“Let go of the bridge, love, you’re not taking it with you.”
I was clutching a small handle for dear life as I looked down a 130-foot drop from the bungy platform on the Kawarau bridge to the river down below. This is the site of the first ever commercial bungee jump. The activity was inspired by a Maori ritual where young men would leap off tall, man-made towers with vines around their ankles. Obviously, the modern version of the jump is much safer.
My ankles and waist were strapped in, but I felt unrestrained, and it made me incredibly nervous.
I had already been on the verge of a nervous breakdown, sitting down almost immediately after the first time I stood up. Tears pricked the side of my eye and all the color had drained from my face, but I had made it this far and I was determined to make the leap.
The attendant pointed at a camera to the side of the bridge and told me to smile. I did. Then I looked down.
I clutched the bridge.
I had no reason to be afraid. I’ve been skydiving before, and I’m not really afraid of heights. Several jumps had been safely completed that day since we arrived, and I watched them safely bounce up and down before being lowered into a boat waiting below.
Still, looking at the river below, it was hard to believe I was about to jump down to it.
The attendant coaxed me to let go of the bridge, look forward and breathe. My heart rate slowed and my eyes were able to focus again for a brief moment. If I was going to jump, this was the time.
Three, two, one, jump!
I made the biggest leap I could, and a blood-curdling scream erupted through the canyon.
After the first bounce, I was laughing. Partly at the experience, and partly at myself.
As I was lowered into the boat below, the attendants waiting for me asked if it was my first bungee. I laughed harder. How ever could they tell from all the way down there?
Safely on the ground, I watched as Chris made his jump. He waltzed right to the edge of the platform and leaped off, no sweat. After the first bounce, he gave a celebratory fist-pump.
After all the build-up, it was over just like that. I joked that we could finally relax and enjoy the honeymoon now that we go that out of the way.
Chris hugged me and told me he was proud of me. He said he saw the terror in my eyes, but he also saw the moment that I overcame it.
All told, I would do it again, and I would recommend anyone who thinks they may want to try bungee to give it a go.
After we returned to Queenstown, we headed over to the famous Fergburger for burgers the size of our heads (and a much-needed beer). After lunch, we took a 40-minute bus ride to a horse stable for a trek through the mountains.
I grew up riding horses, and Chris has never been on one. We told the other people we were riding with that we had gone bungee jumping that morning, and I said horseback riding was my opportunity to look cool while Chris embarrassed himself. Chris, however, did not embarrass himself, and we both had a wonderful time looking up at various mountain ranges. I don’t remember what exactly they were called, but I know they were used for part of the Misty Mountains in the Lord of the Rings movies.
And with that, we are about one-third of the way through our honeymoon. We fly tomorrow morning for Sydney, Australia to begin the next portion.
–By Natalie Covate
Just-married Natalie Covate, editor of MLTnews, is writing about her honeymoon adventures.