Winnies, Fergburgers and bungy jumps
Trip Start May 29, 2010
68Trip End Oct 09, 2010
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We didn't do anything particularly exciting that night other than decide on what we were going to do with the rest of our time in Queenstown. We were so grateful to be stopping in one place for longer than 1 night that just to do nothing in the knowledge that we wouldn't have to get up, pack and move on the following day was bliss!
We woke and after breakfast, booked our bungy jumps for the following day at reception, it had until then been something that Char was uncertain of but this is afterall the home of the bungy jump so what the hell
We walked into town and found that many more shops and businesses were open today (it was Monday) and we found a great art gallery called Art Bay Gallery at Mountaineer featuring some weird and wonderful works, the most popular with Al being all the work on display by an artist called Tony Cribb one of his favourites was called 'Goodbye Blue Monkey'. All the images are very bright and colourful with creatures from either his or members of his young relative's imagination all of which seem to portray a message about life.
Char's favourite piece was a lifesize sculpture called 'Bambi', a deer formed from sculpted sweet, chocolate and biscuit tins. The detail was amazing though it certainly wouldn't fit in our house!! We stopped by for Char to get a new tattoo which is based on a a mauri koru symbol. Sorry Mum, you will like it honest - I'll send you a pic!
We visited a few more art and giftshops before heading back to the hostel where we met a girl caled Tina who had just arrived in the country from Oz, we talked for a while and she gave us plenty of tips on where to go and how to avoid paying tourist rates for trips etc. We decided to go out into town and visit Winnies a popular bar in Queenstown famed for the roof that opens to cool down the drinkers. We arrived just in time for happy hour (unplanned bonus!) at 9pm and had Winnies ale, Winnies is also famous for its pizza and we understod why - it looked amazing, we were a bit gutted that we had already eaten but had seen somehting about free delivery at the hostel so thought we might get the chance to try later in the week.
After a few drinks we made our way back to the hostel, we had an early rise for our bungy and didn't want a hangover adding to the stress! We said goodbye to Tina who was picking up a hire car the following day and wasn't sure where she planned to go next.
Al woke after a restful night, Char on the other hand had no need to wake, she had been awake much of the night stressing about her jump! We made our way to the AJ Hackett shop on Shotover Street where Al was weighed for his jump and we both had blue and red letters written on our hands red for Kawarau Bridge, blue for the Nevis bungy as we were watching one another we both got blue and red writing - Char was hoping they wouldnt get mixed up and throw her off the wrong bungy!
We were directed to some bean bags in front of TV screens showing the various jumps and told to wait there until the bus came to pick us up at 9am. Everyone sat in the area looked very unhappy - we named this fear corner.
We waited for a long time feeling increasingly nervous and finally the bus arrived at 9:15am. It quickly filled up and we were taken first to the Kawarau Bridge site, Char would be jumping first
Char was weighed at the front desk, handed a pass then instructed to make her way up the stairs and onto the bridge. The jumpers were going in order of weight - lightest first. A large group of Japanese girls had arrived just before us so Char was going to be the sixth jumper. It was only 9:45 and cold on the bridge so after watching all five of the girls jump or fall off the bridge some of them clearly not wanting to do it, one of the girls screamed all the way down then cried as she was pulled into the boat on the river and all the way back to her family. Rather than jump out at the top she stepped off which resulted in what looked like a violent flick from feet first to head first position as the bungy cord took hold.
Rather than worsen the nerves, seeing all these girls panic ridden and crying hysterically before being 'helped' off the bridge actually dissolved all nerves and as Char sat on the bridge having her feet tied with the bungy cord the only shaking going on was the onset of hypothermia! The man strapping her feet asked if she wanted to be dunked in the water - "No thanks, I'm cold enough!" The water looked very, very cold!
Up onto the ledge and after a split second of total uncertainty Char was leaping toward a mountain range then plummeting quickly towards the river. What a rush, though she didn't breathe or make a noise the whole way down and was seeing stars as she reached out for the pole being handed to her from the dinghy below
We went into the centre, bought Char's pictures of the jump and got a free t-shirt then made our way out of the building to the main doors to wait for the bus which would take us to Al's jump - the big one - Nevis!
The Nevis Bungy is 134m above the Nevis River, jumpers experience 8.5 seconds of freefall then have to experience the added trauma of being winched all the way back up into the pod.
Al was a dangerous mix of nervous and excited and buzzing off watching Char jump so spent the 10 minutes we waited running at a wall and trying to run up it (presumably to back flip but it wasn't working).
The bus arrived at 11:10 and Al almost ran onto the opening door in his haste to get on, we were told we would be there in 15 minutes and, as we turned off the main road and started to climb into the mountains for the first time in a long time, Al was completely silent. As the valley came into view he looked dinstinctly paler, we were given a safety talk before we exited the bus then we all had to don a safety harness before locking our things away (even spectators). Outside we headed toward a platform that led onto a cable car which would take us across to the structure elevated above the valley where l would be jumping from, the 'bungy pod'
Al had regained his composure and again started to talk excitedly to the other jumpers checking their weight written on the left hand to try and work out the order in which they would be jumping. We all got into the cart which took 6 at a time and were attached by our harness to the metal wire running along the top of the car. We had a Jack Osborne lookalike in the cart with us, he was American and man did he talk a load of rubbis.h He started spurting facts about the largest bungy jump in the world and about the number of jumps and skydives he had done, the other people rolled their eyes at him and, as we arrived at the bungy pod we were glad of the noise and to be free of his waffle induced earache.
As we entered the pod one man was being winched back in and looked shellshocked. Al had his feet strapped which made him look like a fireman, then he made his way to the man who had just jumped who announced that it was the best and worst thing he had ever done at the same time (though his language was more colourful!). This man's friend was strapped up and ready to jump and as he approached the ledge this scrawny looking man started to shake uncontrollably, his legs bucked and he leaned completely back on the bungy supervisor who was trying to stand him up straight. After sitting back down in the chair to compose himself and a quick pep talk from the staff he was back up and this time shook more as he approached the edge. He stepped back after a few seconds and said he needed more time. He was shown out of the jump area and instructed to compose himself as he would only have one more chance.
Al meanwhile was talking excitedly to the staff and most recent jumper so didn't notice at first when his name was called
Grinning from ear to ear Al was congratulated by the staff and when taken through to have his straps removed he was asked how it was, to which he replied "almost as good as mountain biking!" Typical!
We watched as the other jumpers leapt into the valley then shouted encouragement to the reluctant jumper who was being given a third attempt (which is quite rare!) but it was obvious that his bottle had gone
We were bundled back into the cable car when there were six of us ready to go and taken back across the valley and onto terra firma. Al was still buzzing from his jump and ran through to look at hs pictures, stopping on the way to have his harness removed. He received a free t-shirt and bought the photo pack as evidence. As we had both jumped we were eligible to do the Nevis Arc (a huge bungy swing acrioss a the opposite valley) for a reduced price, we went to look at it for a while and deciede to leave our thrills there for today - it wouldn't beat the buzz of a first jump!
We later saw a quote and felt it was very apt though I'm sure our parents will argue that stupidity made us jump!
"Courage is not a lack of fear, but acting in spite of it" - Mark Twain
We talked for a while to a couple who we had met on the bungy cable car, the man had jumped after Al, his girlfriend cried as she watched him as she was so scared! They had been travelling for the same time as us and had gone from East Coast to West Coast US then spent a week in Fiji before flying into the South Island. They were headed to the North Island next so we recommended a few places and swapped experiences
Back on the bus we had a 40 minute ride back into Queenstown where we nipped back into the AJ Hackett shop mainly to look at the poor buggers in fear corner but also to buy an AJ Hackett momento. We bought a badge for Char's growing collection pinned to her bag then, realising we were starving decided to sample Fergburger. Cakie Ward with her impeccable taste had recommended a visit to Ferg's (she also recommended Winnies), we hadn't been let down so far and ths was no exception. We ordered fairly standard burgers and they were amazing we were glad we didn't order anything else as the burgers are massive! Ferg's is a must when in Queenstown!
After a few more drinks at the art gallery cafe we had visited the day before we made our way back to the hostel and after packing a large box that we would be sending home the following day we ate and retreated to our room and watched Human Traffic. Top film and why haven't we realised until now that Aidy no show really looks like John Simm?
We spent our last day catching up with boring admin and paying a huge amount to send 13kg of camping and cycling kit home - then decided that you can't put a price on not having back pain!
We walked the route up to the sky gondola rather than paying for a ride, which took us about an hour and watched the riders on the luge track at the top. We hoped that we would be able to see some jumpers at the ledge bungy at the top of the mountain but we were unlucky it was very quiet - apparently the site is more popular at night
We walked back down the track witnessing two helicopter landings, dropping passengers off on the way and once in Queenstown made our way back to the hostel. We had planned to go for a few drinks to celebrate our last night but after the expense of the day we gave it a miss and spent our last night watching Boyz in tha Hood! Rock and Roll!
Queenstown is a great place with so much to do we were glad we had experienced some of it and hope we will be able to come back in one Summer and enjoy some of the many mountainbike tracks scattered around the place.
WARNING!! Watch Al's jump with no sound if you are in work, easily offended or have young ears listening in as Char had a fear induced case of potty mouth watching Al jump then realised she was filming - Sorry!!