So, despite the fact that I was too scared to jump off a 43 metre bridge, I’m now going to jump off a 68 metre cliff.
The Shotover Canyon Swing is the highest swing of its type, and offers multiple jump styles in range of scariness. When I check in at the office at 10:30, I’m told to think about which one I want. The Cutaway (suspended over the canyon and released by a third person) seems like a good option since it’s the easiest, but I kind of want to be ambitious.
Once we’ve all been checked in, we get driven out of town and out to the canyon while a video showing different jump styles plays for us. The canyon is about 20 minutes away, close to where the Shotover Jet leaves. You have a small walk down a gravel path, and then come across the office – the jump side in view of the balcony.
After our final safety briefing, we’re taken down and fitted into our harnesses, and the first tandem couple go first. As a duo, their options are limited, and they choose The Cutaway. The guys mess with them a little, and then, WHAM, down they go.
I’m up next, and somehow I’m talked into doing a Forward jump (where you jump off yourself forward facing) – supposedly the second easiest. However, I get on that stand, look down, and all of my vertigo paranoia kicks in. I’m all but frozen – I even ask them to change the jump, but they talk me into following through.
I’ve got to say this for the Shotover crew – they will mess with the jumpers, but only when it’s clear they can take it. I was a panicked rabbit on that ledge but they were utter professionals, coaxing me to the ledge and assuring me I was safe despite my ridiculous questions.
Even so, taking that step off the ledge was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, full stop. The guys even had their hands on my back to push me if I chickened out last minute, but somehow I got my legs to move, and next thing I know, I’m falling through the air.
The first few seconds of free fall are a complete blur, but when my brain registered the support and the fact that I was no longer falling, the shock turned to exhilaration. There were kayaks in the river below, and I gave them a giddy wave as I swung.
When they pulled me back up, I was still slightly shaking and panting as if I’d ran a marathon. I even ended up hugging one of the guys before he could get me out of the harness, and once I was in the safe area, collapsed because my feet couldn’t support me.
A few minutes later though, I’m back on my feet and looking through the book of jumping styles again. It costs $225 to jump (with a stray discount), but only an additional $45 to jump again. And thanks to the weather, I do have some extra cash.
I decided to go again, and as an added bonus, decide to do one of the most terrifying jumps they offer, the ‘Gimp Goes to Hollywood,’ in which you’re suspended upside down before being released.
Personally, I can say this was a lot less scary than going forwards. For one thing, having a third person hit the button is a lot less nerve wracking than taking the step yourself. Plus, your brain takes a little more time to process what’s happening, so I had a chance to just enjoy the freefall rather than freak out about it.
This was an awesome way to spend the morning. It was utterly terrifying, but the rush it gave me can’t be beat. Kind of wish I could do it again, but at least now I know I could handle a bungy.
Once everyone has grabbed photos and videos, we’re driven back – this time with a highlights video playing – including dress up, proposals and fake fighting jumps, as well as awkward dives and crazy antics by the staff.
The rest of the day I spent walking around the lake (really wish I had time to explore this area more) and trying to reduce my baggage so I can fit on the Tracknet bus tomorrow (who won’t tolerate my food bag). In the evening, I decide I’ll treat myself to a burger – but since I’m not willing to wait an hour in the Fergburger line, I’ll try somewhere Lolly had said was just as good. Devilburger.
It’s only a few minutes away from the main street, and very noticeable given its advertising. After glancing at the menu, I decide I’ll have a She-Devil Burger with pineapple, as it’s the only one that comes with beetroot, and a portion of chips.
Gotta say, this was the best burger I’ve had in New Zealand by a mile. Plenty of toppings and flavours, but none overpowered the meat. The chips were so, so, but I will happily eat that burger again, it was awesome. Less awesome was its $14 price tag, but better value than the burger at Abel Tasman.