You know the town is going to be a bit out of the ordinary when the first thing you see is a gondola going up the mountain and paragliders drifting down from the sky.
We’ve entered a whole new realm where shops hawk things to do rather than things to buy. Parking spaces are hard to find. A lot of adrenaline seekers find their way to Queenstown, the adventure capitol of the world, the home and hub of bungy jumping.
People not only jump off bridges here. You can jump out of a plane, too. A few of the brochures i picked up included: jet boating, white water rafting, zip lining, caving, 4 wheel driving, hiking, skiing, ice or rock climbing, horse back riding. If it’s an outdoor sport that gets your heart pumping fast and your breathing shallow, most likely it can be done here.
I’ve got an adventure in mind, but before we get to that we need a warm up. We rent a pair of mountain bikes and get dropped off on top of a mountain.
Other people plan on taking a more leisurely route through the vineyards. We opt for the trail that heads back into town. We get, “Ooh, you’re going for the more difficult route.” Yeah, we didn’t know that when we signed on. Oh well, we’ve got plenty of water and scroggin.
We do end up walking up a few of those hills, but the mountains are in all their finery. There are shady spots to sit and watch the river flow by. Cows are mooing. Butterfly bushes attract white butterflies. The lake glistens. I wish we could take it all in, unfortunately we’ve got to get the bikes back to the shop before it closes.
So most of the time we spend worrying and pedaling as hard as we can, huffing and puffing all the way.
Another day we sign up for an off road Lord of the Rings tour.
Seems like they filmed all over New Zealand. We saw the spot where Boromair dies in the woods.
We saw where Frodo and Sam spied the Oliphants. We could imagine them peeking through the bushes.
The highlight was the rocky field that served as the Plains of Isengard and the Fangorn Forrest home of the Ents.
So, now back to our grand adventure and the reason we are here in Queenstown. While we were planning our New Zealand trip our favorite Korean variety show, Running Man filmed an episode in NZ. Their “punishment” looked like so much fun that we, ok, I, wanted to try it too. Kevin was eager, well umm, he said he’d do it if I did it.
I recommend you google Running Man episode 379 (Try the Viki website). Skip over the crocodile part. That’s in Australia. You want to see the Nevis Swing, which is featured in the second half.
The inventors of commercialized bungy jumping created the world’s largest swing over a steep gorge. Getting there is half the fear…I mean fun. The bus has to climb a narrow mountain road with no room to pass and plenty of room to fall to the valley floor far below.
At the top we could see the swing’s platform jutting out in midair attached to a narrow suspension bridge hanging precariously out over the gorge. Looking down we could just make out a creek and rocks, lots of rocks.
We were split into bungy jumpers and Nevis swingers. We made sure to get in the right line. We could here the jumpers screaming.
I was excited getting harnessed up and nearly skipped across the bridge. It was a long way down, but I think our stunt on the Skytower helped prepared us for this. I wasn’t nervous when we were told to sit down and dangle our legs over the side of the platform.
“Aaaaaaaaah…..!” The scream came when we were told to look at the camera down by our feet. They pushed the release button right then. We were dropped straight down! But when the drop turned into a long, smooth swing, and we knew we weren’t going to run smack into the cliff on the other side, that scream turned into laughter.
It was so much fun. Kevin’s arms hurt from gripping the straps, so I refrained from swinging back and forth. Our feet felt like they were closer to the ground than they actually were.
The view was great. We had time to watch a bungy jumper dive head first, screaming all the way, as we were hauled back to the platform. Asked by the nervous onlookers how it was, I shouted, “Awesome!” Kevin mumbled, “she really liked it.” He said It with a sly smile. He liked it, too.