. But first a word of caution: Depending on which promotional material you read, this one is as high as a 5 out of 5 on the underpants scale.
I definitely felt that I got my money’s worth. Thankfully I didn’t have to take them up on an offer of fresh Tighty-Whities for an additional 10 bucks.