New Zealand – Part 2. Bungy!

 

by Kieran Deck

The dawn sun rutilant on the lake sparks and sets-off the cicadas again. I wake early, still buzzing with the excitement of being in another country. This feeling is at odds with the pessimism I hold for today’s activity: bungy jumping.

It strikes me that I’m nervous in the car, somewhere around Turangi. My mind does a back-flip when we arrive and look over the edge. The buzz I was able to keep below this morning surfaces in a triumphant bubbling glory. We’re all lost for words and so we repeat syllables.

“Faaar.”

“Shhhhii.”

“Faaaaaar.”

“Phhh.”

“Ahhhdnnobdis.”

“Faaaaaaaaar.”

I look down the 47 metres into mouth of the glistening Waikato River. The famous long white cloud is no-where to be seen and the river is a turquoise paradise below the high cliffs. Steel drums beat smooth sounds out of the sites’ speakers. It’s just relaxing enough to force six of our clan into strapping their hands firmly to the railings. Meanwhile, four of us are strapped into our harnesses.

By some coincidence or cunning ploy – I can’t tell which – I’m first.

My compatriots are supportive nonetheless, reminding me of yesterday’s 4500m jump.

“It’s nothing like it,” the fat mono-toned employee says as he tightens my harness. In my mind’s eye his features disappear behind a black-leather mask and he takes on the complexion of an executioner.

“Don’t say that,” I say.

 

My first mistake was looking down.

My second mistake was looking down, again.

I leave the executioners’ stall and head out to the room of death: the jumping platform. The room of death is suspended 20 metres from the cliff’s edge under a gazebo. Two ladies check and double check my harness (murmuring an unintelligible series of safety-checks which come across more like a mystical chant) and attach the bungy to my legs. At this moment, reality burns into triviality and it’s just me and the decision to let go of the silver handles.

The bungees’ weight tugs slightly yet purposefully on my bound ankles as if to say, “Come-on mate, I’ve got a quota to fill.”

My third mistake was looking down.

“I can’t do it,” I say, and am slightly shocked. “I can’t do it.”

“Come on Keiran, don’t whimp out,” a Kiwi employee says.

“Come on Keiran,” echoes some encouragement from the gallery.

After four long and agonising minutes I pull out. I can’t do it. I stood there measuring the distance between my toes and the water for too long. I can’t do it, I convince myself. But I’m torn. I came this far.

I decide to stay strapped up in the room of death, maybe to give it another go. I tell myself to calm, but it doesn’t work. So I focus on my breathing.

Without realising it at the time, I learn something from each of the other three nutters. The first, TJ, taps the seat next to me to the beat of the music. He puts his whole body into it , bopping away, while the ladies check and recheck his harness. He stands up, waddles over to the ledge and three, two, one… Then his whole body is over the ledge.

Josh is next and he walks through, taps me on the shoulder (“it’s alright mate”), and falls forward – at least it seems that swift.

Chris is suddenly sitting next to me. He’s a little more nervous (as we find out two days later, he has good reason to be). He doesn’t talk but shakes my hand. I offer a feint piece of encouragement and watch as one of the lady’s hands plants itself in the middle of his back. He plunges and screams a deep grunt.

The same lady looks at me.

“So are you going to do it?”

“Yep,” I say.

My hands tap and my body moves to the music while the lady straps me to the bungy again. I stand up, look forward. “Just go,” I say quietly.

Then I let go and scream my bloody lungs out! Yeeehaaa!

Once I’m falling I love every second. The dunk into the Waikato is delicious, though unexpected, and my eyes feel like I’ve just won a handstand competition. The boat crew unstrap me and I lay prone on the rubber ducky’s soft floor.

“Well done mate,” the voice of one of the ladies scratches over the boat’s radio.

I let the buzz bubble buoyantly for the next half an hour. When I reach the top, syllables are again the best any of us can muster.

“Wow wow wow wow wow.”

“Yew.”

“Wahwee.”

“Phewww.”

We calm enough to contemplate the psychology of the fight against reason and the lemming effect over some lunch.

Again?

Well not today at least.

 

Comments

  1. Tony Robb says:

    Well done Kieran
    I was at Vic Falls many years ago and the bloody Kiwis had set up a Bungy on the border bridge. 111m to the Zambese. I could barely walk over the bridge let alone jump off it. I saw a few weeks back that some girl’s rope snapped doing the jump. I knew my fears were justified those 25 years ago.
    Cheers TR

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