We love adventures.
We have done rock climbing, zip-lining, diving, swimming in a cage with sharks, white water rafting, skydiving and extreme roller coasters.
You name it, and either we have done it, or it is on our bucket list.
Bungee jumping had been on our list for a long time.
But in the end, it proved much harder than it seemed in photos and videos.
Bungee jumping took our adventures to another level, and we learnt a few life lessons.
While we were on our last road trip in New Zealand, we knew this was the best place to try it.
New Zealand is the birthplace of bungee jumping, which has been popularised here.
The country is also renowned for innovation, excellent facilities, many years of experience and, most importantly, an excellent safety record.
Queenstown is called the ‘Adventure Capital of the World’, so we felt that we should do our first jump there.
This post has been written from Kat’s point of view because this has been a rather personal and intense experience.
Petr’s self-preservation instinct is quite relaxed compared with most people, so his experience made for another story. You can read it here.
Bungy Or Bungee?
Both words have the same meaning.
Bungy is the spelling used mainly in New Zealand, while bungee is more common in the rest of the world.
SkyJump Las Vegas
The list of adventures I have been through is long, and I’m proud of that.
There is only one exception, SkyJump Las Vegas, the world’s highest controlled descent.
The launching pad is located on the 108th floor of the Strat Hotel, Casino and SkyPod (formerly Stratosphere Casino, Hotel & Tower), 260 metres (855 feet) above the Las Vegas Strip.
While in Las Vegas, we decided to do the night jump. What could go wrong, right?
I was confident because we had just done our first skydiving in Cuba a few months before, and I loved it.
We had jumped out of an old aeroplane 3 km (1.9 miles) above the ground, so it couldn’t be worse, right?
I was wrong. It was.
I was fine until I got to the jumping platform, where everything changed.
When I started to feel the wind on my face, I realised what height I was at.
I was supposed to jump into the dark but could not do it. My confidence was gone.
I chickened out.
What was so different between skydiving and this jump?
I was on my own. There was no experienced instructor I could hang on to.
I took the challenge too lightly.
On the other hand, Petr managed to jump. The fee we had paid was non-refundable, so he jumped twice not to waste the cost of my ticket. How cool is that?!
Kawarau Bridge Bungy, Queenstown
When we arrived at Queenstown in New Zealand, I knew that if I didn’t do it here, I would probably never do it.
But after I failed in Las Vegas, I was afraid I would give up again.
At first, we visited the Kawarau Bridge Bungy to see what it was like.
It’s the world’s first commercial bungee, with a height of 43 metres (141 feet).
The location was beautiful – a wooden bridge in the Kawarau gorge overlooking the river with its turquoise water.
But the scenery was the last thing on my mind!
People were queuing for the jump. There were many of them – men, women, young, middle-aged…
They all seemed to be just ‘normal’ people, no adrenaline junkies.
I thought that I could do it too if they could do it.
I had done so many potentially dangerous activities before and didn’t want to look like a coward now.
The faces of people who were just about to jump said it all.
They were afraid, really afraid.
I realised that everyone felt fear (except for those adrenaline junkies).
And that’s what it was all about – overcoming the fear and doing it despite it.
So, we decided to jump the following day.
Unfortunately, we mentioned this to the Airbnb host we stayed with that night.
Instead of a few words of encouragement that we needed, she said that bungee jumping was the worst experience of her life.
After standing on the jumping platform for ages, she only jumped (with closed eyes) because her friend threatened to push her.
It didn’t help at all. It wasn’t something I needed to hear.
As you can imagine, I didn’t get much sleep that night.
I went from “Yes, I can do it, I have done worse things.” to “What is the point of doing it if I won’t enjoy it? Let’s leave it till another time. ”
In the morning, I still didn’t know if I was going to do it or not.
We arrived at the Kawarau Bridge and watched people jumping for a while.
Petr asked if I was in so that he could buy the tickets.
I still didn’t know what to do. I hated to admit that I was so scared.
We agreed that Petr would jump first, and then I would decide if I wanted to do it or not then. He managed a beautiful dive; it looked so easy. He told me it wasn’t too bad and I should do it too.
I still didn’t know what to do.
Then, we saw a couple preparing for a tandem jump (the girl was so scared that she didn’t do it in the end).
I thought it would be easier to jump together with Petr because I could hold him.
If anything went wrong, he would know what to do (he always does!).
I knew if I didn’t do it here and now, I would never do it because I would find another excuse.
A tandem jump was available, and we bought the tickets.
We got weighted, signed a waiver and put on our harnesses.
We were told which way to jump and hold each other for a smooth experience.
The preparations took longer because they had to calculate the correct length of the ropes for two people jumping together, which wasn’t that common.
Each of us was tied to a separate rope, and we held each other behind our backs.
Petr got ready first because he was taller.
Then, it was my turn.
The staff were excellent; they made fun and talked to us all the time to make us feel more relaxed.
I had a smile on my face, but when I got to the jumping platform, I felt paralysed by fear.
I could barely move.
But I didn’t question the safety of the ropes.
It was the feeling of having to jump into space from such a height.
I was trying not to look down and was looking at the surroundings.
I was forcing myself to think about something else, but it was hard.
And there we were – standing on the jumping platform, tied to each other, smiling for the cameras but freaking out inside (at least I was!).
It felt like being in a movie – and then the guy said: “You are ready to go – three, two, one, JUMP!”
And we jumped.
I let go and DID IT.
I managed to jump at the exact second as Petr.
It was a special moment that we shared.
It was just a split second until gravity grabbed us, and we started falling.
Then I didn’t remember anything until we reached the water.
I don’t know if I passed out or if it just happened so quickly that my brain couldn’t process it.
But I was probably fully conscious because Petr told me later that I was screaming the ‘F’ word all the way down!
We were thrown up and down like two puppets when we got down to the river, and the ropes stretched.
The fear was gone, and we were laughing and enjoying the moment.
After we stopped moving, a boat came underneath us and picked us up.
I was shaking but so happy that I had made it.
But deep inside, I knew I needed to do it alone.
I was a step closer to that now.
Petr hadn’t had enough and wanted to conquer the nearby Nevis Bungy too, because we were leaving Queenstown the following day.
It’s New Zealand’s highest bungee (134 metres, 440 feet). People jump from a cable car cabin hanging between two mountains.
I wasn’t ready to do that because I was still processing our tandem jump. Just standing in the unsteady cabin was scary.
Fair play to Petr that he managed to jump as effortlessly as only he can.
Auckland Bridge Bungy
Two weeks later, we arrived in Auckland.
I knew it was my last chance to jump on my own because we were leaving New Zealand soon.
The Auckland Bridge Bungy was perfect because the jump was above the sea, so I convinced myself that nothing could happen.
If anything went wrong, I would end up in the water, right?
We booked our tickets online and got picked up by the minibus.
We put all the gear on, got a quick safety briefing and off we went.
We had to walk to the middle of the Auckland Bridge to get to the jump pod.
At the moment, the bridge is not accessible to pedestrians.
The only way to get stunning views of Auckland’s skyline is the Bridge Bungy or Walk.
The walk to the pod felt never-ending.
I was trying to distract myself by looking around and thinking about anything else but the jump.
Petr was the most experienced jumper in the group, so he went first.
He decided to jump backwards – how crazy is that?!
He requested the ropes to be adjusted to get as deep into the water as possible.
He dived up to his knees.
When he came back up, he was laughing as if it was all just a piece of cake.
Two more people were jumping after him.
I could see that they were scared, but they made it.
Then, it was my turn.
Again, the staff were terrific.
They were making jokes, but nothing could help me at that stage.
I was trying to keep calm, but I was so frightened that I could barely move.
I felt like a robot, just doing whatever I was told.
But I had decided to do it no matter what, so I kept going.
The guys got my rope and gear set so I could touch the water as I requested.
They helped me to get to the jumping platform.
That was it.
Now or never.
I was standing on the platform, trying not to think about what I would do and admiring the bridge’s impressive construction to distract my mind.
I was freaking out.
A few smiles for the camera, and then they said: “Three, two, one, JUMP!”
And I JUMPED!
I just leaned forward, and gravity did the work for me.
The horror of the last few seconds before the jump suddenly changed into pure joy when I started falling.
I was enjoying the moment and smiling until I hit the water.
It didn’t hurt at all, and I got into it smoothly.
I dived up to my waist, which I didn’t expect.
I had my mouth open and tasted the salty water.
In the end, this was the best part of the experience.
I couldn’t believe that it was over and I MADE IT! I came back up shaking but happy.
This time I enjoyed the views on the way back to the mainland.
Bunge jumping was the hardest thing I have ever done (so far).
I had never felt so much fear before.
But at that moment, when I was jumping on my own, I realised one crucial thing that has profoundly affected my life.
I realised that I could really do ANYTHING I wanted.
It might be scary, hard or seem impossible.
But if I really want it, I can find the way by taking small steps forward.
And if I can do it, you can do it too (whatever it is).
PS: When we return to Las Vegas one day, I will jump off the Stratosphere Tower…. I know I can do it now…
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