Winter in the southern hemisphere is
coming to an end
its all really quite sad. Yes, were excited about getting to
South America truth be told, I cant wait! But the other side is that
we will miss NZ, along with all the great people.
Saturday, August 18th: It was a rainy morning, but I was up early and
excited my new 96 F650 motorbike finally arrived from the North Island! Erin
and I unpacked it, and we were pleasantly surprised. We bought the bike sight unseen, and
it came to us as promised in good condition. It cost me NZ$190 (US$80) to have the
bike brought down from Levin on the North Island, some 1,000 kms away -- I couldn't have
brought it down cheaper if I went up and got it myself!
Spoke with Don back in Seattle -- my R100PD arrived safely, and he promises to
take good care of her until my return. He said the bike seems in better shape than
he expected, and feels like it has more power than his PD -- go figure!?!
There was a break in the weather on Sunday morning, so we took the bikes for a nice
ride out to Glenorchy. It was nice to go out for a ride, and Erin and I switched bikes a
few times riding out. Its so much better having 2 bikes we can
trade and either of us could ride,
Monday, August 20th: Today represented 2 years and 3 months since we began
our journey a milestone worthy of something special. It was time for our bungy
jump. Erin has always wanted to do a bungy and she always wanted to do it in NZ,
where the sport was born. It didnt hurt that NZ used to be such a far-away concept,
and the threat of the act was therefore far away.
There are two companies that offer the adrenaline pumping experience:
- AJ Hackett is the more famous, with 3 different facilities: 42 meter Kawarau Bridge
a popular spot for tourists to stop for photos (weve been there a few times);
47 meter Ledge (jumping off a platform next to the gondola station, overlooking town); and
the new 134 meter Nevis highwire, which is a suspension pod strung across a gorge. AJ
introduced the world to bungy jumping in the early 1980s when he bungyed off the
Eiffel tower in Paris.
- Pipeline Bungy is the other company, a family
operated business. The bridge is 102 meters up from the river, and located in historic
Skipper's Canyon. They run off-road safaris, jet-boating, and of course, the bungy
bridge. Next year they are going to start operating a bungy from a hot-air balloon, to
offer the highest bungy in the world some 250 meters above the river!
We went back and forth, trying to decide. Erin wanted to jump off a bridge, leaning
towards the "small" Kawara bridge, and I was leaning towards the Nevis
the highest in the world. In the end the decision was easy; we had been to Skippers
on a few occasions (Chap 51) and preferred the people and
scenery at Pipeline -- we made our reservation with them.
Eight of us piled into the Land Rover, and headed into the mountains. The dirt track we
rode the bikes through a few months ago was now a giant mud pool. The track runs along the
edge of the gorge, about 100 meters up from the river. The 4-wheel drive ride was scary
enough to keep your mind off the upcoming leap.
The sky was clear, and the day was cool without being too cold. The second Rover pulled
up, and we gathered around to be weighed in. The guys working the jump were relaxed and
very friendly. Because they dont have huge groups of people coming through, the
staff makes it a point to know everyones name, and help you feel calm and relaxed.
Erin jumped before me, and she looked quite confident while standing on the edge of the
platform. She later told me she was shaking like a leaf. When she jumped off, you could
hear the scream all the way down, and throughout the many rebounds.
I felt completely relaxed through the whole thing, sitting in the chair
getting strapped in. I was talking to Al and Graham, just enjoying the day. I was
surprised I wasnt frightened, and guessed it was because Ive been to a few
bungy bridges, and seen a couple of dozen people jump. Getting from the old barber chair
out to the platform was a little tricky, as your ankles are bound together. I got out on
the platform, and was surprised I wasnt panicking. The cord was lowered down between
my legs, and I peered over the edge no problem. When most of the cord was lowered,
Al let go of the cord, and I felt a pang as the weight of the cord was pulling down on my
ankles. Suddenly, I was scared.
I tried to find my calm, but it seemed to have run back to the safety of the house. I
turned to the guys and said, "hang on, Im scared". They smiled (having
heard this a few million times), and replied, "youll be right, mate". I
took several deep breaths, and listened as they counted down 5
GO! I jumped out as far as I could go (with my feet bound), and
.. I dont know I completely blanked out. Next thing I felt a yank on my
ankles, as the bungy caught. I was back, and rapidly approaching the river. The rocks were
getting close, but I could feel the force on my ankles, rapidly decelerating my decent. My
downward motion eventually stopped, and I felt my body being pulled back up in a recoil.
"Yaaaaaahoooooooooooo"! What a fantastic feeling. I bounced up and down a few
more times, and eventually was lowered to a waiting jet-boat.
Definitely a worthwhile experience and cant recommend the team at Pipeline
enough. The 45-minute ride back to town was quieter, as everyone was lost in their own
world of reflection.
Friday, August 24th: It was time for our farewell party a potluck,
Party dress was optional. About half of the 25 who showed up were
dressed in costumes. They also showed up with a variety of chilies, tacos, quesadillas,
dips, chips, casseroles, sushi, and deserts. The bottle of Tequilla didnt last long,
but there was a huge supply of beer and wine to keep us going until 3:30am. A lot can be
said about the party, but it will be shorter to just say we will miss everyone, and look
forward to seeing each of them again.
Chris, Stu, Sharlene, Erin, and Andrew
Saturday, August 25th: We were up at 7:30am, only 4 short
hours after we went to bed. We tried to pack during the afternoon, but friends who couldnt make the party
came by to say farewell. At 6pm, we headed down to the Queenstown Lodge to secure good
seating for the upcoming rugby match. We pulled together some sofas, ordered a bunch of
pizzas, and got a few pitchers of beer. There was about 16 of us, everyone was a little
fragile from the night before. NZ was playing South Africa in the continuing Tri-Nations
series, and we needed a big win. A few changes were made from the game we saw in Dunedin,
and a different team showed up. It was a great game, and the All Blacks won 26-15. After the match, we
again had the task of saying farewell to some terrific people more folks to add to
our growing list of eternal friends.
Its now Sunday night, and were pretty exhausted. We spent the last few days
pulling out our gear, and making piles -- Its amazing how much junk weve
accumulated! The tricky part is what well take from here. My bike
doesnt have any panniers yet well pick them up in Christchurch (500kms
away) later this week. This seriously limits our carrying capacity from Queenstown. We
have to send a box of stuff up to Auckland, which well pick up in a couple of weeks.
It will be sad to leave in the morning.