Bungee jumping in New Zealand: probably not a lot of world travelers have this on top of their bucket lists, since most of us don’t have death wishes, but it’s been on my younger daughter’s bucket list ever since she learned about it. This is the kid who also is trying to convince me to allow her to go cage diving with sharks, but that’s a different “why me” parenting tale. We spent around two weeks in New Zealand for Christmas, and I ran out of excuses. I signed up my daughter and myself for a tandem bungee jump at the Kawarau Bridge…because my spouse and older teenager were emphatically against the idea for themselves. They’d have to watch as we plunge to our potential death instead, which I suppose is better. For two members of my family, anyway.
The Kawarau Gorge Suspension Bridge is a fantastic place for bungee jumping in New Zealand! It’s the world’s first ongoing commercial bungee jump set-up, so the Kawarau Bridge Bungy has had years to perfect the not-killing of travelers, tourists, and presumably happy-go-lucky locals. We signed up before we flew to New Zealand, making one reservation for a mother-daughter tandem jump. Once there, and while on line to check in, I heard plenty of accents ranging from local Kiwi to American and the UK’s dialects. Ahead of us on line, some formidable Viking-looking types speaking a Scandinavian language looked at the Kawarau Gorge, muttered frantically, and hightailed it out of there. Great. We’ll jump that much sooner. Thanks, Vikings.
So, now we know my younger kid is not risk-adverse. But is she also…contagious? Apparently so, because my very cautious older daughter looked at her and declared that she, too, wanted to bungee jump! Trust me, no one was as surprised as she was. “I…want?..to bungee jump too,” she said to her shocked parents.
This is when we learned a great thing about the AJ Hackett, the Kawarau Bridge Bungy company: despite that we had reservations only for one tandem jump there, and there was a line to check in, we were able to easily switch the reservation to one tandem jump, and two single jumps. Now instead of jumping in tandem with my adventurous younger daughter, I would do a solo leap-to-possible-death, and my cautious older kid would tandem jump with sister. The fourth solo jumper? My poor beleaguered spouse, who really, really didn’t want to (my older kid takes after him), but knew he’d never hear the end of it if he was the only one of us to not to bungee jump!
As you check out these photos of us bungee jumping at the Kawarau Bridge Bungy, realize that we were never in any actual danger. The Kawarau Gorge Suspension Bridge is around 140, 150 feet above the water, and the crew is exceptionally cautious about checking bungee jumpers’ weights and the timing; one person or a tandem must be totally clear, off the yellow “catching” raft and on solid ground before the next brave soul gets ready. This gives us plenty of time to contemplate our lives and wonder exactly what brought us here.
It also gave my older daughter enough time to change her mind, which she sort of did — but at the very last second, too late!
Obviously we all survived bungee jumping in New Zealand, and that gorgeous day was not our last day on Earth. In fact, the safety features at AJ Hackett’s Kawarau Bridge Bungy in Queenstown, New Zealand, are taken so seriously that any worry a bungee jump tourist may have should be satisfied…except of course for that warning in the back of our heads. You know, that lizard brain, “fight or flight” instinctual part? My older daughter and my husband’s survival instinct is clearly intact. I wonder what happened to mine and my little adrenaline junky’s sense of safety.
The Kawarau Bridge Bungy was, hands down, our favorite thing to do in Queenstown, and bungee jumping in New Zealand can’t be missed (unless you have fear of heights, fear of jumping, and a solid amount of common sense). Despite the howls of shock and protest from my friends and extended family on social media, it’s actually very safe. I mean, no one’s plunged to their death on it…yet! Plus, we all “earned” the free t-shirt which all bungee jumpers receive afterwords.
Those free AJ Hackett Kawarau Bridge Bungy t-shirts are useful reminders for my family that we, too, can be brave. Don’t underestimate their importance to us now. There is no better travel experience than being brave, stepping beyond our comfort zone, and having a brand new, thrilling adventure.