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World Travel Log

Follow James and Jay on a trip around the world.

Oct '09

Adventures in Queenstown

Anyone that talks about Queenstown brings up three different activities: Bungy Jumping, Skydiving, and Skiing. Unlike most people, Skydiving does not really scare me. Of course I say this before I have actually gone. While I do not doubt diving over New Zealand’s Southern Alps would be amazing, we just couldn’t fit it into our schedule. There was enough time for Bungy Jumping and Skiing.

We arrived on Wednesday night, but booked bungy for Thursday afternoon and Skiing all day Friday. The hostel we were staying at was booked for the weekend, like almost everything else in town, so we didn’t get a private room. Sleeping in a dorm with 5 other people was not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. Of course, after skiing for an entire day I was sleeping like a rock in no time.

Bungy Jumping

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IMG 0537Queenstown is home of the World’s First Bungy Site, operated by the international company, A.J. Hackett. In addition to the Kawarau Bridge, there are two other sites in Queenstown with the highest being about 150meters high, each over a canyon. My first preference was that site, but only 1 spot was available and I finally got Jay to agree to jump. Since we couldn’t do a canyon jump, we decided the bridge would make for better pictures AND it was the first site ever! The company operating the 43meter high bridge, has never had a major injury. That is pretty impressive considering each day they do between 80 and 100 jumps in the winter, and over 150 jumps in the summer!

While getting strapped in, I told myself I would not hesitate. It wasn’t until I got on the ledge that being scared set in. The girl that went before me made the process look pretty easy. Get strapped in, walked to the ledge, and jump. After you are done, you get lowered into a raft which takes you to shore. The straps were not quite what I expected. I thought my feet would go into a special harness. Instead, I wore a waist harness, while the bungy rope was literally wrapped around my ankles. Wrapped very tightly.

IMG 0530Holding to what I said I would do, I jumped immediately after the 3-2-1 count down. The moment my feet left the ledge I asked myself, “what the hell am I doing?!” The freefall only lasted for about 2 seconds, which was just enough time to realize what was happening. After that, I just swung around until being lowered onto the raft. The video and pictures make it look like I almost touched the water. If I had to guess, I was probably at least 10 feet from the water. On such a cold day, I did not want to get wet!

Minus 5

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Bungy jumping definitely got my heart going, so I was ready to calm it down some. So we headed to a bar called Minus 5. There are several in New Zealand. The entire bar is inside of a cold room, kept slightly below zero (celcuis). The walls, chairs, bar, and even the glasses are all made out of ice. Being this cold, you are only permitted to stay in the room for 30 minutes. There is a reservation process to schedule your time. The ticket price includes one or two vodka based cocktails. Minus 5 claims they only serve vodka since it is the only liquor that doesn’t freeze at these temperatures, but I suspect Absolute arranged an exclusive deal.

In any event, it was pretty cool. One of those places that you go once, but not really much of a reason to visit a second time.


The first winter I lived in Colorado, my “roommate” injured her ankle. The doctor she visited suggested no ski or snow boarding for the season, so neither of us went. During the 2nd winter, I was so focused on moving back to Austin and traveling so much, I was never in town for a ski weekend. After growing up in the snow and living less than an hour away from some of the best resorts in the world, I still never learned to ski.

Which actually works out, because I learned to Ski or Coronet Peak in New Zealand, from Mathiu. Mathiu was an Italian ski instructor that would come to NZ for their winter and say in Italy for his. The group I was in was an interesting bunch. A couple of Australians, fellow New Zealanders, and all thought skiing was the scariest thing ever.

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It took me most of the morning to get comfortable. The pace we were moving at was too slow for me. In the afternoon, we got to do runs on our own. By the time the day was over, I had finally go the hang of it. Go figure.

Last Night There

With a couple of action packed day, we spent the time in dorm rooms and headed to Franz Josef in the morning.

1 Comment »

1 Comment » to “Adventures in Queenstown”

  1. Arlene Lewis Says:

    So now will you go back to Colorado to ski?