Scout Field Notes: Bungee Jumping in Queenstown

Posted by Jordan Bailey

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Scout Field Notes are travel and adventure stories by Scout users and our team. Jordan is a member of the team, a San Francisco transplant and lover of all things travel. On a sunny Sunday afternoon, you’ll find her sprawled out with a book by Lake Merritt. 

Initially, I wasn’t that scared when I decided to go bungee jumping in Queenstown, New Zealand — the adventure (and bungee jumping) capital of the world. I wasn’t scared on the quick bus ride from the town to Kawarau bridge, or when I stood on the observation deck watching several others take the 141 foot plunge I was soon to take.

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I didn’t get full on scared until I was sitting on the steps of the platform with my bare feet pressed together, two heavily tattooed bungee operators tying a cord in loops around my ankles. As they worked, they nonchalantly discussed the ambulance that had left with the most recent injured jumper just minutes before my group arrived. They stopped joking when they saw the raw, wild fear in my eyes.

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Once I was all strapped in, I slowly inched forward towards the end of the platform, realizing for the first time the height of the bridge and the apparent insanity of my choice. A full-on freak out ensued when I was peering down at the river far below me, my toes hanging over the edge. A string of expletives involuntarily escaped from my mouth as I backed away from the edge. I could vaguely hear the tattooed men behind me telling me not to chicken out, reminding me that I would not be refunded the hefty sum I paid if I did.

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I started screaming before I even jumped, as I was sure that screaming my way through it would be the only way to survive. In the video of my plunge, you can hear the exact second I began thinking my life was over, as the octave of my scream changed from “screaming because I have to,” to the deeper, wilder “screaming because I’m afraid for my life” pitch. I’m sure the descent was beautiful — the bridge is over the crystal blue Kawarau river, and the leaves on the trees that surrounded it had just begun to change — but I can’t be sure as my eyes were squeezed shut the entire time.

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I didn’t realize I was enjoying it until I felt the cord catch, and although I was still hanging upside down by a relatively thin piece of rope, I knew I was (at least kind of) safe. Then, I couldn’t stop cracking up as I swung back and forth beneath the bridge, my hands dangling in front of my head, all the adrenaline catching up to me. I lowered myself into the boat that was waiting on the river to collect me and caught up with my friend who was waiting for me on the shore. “Let’s do it again,” I said.

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