Category Archives: New Zealand

Like Andrew W.K., I Get Wet

After leisurely stepping off the tallest man-made structure in the Southern Hemisphere earlier in the day I decided do something else that I would get the adrenaline flowing: bungy jumping.

At this point in my life I had only dreamed of doing such a thing – I hadn’t even been sky diving yet – and I knew that before I left New Zealand that I would have to bungy.

I remembered, from by brief chat with the Sky Jump employee atop the Sky Tower, that the Auckland Harbour Bridge had a bungy platform. After my jump, I went back to my room to drop off a few things and to pick up a map. I gave it a slight glance over and then decided that all I needed to do was follow the road that led to the bridge. I left the map in my room, grabbed my camera and jacket and began my trek.

About 40 minutes later, I arrived at the Auckland Harbour Bridge.

Auckland Harbour Bridge

From that shot you can’t even tell that there’s a bungy platform. It looks like a very normal bridge…that people jump off.

After watching an informational/safety video and being strapped into my harness, it was time to walk out. It was a very easy walk that wasn’t painful at all. Looking down at the blue water was rather relaxing and, in all honesty, the drop didn’t look that daunting from there. 40m didn’t look that bad at all. Didn’t being the operative word.

Bungy Drop

That was until I started watching the other people in my group jump and I stuck my neck over the ledge and saw the water below. Yeah…it was further than I thought.

When it was my turn, I sat in a chair and laughed nervously as they strapped my feet in and checked my weight with that of the corresponding bungy tether. That’s when a strange question was asked.

“Do you wanna get wet mate?” He asked with a pleasant Kiwi accent.

“Uh, wet?”

“Yeah! You wanna touch the water?”

I paused. I thought that this may be the only time I am ever going to be in Auckland so I better go big or go home.

“Yeah! Like, this (pointing to my chest) high.”

He laughs “Yeah! Alright, we’ll get you wet!”

Next thing I know, I’m inching my way to the lip of the platform and the instructor is telling me to keep my arms atop my head like I’m diving because it will make an easier transition into the water. AKA my head won’t slap the water on impact.

Bungy Wave

They began to count down and once they got to two I stopped them, took a deep breath and then told them to start it up again. The countdown continued and once they got to one they yelled “BUNGY!” and I jumped.

My hands were above my head, my eyes transfixed on the water below getting closer and closer, the wind whirred by my ears and then SPLASH! The icy cold glacier-runoff water that was the Auckland Harbour completely surrounded me and then I shot out just as soon as I got in.

Bungy

I didn’t end up going in chest deep. I went in thigh deep.

As I slowed down and dangled above the water, slowly dripping, a man in a jet ski rode underneath me, gave me a thumbs up and said “Awesome jump!”

Awesome jump, indeed.

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Getting High In Auckland

If there’s one thing you need to know about me, if you don’t already, it’s that I like to get high.

Literally, high.

Wherever and whenever possible I seek out the highest point(s) in a city and make it my mission to get to the top. Most of the time I’m successful, except for that one time I tried to go up the SkyTree in Tokyo only to be told that it was too windy but I still made my way to another observation deck elsewhere in the city. Every time though, it’s worth the trip.

Auckland was do different.

Auckland Skyline

The central tower in the city skyline is the Sky Tower. It’s the tallest man-made structure in the Southern Hemisphere standing at 1,076ft (328m) tall. The tower itself is a part of the SKYCITY Casino down closer to the ground. But for those looking for less of a gamble and more adrenaline, look up.

The SkyJump, at 192m, is a thrilling base jump experience unlike anything else. Similar to my Bloukrans bungy experience, I can say that the ride up was probably the worst part. I was put into an elevator and as I looked around I saw a square cut out of the floor and that square was filled with glass or plastic so that as the elevator climbed I could see the ground floor. The once bright white light that shone through became a dim afterthought once I was at the top.

When it was finally my turn to step onto the platform and jump I made the mistake of looking down. Big mistake, huge. I gripped the side railing like it was my lifeline as I inched out to the ledge. As I was being strapped and buckled in I looked down and saw a giant mat with a target printed on it at the bottom. That wasn’t much better…

To take the edge off I began to chat with the instructor. I asked her about local landmarks, the Auckland Harbour and what I should do/see next. She pointed out a few things to me and then she said that it was time to jump.

Sky tower

She then explained to me that as soon as I jumped I would be stopped and I would need to look up and give a thumbs up, because they were going to take another photo of me dangling above the city…charming…but exhilarating.

sky tower 2

Then came the descent.

Falling at speeds upwards of 85kph (52mph), the buildings grew around me and the once distant sounds of the city enveloped me once again as I landed on the mat. The instructor at the bottom unhooked me and said “We have some time before our next group arrives, would you like to go again for free?”

As if I’d say no…

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When In Wanaka

After spending a few months on the island continent Australia I was itching to spread my wings. I had a semester break at the end of September/beginning of October and I knew where I wanted to go: New Zealand.

The scary part was that I was going to be doing this 100% on my own. I wasn’t going to meet anyone there that was part of my university or study abroad group. I was doing this for me. It was a huge step for me to travel and make plans on my own and it gave me confidence for future travel adventures. In my head I already knew that I wanted to go and see some of the Lord of the Rings filming locations, so I made it a mission to do just that. I decided to start my adventure on the South Island or Te Waipounamu in the city of Queenstown and I booked a day tour that would take me around to various locations used in the filming of the Lord of the Rings films.

An odd connection from Brisbane to an overnight in Melbourne to an AM Sydney flight and running through the Sydney airport to catch a flight, then a few hours staring out a Qantas window, a movie about a Scottish cyclist (The Flying Scotsman) and a crappy Robin Williams movie (License To Wed) later … I landed in Queenstown.

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I had arranged to be driven to Wanaka via a shuttle bus. the only problem was that I didn’t know/remember the name of the bus. This was before the smartphone era so I had to boot up my laptop and then try and find WiFi at the airport and STILL, I was stuck. I knew when I was going to be picked up, but I didn’t know by who. When the time came to be picked up I wandered around the shuttles and saw one. I guess I looked lost because the driver immediately asked if I was going to Wanaka and if I was staying at the Minaret Lodge B&B. I was relieved that he named the right place! I handed him the money I owed and off I went.

I stared out the window and took in the beautiful scenery. I hadn’t seen anything like it before. Everything was so green and pristine. Truly beautiful.

The bus snaked up a windy road and when we reached the top, I was surprised to see snowflakes fall lightly on the window. It was nearly October. It was supposed to be transitioning from Spring into Summer. Brisbane was warm-to-hot nearly every day. I also hadn’t seen snow fall since I was about 10 or 11 years old. I nearly forgot what it looked like.

One-by-one, and sometimes more, people were being dropped off at their respective hotels until it was me and two other people left. The sun had gone down long ago leaving only the orange glow of the streetlights to cut through the darkness. The bus pulled up to a driveway covered in tiny pebbles and I was let out. I was greeted by a kind woman, who was also the owner, who showed me to my Hobbit-sized room.

After traveling all that way, I had nearly forgotten that I had booked a room that would make me feel like a hobbit.

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After getting settled the owner asked if I wanted to head into town to get some dinner, since she was heading there. I would have to walk back, but I didn’t mind so I took her up on it and she dropped me off right next to the restaurant she recommended to me: The Cow. Situated right next to the Post Office, The Cow Pizza & Spaghetti House, is truly one of the best pizzas I have ever eaten. It’s a warm and inviting place full of history and great pizza. I sat down, ordered one of the local seasonal beers and of course a pizza.

I don’t recall a time before this where I went out to dinner by myself. It was nice. I was able to take in everything around me. I felt the warmth of the wood fire, I heard the locals talk and I saw people young and old enjoying the ambiance, each other and the food. You can’t beat that.

At the end of my meal I noticed a few t-shirts hanging around and I asked the waitress which one looked better on me. She told me the tan one and it’s still a shirt that I own and wear to this day.

On my way back to my room I took the road parallel to Roys Bay and you know what I heard? Nothing. It was a silent, quiet night and I was able to enjoy the serenity of a nighttime lakeside walk on the aptly named Lakeside Rd as I made my way back to my Hobbit-sized room.

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