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Adventure and adrenaline

NZ is famed for adventure so much so that Queenstown’s moniker is the adventure capital of the world. One primary reason for that is you cannot sue any of the adventure companies and claim crippling damages like you can in the US. If you are hurt (which you don’t or very RARELY do), the government just compensates for medical treatment and most of the financial burden is upon you. Saying that, the safety records of most of these companies are extremely good (like A J Hackett who boasts of more than a million bungy jumps with no casualties) and they cancel the activities if they find the weather slightly risky. I have gone with my instincts and have done a lot of safe adventures when I have been travelling. Here is a top 10 list of the scariest, wackiest, thrilling, adrenalin-pumping things I have done in the last 3 months!

  1. The scariest has got to be the bungee, born in Queenstown over the Kawarau river. A J Hackett(he’s even got a bio now) pioneered it. I did the one at Taupo over the Waikato river because it was priced lower than 100$ (all the Queenstown ones – same height or much higher – start above 140). It’s not the biggest, about 47m when the river is at its highest(?). You got to decide to do the bungy before you see the drop. Else you may never do it. As I walk to the edge, I cannot throw myself off. My mind argues about the harness and the safety record. But the heart has a reason… People who come back then get a “Almost did it” certificate! I ask quite a few questions before I take the plunge. The river comes rushing to me. For a second, I close my eyes but time just flies away and I hang upside down the cliff. It is an awkward position before I clutch the pole thrown by the boatmen. I would want to do it again now that I have done it. I must do it properly the next time.
  2. The second scariest is the Shotover Canyon Swing (nicknamed Not Your Average Backward Variety Swing), a reasonably new activity, available only in Queenstown. It is located precariously at 109m (more than double my bungy). I could describe it as half-bungee and half-swing. Here you free fall for 60m before the swing gently pulls you over the canyon – the views from here are just gorgeous – you are swinging at about 50m over the canyon. I had happily booked it and I was excited to jump, hoping to forget my not-so-good bungy and do a good swing. But the minute I peeped over the 109m edge, I stopped. I did the 5star (most scary) side jump, but I went all over it and ended up doing a tumble down the way. The people here are the most funny guides I have had and the jump guide later told me if you haven’t jumped in a while, it takes some effort to put yourself over the edge. Did he tell that to comfort me?
  3. The third on my list is the Tandem Sky Dive over Wanaka. Its byline is “Adrenalin is legal”. After a bungee, I could not possibly be scared when another person is ready to support me. The very idea of a person with you is so comforting that the fear factor reduces almost completely. For the bungee and the canyon swing, the machines should be equally trust-worthy, but it’s just a lot scarier. This time, I took the maximum height possible, 15000feet or 4572 m (thanks Google http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&q=15000feet+in+metres). This is half the height of Mt. Everest. As the flight circled the snow-tipped Southern Alps and the picturesque lakes for gorgeous views, I never felt so excited. As the altimeter slowly counted up and other jumpers at lower heights went away, the excitement got to me. Even before I could get scared, I had to JUMP out of the plane. The free fall feeling is incredible – no words to explain. Slowly as we fell for about a minute, my guide opened the parachute and after that the float back to the ground was quite normal. Sky diving on the Southern Alps helps you relive paradise. I have videoes of all these 3 scary jumps and my Amma will certainly faint on seeing this one because this is the sexiest of them all.
  4. Snorkelling in the brilliant blue coral reefs of the Fijian islands is indeed a thrilling experience. With two guys to help me get over my fear of the deep waters, I catch a glimpse of live corals and live out the fantasies of an under-water adventure.
  5. Rappelling or abseiling inside a small Waitomo canyon (home to the glorious glow-worm caves) is the next one. It remains my first adventure and so is very special. The safety procedures done, descending the canyon proves to be quite easy for me. I descend twice. In fact, I do it quite fast that I have time to visit the caves too. The “Lost World” adventure in Waitomo is very highly rated, but I don’t have time to do that.
  6. Sandboarding or duneboarding on the huge sand dunes of Te Puki on the Cape Reinga trip (the northernmost point) is exciting too. You walk up the dune with a boogie-board and slide all the way down to the bottom and the stream running there. My first two slides are just plain but on the third, I manage to slide all the way down to the bottom. Pros slide across the stream on the board, which is a thrilling sight.
  7. I try my hand at indoor rock climbing in Nelson because it has been raining so hard and my kayak/sail combo trip has been cancelled. It is quite tiring indeed. The owner is so nice to tell me that it is an all-day entry fee and I can come back any time. I learn the basics of climbing, like belaying and actually ascending up. Old ladies of Nelson belay me. I try the easy ones first and find that I am good at it. But the hard ones get me. Towards the end, I am not able to climb at all and give up half-way on the artificial climbs. There are just too many of them. This place also offers out-door rock climbing. If the weather had been good, I should have done one of them. Now I know how difficult mountaineering is. Having climbed trees and easy hillocks with bare feet, all this equipment (climbing shoes, harness) help me do it differently.Zorb
  8. Zorbing is another ‘Made in NZ’ activity in Rotorua, the second-most touristy place. It is by no means scary. I enjoy a wild wet ride and when I get out of the big ball, I feel fresh and funny. It provides me a huge amount of joy and transports me back to my kindergarten days!
  9. I include white water rafting here because it zapped me. Maybe that’s because I didn’t have a proper lunch before I rafted on the Shotover river. It had snowed a couple of days back in Queenstown and the waters were quite cold. It is not scary at all because there’s a team that will pull you out of the waters if you happened to fall. Our team is quite good over all the Grade 3-4 rapids and we have a dream time, managing to remain on the boat all through the trip. I didn’t even feel like buying pictures or videos because it is so ordinary. The bus trip through the Skippers’ Canyon road (where rental cars are not allowed) to the starting point of the raft is an equally thrilling one.
  10. Walking for almost 6 hours on the majestic Coastal track of the spectacular Abel Tasman National Park is bliss(!), I tell you. I hear that an area can become a national park in NZ if only it has a walking track around it. In fact, it rains quite heavily that day, I am soaked fully, my wet feet are begging me and I am happy to reach the park entrance. A Dutch IT girl called Ankie, an English software girl called Gills and an American couple called Caroline and ? (Oh, I don’t recall the husband’s name) talk to me through the trip. The more than 20km walk is not scary as my wild kiwi walk in Christchurch, which is another adventure by itself, because it is daytime and there are so many people who walk on the track. NZ is known for its great walks. In fact, Te Anau is fondly called the walking capital of the world. Without any walking gear, I manage quite well, doing a fair bit of walking in most places I went. Apart from that, I run barefoot to the charming Cathedral Cove in the Coromandel Coast.

Except for the walking, I am doing the above-mentioned activities for the first time in my life. Riverboarding is something I could not do in Queenstown because of the lack of time. Also, Harbour Bridge climbing is an exciting adventure which I will not do to save some money. Before I leave NZ in two weeks’ time (yeah, I can feel it is all over), I will do some canyoning (near Auckland to use up my budget), which I reckon, will be in the top 5!

Categories: NZ
  1. sk
    28 November 2006 at 3:51 am

    you are having toooooo much fun!!! :–)) Everything sounds exciting though I doubt if I will ever have the guts to some of these. Nee enjoy!

  2. 28 November 2006 at 8:23 am

    sk, one good thing about going alone is that i only get to make the decision. i saw a tamil couple in queenstown where the wife forbids the poor husband from ANY real adventure. the woes of married life! 😀 why dont you let kishore do what he wants to do? :-p

  3. A
    28 November 2006 at 7:50 pm

    Kalukku po :-))! Your achievement list sounds absolutely awesome. NZ is definitely on my list of places to go. And hopefully I will do all of these things too when I go to Kiwiland.

    That’s why the earlier the better – I think after 35 or so the chance of dying of heart attack while doing some of these things will become too real :-)!

  4. 28 November 2006 at 10:28 pm

    a, wish you come here sooner than later. as you get older, your enthu levels get lower unless you are weird 🙂 the oldest guy to do a bungy did that at the ripe young age of 94 (info from http://www.queenstown-nz.co.nz/information/InterestingFacts/). if you’d noticed i have done nothing on snow or the glaciers like skiing or hiking on the ice. i’ve saved all that for the himalayas, the most desired mountains on the whole of this earth!

    it feels funny when you call them achievements as if i can put them in my CV.

  5. A
    29 November 2006 at 10:57 am

    CV-la poda mudinjathaan adhu achivement-aa :-)? As far as I am concerned, bungee jumping is an achievement :-)! As are some of the other activities.

    Well, we are of the same opinion – I am shooting for ‘sooner’ too :-D!

  6. 30 November 2006 at 10:29 am

    this whole obsession with achievements and cv is probably because we are so close to the placement season 😉

  1. 5 June 2011 at 9:49 pm

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