Kawarau River, Otago, New Zealand
Kawarau, New Zealand: Birthplace of BungyMy feet are tied together with the bungy cord so I have to bunny hop to the edge of the platform sticking out from the bridge. The river is 150 feet below, equivalent to a 15-story building. The staff at Kawarau Bridge Bungy Jump (the world's first) near Queenstown, New Zealand are not allowed to push you off the ledge, but I can feel the guy’s hand firm on my back suggesting there’s only one way off this bridge.
“Whenever you’re ready, mate,” he says.
Before you jump, you’re sitting inside a little metal cage while two staff members hook you up to a series of bungy cords. You can’t see down. They work quickly and talk a lot to keep you distracted from changing your mind. Aerosmith is blasting from the speakers.
“What do you do?” asks one of the guys.
“Travel writer,” I say.
He yells at his colleague, “Hey, take care of this one.”
Other guy: “Why, is he a lawyer?”
When you reach the end of the ledge and look down for the first time, you quickly grasp the reality of the situation. You also remember thinking this seemed like a great idea back on the bus.
A twinge of panic grips my belly, my brain shuts down and I swan dive into the chasm.
Once airborne, you enter a state of suspended disbelief while your heart jack hammers through your toes. Then your head crashes into the water followed by the hand of God yanking you up backwards 80 feet in two seconds.
About 400,000 people visit here yearly; 10% jump. I'm glad I did this but I'm not in a hurry to return.