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Thursday 6 March 2003
|Queenstown and the Remarkables|
Sleeping in a little, I got up and ready, and went to a bakery for brekkie. I wandered around for a while, put some film in for processing, and soon realised that there wasn’t a whole lot to do in the actual town of Queenstown other than eat, drink and shop, at least as far as what I like doing.
At 10:50 I went and checked in for the Shotover Jet. We took the bus for about 10 minutes to the Shotover river. The bus pulled up on the sand flat next to the boat wharf. The river flowed really fast, swirling around the boat as it sat tied up. We were given spray jackets and life vests, and climbed into the boat. I was in the third row from the front, of four rows, on the right side. Just backing out from the wharf mad me grin, because you could feel the boat had a heap of power behind it. We went about a hundred metres upstream, then turned around and zoomed downstream, past the wharf for photos, then we were straight into the first canyon. The wind blasted my face at about 70km/h, he boat rocketed through the canyon, hugging the walls, missing outcrops by less than a metre. We were quickly out of the canyon and into a wide gravelly area. Here, we did a few spins, which were pretty fun – I got showered with spray a couple of times. Then we went through a second canyon and came out to more flats, where we turned around. It was surprising how little engine noise you could hear in the boat – because of the air slipstream blasting past - on shore the boats were quite noisy. I found myself thinking it would be best sitting in the front row on the right gunwale, since the boat is like a rally car, the front gets closest to the inside of the corners (the rocks). We zoomed back through the canyons again, with a few more spins thrown in. In the open sections, you could look down and see river stones covered by only centimetres of water going under the bow. We went up past the wharf, up to a point where there was a low waterfall in the main river, and a tunnel which was built for gold mining, which had a huge volume of water flowing out of it into the river. Ducking briefly back into the canyon, we finished up at the wharf. At some times through the canyons, you could look up as you passed a rocky outcrop and see rock overhangs directly above the boat.
After sitting in a grassy viewing area, and eating some lunch, I jumped on the shuttle bus back to Queenstown. I picked up my photos, and thankfully found that my camera was still taking photos OK and had not wrecked any. I wandered around for a while till 2:50 when I checked in for my bungy jump. I was feeling a little nervous in the hour or two before. We got on the bus which headed north to the Kawarau River suspension bridge. It has been replaced with a concrete bridge nearby, for the highway, and is only used for bungy jumping now.
There were quite a few people milling around the site, especially on the viewing deck, and on the bridge. We went into the building where I filled in a small slip titled ”toe tag”! Then I was weighed (82kg) and signed the liability waiver. I was the 97th ticket for the day! I walked out to the centre of the bridge where there were two bungy platforms next to each other (one for lighter people & one for heavier). I put on a harness (climbing harness) which had a strap to connect to the bungy cable. It seemed like everyone was hanging back a bit. I watched as a woman backed out because she was too scared. Not long after this, I gave the operator my ticket and climbed into the protected part of the platform, where the operator wrapped a towel around my ankles, then wrapped a web tape around and between my ankles. As he was doing this, he asked me a few questions about what I did for a living, etc, obviously to keep me from thinking about where I was too much. Tying on only took about 30 seconds, and before I knew it I was waddling up to the very edge of the platform. From there, things happened fast, I was asked to wave to the camera, then the viewing deck, and to look at the road bridge up the river. Immediately the operator counted to five and without really realising how, I was off. I had just enough time for my heart to jump into my mouth, and to think “oh crap, what am I doing?”, and to feel the rush of wind, before I went head down, starting to decelerate. I didn’t actually touch the water, although I’d asked to. I think I was on the first bounce before I realised what had happened and thought “I don’t even consciously remember jumping off. The bounces lasted about 10 seconds, and were quite fine, the blood had started going to my head a little by the time they started lowering me toward the water. Two guys in a rubber raft caught me with a long pole and put me in the boat, detached my harness, and pulled the boat back to the stairs tot the top. I walked up the stairs back to the viewing platform, feeling a little wobbly. When I got to the platform, most of the crowd there clapped for me spontaneously, especially the Japanese tourists. I had one person ask me what it was like, and two Japanese couples wanting photos with me – rather strange! Several people on the platform had also told me I was really brave?! After hanging around for a while longer, and getting the included T-shirt, the bus left for town. Everyone was a lot more talkative than on the way there.
Back in Queenstown, I sat on the Lake Wakatipu shore stone wall, writing my diary for a while. While I was there, a young woman who had also been siting on the wall came over, and we talked for a while – she was a Kiwi who did advertising, and was in Queenstown for three days. She normally lived in Auckland. We talked for a while about how pretty the area was and about travelling alone. She said she was probably going to Australia when her boyfriend went (he was in a band). It soon got quite cold as the sun went behind the mountains, and we said goodbye – she was going to take a spa at her hotel room – lucky thing! Before I went to write my diary, I’d gone to a souvenir shop and bought a jade pendant – as I didn’t have any souvenirs to that point, other than for the Milford Track. I had dinner at a small Thai café which was rather nice. I had planned to see a movie, but by then it was getting a bit late, and I wanted to pack my stuff after cleaning my tent, since I had an early start in the morning.