The Skyjump!

Trip Start Sep 09, 2004
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Thursday, October 28, 2004

Well, today was the day of the 'Skyjump', oh and Micky's back in town! She had drove up from Wellington on Tuesday to re-locate a car to Auckland (a very popular and cheap way to travel). She's going to stay a few days in Auckland before heading back up to Paihia.

As she had got a few hours before having to return the car, we went for a drive out of town yesterday to make use of the free transport. We ended up at a very pleasant place called 'Western Springs', not far from Ponsonby and just decided to stop there on the spur of the moment. It was a very pleasant, peaceful park area which walks you along a twisting pathway round the perimeter of the large lake which sits in the middle.

We were accompanied by an abundance of ducks, geese and other birds who were too, walking along the pathways and surrounding grassland with their young. It was a peaceful, relaxing walk and a great opportunity to catch up.

We then drove over to 'Point Chevalier' which offered views of the harbour bridge and Skytower in the distance. Before returning the car, we stopped off in Ponsonby and had lunch outside at a small Italian cafe, the name of which I can't remember but the food was nice. As always, it was good to catch up and share a few stories.

Anyway, back to the main story. I had spent some of this afternoon in another town nearby called 'Newmarket' (a short bus ride away) and had got back to Auckland at around 4pm. I went to the internet cafe to meet with Micky who enquired as to whether I had 'jumped' yet. I told her of my day and then asked her if she wanted to come along to view the jump, like now, as I hadn't yet! She got her things together and we made our way up to the Skytower. Micky had agreed to keep my camera with her and take some pics, but hadn't realised that she had to go up to the viewing area to take the pics (Micky has a very 'unhealthy' fear of heights). Reluctantly, she gave in and kindly agreed but made clear that there would be a forfeit - which I was to find out about later.

We were met at the bottom by Clare and Caroline who were also going to take some pics from the bottom. Like Young Neil, they too have been here since day one had got settled in a flat and found suitable employment.

So up the tower we went. I got 'suited up' and Micky headed off down the corridor a different way as she had to use a seperate elevator to access the viewing area. I took the long lift up to the top alone, past the viewing area to a level some ten metres or so extra to an outdoor glass pod, where two Skyjump staff were waiting for me - next to the 'ledge'. It was the same stunning view I had seen weeks before only this time the wind was howling quite strongly and there was no safety barrier, just a thin steel walkway with a handrail up to the ledge and then......nothing! That's when the adrenaline started.

I walked in to the glass pod and met the staff who were very friendly as always. 'Honi' started checking my harnesses quite seriously, tightening the odd strap here and there while asking where I was from and how long I was going to be here. After explaining the jump procedure to me the other staff member (a young lady who's name escapes me) kindly walked me over to the walkway where I stepped up and slowly 'walked the plank', penguin style. Again. As I approached the edge I saw the magnificent view of Rangitoto, and the cars, streets, buildings and traffic directly below didn't look so funny and tiny like they did before. I was starting to get a dry mouth again.

The young lady started clipping more attachments to my harness one by one, shouting words of confirmation back to Honi as she did. Then she detached, and threw away the final safety line shouting 'Safety line off!' back to Honi as it clanged on the floor. Again, all of this is quite blurry as I was quite numb-minded by this point. She got me to hold on to two handles that were right at the end of the walkway and stand with my feet together just over the edge (like the bungy). I was just stood there holding on to these two handles looking over the edge at the microscopic traffic, while she was carrying out a few final checks. I was scared shitless to be quite honest. Not the sort of scared like the bungy where I may have backed out - my mind was numb and I was jumping and nothing was going to change that. It was more the sheer height of where I was standing and the Vertigo and emotion I felt when I looked down directly over the edge. This wasn't 40 metres, this was 192 metres (630 ft). There was a huge difference and I wasn't looking down at the cushioning comfort of the deep blue sea this time either!

Honi started to tension the cable which pulled me up slightly on to my tip-toes making me lose my footing - bloody hell I didn't need that!! He then spoke in to his radio to the girl on the landing pad at the bottom 'Ok, Scott's coming over now, over...'. Then I heard the familiar 'Three...Two...One.......' and I just let go.....fell, and waited for the ground rush..........
...........Whoaaaah.........YANK!
......They had brought me to a complete halt just as the ground rush started. I was in mid-shock wondering what the hell happened when I looked up and there were loads of tourists in the viewing lounge pointing and taking pictures, including Micky, though I didn't see her. Then I heard 'Scott, look up, look up!'. I looked up as best I could and the young lady looking over the ledge took a picture. Then it was whooosh! Honi dropped me. I looked down to see the city and the traffic getting bigger and bigger along with the 'X' on the landing pad. I landed on bended knees as I was told then stood up with a huge grin on my face - I had done it! And it was quite an experience!

I have to say though, the ground rush was nothing at all like the rush that I got when doing the bungy. As you descend from the Skyjump, there is wind resistance from within the fan descenders that doesn't allow you to naturally 'free-fall', so you don't get your stomach in your mouth, you just get one hell of a view with most of the adrenaline coming from actively stepping off that damn ledge in order to plummet towards the City below. It's still a great experience though and I would recommend it.

I got unclipped at the bottom and the young girl suggested that if I wanted to, I could go back up and have a second jump for free. This time it would be a straight drop - no stopping en-route at the viewing lounge. So I did. After returning to the top and sharing the excitement with Honi and his mate, he explained that if I wanted to do something different this time I could jump off backwards. So I did. This time, I stood holding the handles with my heels to the edge looking directly at Honi while he counted me down - Three...Two...One.......' I let go again and just fell backwards, straight to the bottom.

The whole thing was a good buzz and I'm glad I did it. The photos came out quite well which was lucky, so it was well worth it.

Another great experience. Then came the forfeit.

We were on the way back when Micky announced 'Right then! your coming with me!' She made me cross the road and do the one thing that bores me completely senseless, sometimes even to tears - shopping. Not ordinary shopping, 'clothes' shopping. The shop was called 'Farmers'. We were there for a good couple of hours (I'm sure Micky will agree) and by the end I was almost climbing the walls. I can't complain however, as Mick did do me proud with the pics, though I think next time I should select a different altitude photographer to accompany me!
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