When I arrived in New Zealand for my semester abroad at Auckland University, I was wide eyed, overwhelmed and positively giddy at my new found globetrotting prowess. I spent the first couple of months struggling to keep up with the fast-talking, heavily accented paleontology professor, to keep up with the rules of rugby, (I know all about scrums now) and to keep up with my new Kiwi friends in the pub, (“two pitchers of Speights, please…No, I don’t need pint glasses, they’re just for me”).
Three months in, I had dropped out of paleontology, considered myself a dynamo on the dance floor at Boogie Wonderland on Customs Street and a regular badass on the left side of the road. Along with a spirited posse of new best friends, I had driven up and down the north island in a tiny Toyota Starlet rental car eager for the thrill of new escapades.
Finally, deep into month five, I literally took the plunge and completed my first bungee jump. Somewhat of a requirement in this off-beat country, bungee was the final Kiwi frontier that I was keen to avoid. Scarier than duneboarding in Cape Reinga, more of a rush than the alpine slide in Rotorua and more death-defying than the flying fox or canyon swing in Queenstown, I was assured that I wouldn’t be allowed to leave the country without throwing myself over an edge, hundreds of feet high, my ankles bound with elastic. Bungee was invented as a modern sport in New Zealand, so the jump locations seemed endless.
I decided on a gentle (pansy), 47 meter jump over the achingly picturesque Waikato River. Taupo Bungy’s cantilevered platform jutted over the edge of the deep canyon (47 meters deep, to be exact) that guided crystal blue water serenely past. There were water touch, blindfolded and backflip jump options, but I was barely able to muster the courage for my tentative shuffle to the edge and an ever-so-graceful squat jump over.
Once I made it past the initial shock of face first free fall, I was positively ecstatic to be bouncing by my ankles. What a rush! All the trepidation instantly evaporated and I was sporting a sloppy grin for the remainder of the day (month).
When I someday return to New Zealand, I will be raring to bungee jump again. The following are the spots where I hope to someday jump from, head first; Heck, I might even be brave enough to try the backflip!
Auckland Harbor Bridge- 40m
Here you can tickle Waitemata Harbor at NZ’s only “ocean touch” jump. The world’s first harbor bridge bungee site, you get to start your adventure with a dizzying bridge walk out to the jump platform- Scary enough as it is! You can jump solo or tandem and the impressive Auckland city backdrop gives off a thoroughly James Bond movie vibe.
What makes this site so special is not only the runway that allows you to execute swan dives, karate kicks and gainers from the precipice, but also the fact that the platform is situated 400m above Queenstown. A special waist harness makes for a more aggressive, free footed jump.
This high altitude bungee is tucked in a tower in the Southern Alps, near Methven. From the cantilevered platform’s metal grate (so snow falls through when it storms), positioned off Kea Rock, you can jump with a special back harness, skis or snowboard already on! You can admire the Canterbury plains in the distance after you un-hitch yourself from the harness at the bottom and then you are free to ski down the mountain!
This is the big kahuna, granddaddy, by far the highest bungee site in NZ. From a teetering cable car, high over the Nevis River, you enter the jump pod and soak in the rugged scenery. The river looks like a mere trickle from the platform, but after 8.5 seconds of wit-scrambling free fall it gets a lot closer! I have to say, this one is at the top of my list, but the hairs on the back of my neck prickle just thinking about 134 meters!
Wherever you try your bungee jump in New Zealand, count on the most exhilarating day of your life. I’ll be quivering with fear all over again, next time I approach the edge, but I know a bit of sweaty-palmed anticipation is well worth it for such supreme exhilaration.
Noella Schink is a travel writer for Auto Europe from Portland, Maine who recommends seeing new places by rental car. UK, Canada, and New Zealand are just a few spots she’s explored by hitting the open road.