The 'A J Hackett' Auckland Harbour Bridge Bungy!
Trip Start Sep 09, 2004
394Trip End Ongoing
Show trip route
'I must not fear, fear is the mind killer.
Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.'
- Frank Herbert
I read this on a brochure advertising the 'NZONE - The Ultimate Jump' in the waiting room of the A J Hackett Bungy building beside the harbour bridge (see pic). It was full of adrenaline-charged people who had just jumped and those like me who were putting on their harnesses in preparation to jump, swallowing every few seconds. I was sitting there all harnessed up with Esther who had come along to take photo's and also do the 'half-climb' in to the 'Pod' where the crazy jumpers meet their fate. Micky had left early that morning but had wished me luck the night before after she had packed.
In total there were about eight of us jumpers who were led up and along the bridge safely secured to a buckle attached to a steel cable that ran the entire length of the bridge, which was necessary really considering we were walking over a thin steel see-through walkway over the waters of the Hauraki Gulf. As we walked higher and higher up to the apex of the bridge, Esther continued to tell me that we were still at the exact same height we were at four seconds ago.
So, we got to the Pod, got unclipped, climbed up a ladder and into a small glass bottomed porta-cabin where you got your feet tied together and shuffled yourself like a penguin right to the edge of a blue platform where there are two little feet shapes painted on the very edge in yellow. There were two people sitting already in the chairs having their feet bound as Es and I watched through the glass at the water below. Very energetic music pumped out of the speakers as we all watched one another in turn dive off the edge of the pod in to the depths below. People were screaming as another fool left the pod and then gasping as they watched through the glass panels to see him bobbing around violently like a crazy yo-yo thing.
So it was my turn to get in 'the seat'. Bloody hell. It was hard enough sitting in the seat anyway which was so close to the edge - people all around me muttering to each other about how high it was. Well I knew that! An A J Hackett guy came over to me bound my ankles tightly together, asking if it was my first jump. I nodded, he said 'You'll be right mate'. I watched as the last jumper was hauled back up by two other AJ staff. Hauled - by hand. He looked bloody petrified. I was just sitting there 'numb' to be honest when a young lad of about six or seven came over, looked right up at me with big, blue, wide eyes and said 'You gonna do the dank?' He seemed really keen to get an answer.
'Sorry the what?', I said
'The dank - you gonna dankert?', he spoke a bit louder,
'Dank what?' I asked,
'Yer hidd - you gonna dank yer hidd?' he was looking at me as if I had no brain. He was referring to my head and was asking me whether I was going to take the option of being 'dunked' like a biscuit in a cup of tea!
Ah so it WAS an option!?
With that thought another AJ guy came over and ran through the basic procedure then asked me if I wanted to 'tatch', meaning a 'hend tatch'. I thought about it briefly and thought to myself why not? A hand touch is nothing like being 'dunked' and really it's all or nothing now - if I'm gonna do this I may as well do it properly. I'd psyched myself up to do this for nearly two days now cos' of that 'Kin texi driver'! I said yes and he went back over to his mate. After a couple of seconds he came back over and started tightening the straps even more on my ankles - my feet felt like watermelons. He then asked whether I would mind if I went any further. Well, all that went through my mind was Nate's story about getting the tension right and I starting wondering if there was some sort of problem, cos let's face it - if there was a problem it was going to be when it was my turn. But I'd come too far now so I said 'No carry on mate whatever, I'd just prefer a hand touch, would PREFER YEAH?'. He looked over his shoulder and shouted down to his mate 'He dasn't mind going furtha!'. He then pulled me out of the chair and walked with me as I 'penguined' over to the two little yellow feet on the edge. I looked straight ahead of me - straight. To be honest at this point I didn't really feel anything or really see or hear much - I was just 'out-there'. I do remember seeing a group of bridge-climbers descending down on to the platform directly opposite looking right at me. They had decided to stop and watch the 'bungy jumpers' as obviously it would give a good insight in to the intensity involved. For a moment I felt like an indignified zoo animal in a cage - not that there was any pressure on me right now or anything! The guy got me to sort of hop/shuffle with two feet at once so that only my heels were on safe ground, my toes and balls of my feet were protruding over the edge of the platform. As I was so close and the whole thing weighed so much I felt myself starting to go but he'd got a tight grip on my harness and as he tugged me back he said 'Don't warry mate, I've got yer right to the end, right until you decide to jamp. Now if you jamp strong, forward and out towards that camera (where the bridge climbers were standing, staring wide-eyed in anticipation) you'll have less chance of going right under, if you just wimp-out and plop off you've got more chance of dankin - got it!??? Right, wave to the camera' - I looked and did something, I'm not sure what 'And Five - Four - Three - Two - One - JAMP!!!!!'
I had momentarily looked down at some point at the edge and it had put the fear of god up me to be quite honest. If I'd have suspected or felt any kind of feeling that there was a last minute 'option' to go or not, I think I would have come back inside. See, the whole problem is the fact that every instinct in your body as a human being, as an animal, is blaring at you to 'Get the hell back of the edge dummy!'. It's the most natural thing in the world - we've not been born to self-destruct, it's nature. So when you throw yourself over a ledge like this, you're basically (in your mind's eye) in a way, comitting suicide - so to override that very strong, natural survival instinct is a bit difficult. But nevertheless as I had seen people hesitate briefly and then get pushed anyway, I knew that there was no such option to backtrack.
I was also not going to be pushed and so 'on' and not 'after' 'JAMP!!!!!', without a single, solitary thought I brought my hands back, bent my knees and jumped up, out and dived, straight in to that beautiful, glistening swimming pool. For a split second I saw/heard/felt absolutely nothing. Then I got the 'ground rush', Whoaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhaaaaggggghhhhh - aaaaaaagh!!!
The pool wasn't there was it? just air! I was free falling like a lunatic and before I knew it (and to add to my luck) I plunged straight in and out of the water 'whiplash style' right up to my waist! Then the yo-yo moment and the bobbing which was kinda weird upside down I have to say. Well what a feeling! I'd done it. I shook my fists a few times and let out the odd scream - I was buzzing, really buzzing. Then came the trauma of the long haul back up to the pod. Under normal circumstances, that would have freaked me out as I can't even walk up a ladder, but not this time. There was far too much adrenaline racing around my veins. I'd bloody done it. I got back in the pod to get a few high fives and hugs and finished watching the other jumpers. I stood there for a few minutes and my legs were shaking uncontrollably - 'That'll be the adrenaline' I heard Es say.
After a slow walk back across the other side of the bridge I got un-harnessed and watched the video that I'd paid for when I arrived. What's also good is that if you take your video to any of the other A J Hackett sites and do a bungy, they just add it on to your last one like a sort of 'bungy series'. I got a certificate too, which said something along the lines of 'Awarded to Scott of UK who has overcome all fears and taken on the ultimate personal challenge by leaping from the Auckland Harbour Bridge 40 metres above the sea suspended by a giant latex rubber band'.
I got my video, collected my certificate and we went on our way as Es had offered to shout me a beer to celebrate. And NO - I didn't get the T-shirt!
I'm saving that for the 'Nevis!'
Where I stayed