Recently I found myself in the adventure capital of the world, Queenstown, NZ, looking for something to burn my money on. I decided to give bungy jumping a go. I mean, why not? It’s only a little way off the ground and, anyway, I’d be attached to something if anything when wrong, right?
Bungy-jumping with Kiwis
I booked in to jump off the famous 43 metre-high Kawarau Bridge, which overlooks a stunning river. That height didn’t sound too extreme when I read it in the brochure, but when you’re standing right on the ledge it’s a different story! Sure, the safety staff tried to make small talk after they had taken my through the precautions, but to be honest I didn’t hear a thing. I was getting the sweats and couldn’t speak. My too-short life was in the hands of some straps around my ankles, a thin waist harness and a cord so small I could wrap one hand around it. Why was I doing this again? I shuffled like a convict up to the ledge and looked down at the fierce river raging below me. My stomach was flipping, and I couldn’t really think. Somehow (and I don’t remember this part), I tilted my body forward and let gravity take me. I didn’t scream, in fact I didn’t make a sound. I clamped my eyes shut and felt all control vanish. The world seemed to stop, or at least my breath did. My body was inverted, my head rushing to the water. Panic shook my whole being. Despite assumptions, there’s no whiplash. It’s a pull, then you’re springing up and down again. It was only when I was able to stand on stable ground that I felt the rush of exhilaration. I felt strong and badass.
Skydiving over Wollongong
A year later, my best friend and I decided to skydive in Wollongong. We figured we’d have some great views, if we could actually open our eyes during the drop! We weren’t sure what to expect, I mean the plane goes up pretty high! Would we be able to actually jump? Soon after arriving at the airstrip, we met the jumpers who we’d be doing the tandem jump with – the guys who were in control of our lives, basically. They seemed unnaturally relaxed! After the safety briefing we hopped in the plane and as we started climbing higher and higher, I tried to just admire the view. Ridiculous, I know. I was so nervous!
Next thing I knew, we hit 14,000ft and the side of the plane banged opened loudly – all blue sky and deafening wind. People awkwardly moved over to the doors and started dropping out, disappearing into the air. Literally disappearing… As I was last, I just watched them go, feeling more and more anxious. Suddenly, my feet were dangling over the side of the plane. I couldn’t look down. I was frozen. Luckily, as I was doing a tandem jump, I didn’t have much say in the matter. My partner made a quick movement, there was a big whoosh and we were out. Unlike bungy jumping, I screamed like I never have before. We were tumbling wildly and I forgot everything my jumper told me beforehand – keep your head tipped back and feet tucked in. We were freefalling at about 200km per hour for almost a minute, but it feels shorter than that. Once I started to control my breathing, I tried to take in my surroundings. It was magical. The cold air was freezing, but exhilarating. The chute came up – it was forceful but not painful. We began gliding and I instantly relaxed. My heart was beating out of my chest but the view was breathtaking. I wish I was up there longer. I felt weightless and free.
So which is scarier?
After experiencing both of these adventure sports, I’ve got to say that it’s definitely bungy jumping! I’ve never felt terror like that before. I was freefalling with my legs strapped together and I was scared because I was defenceless and couldn’t move. It felt really unnatural.
When you tandem skydive, on the other hand, there’s a professional strapped to your back who knows what they’re doing. You have use of your arms and legs, which trust me, is a big thing, and once the parachute is up, it’s incredibly liberating and just very, very beautiful.
Do you agree? Is bungee jumping scarier than skydiving? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!