“Why aren’t you doing the bungee jump?,” the man with wild eyes and a crazy grey beard turned and asked me from the front of the big, white van that took eight of us to our fate at the Auckland bridge. “Well,” I said as sarcastically as I could in order to hide my fear, “I do have a tiny bit of sanity left in me, so I’ll stick with the bridge climb.” He laughed a big bellied barrel laugh that only a rough Aussie like himself could and wished me luck.
[quote]From this point in the climb onwards, we could see the sea beneath our feet. My mind figured out that this was not a good thing and brought my fear to the front of my mind with a resounding leap.[/quote]
It occurred to me that I might need more than luck as we arrived at the climbing and bungee office near the base of the bridge and were asked to sign a liability form. I hate those forms! The kind of forms that basically state that if you die your next of kin will not sue the companies involved. This is not the kind of thing a person wants to see when they are about to rise forty plus meters above the water. I reluctantly signed and then even more reluctantly put on the waterproof climbing clothes that were a little less than flattering in “one size fits all.” After that, I was on my way up with four other weary climbers and a sassy climbing leader called Drew. Not surprisingly, Drew gave no climbing instructions and no safety tips. He simply smiled and said, “Follow me.” Follow him is exactly what we did, some more reluctantly than others.
At first, my fear was at back of my mind. We walked up steps that were seemingly no different than those at a football ground. As we made our way up the steps, Drew went over what I like to think of as his “second job requirement”. The first, of course, being to keep my new found friends and I from falling to our untimely deaths.
This second job requirement I refer to was to make the bridge itself seem as interesting as possible. We heard about the history of the bridge, how long it took to build (five years). We were told about how this was a life line to the south shore of the city of Auckland. Drew took us inside the bridge in order to demonstrate the amount of concrete used to build the bridge. We were even told in great detail about the “Nippon clip-ons” and the technology it took to add them. Drew told us all of this with about as much enthusiasm as one can muster when going to the dentist on a Saturday afternoon.
This isn’t to say that Drew did not entertain us. The entertainment came much later in the climb when we reached to halfway point. That was the point when we stopped to watch the bungee jumpers. It was immediately apparent by the look in Drew’s eyes when we watched the first jumper dive into nothingness that the bridge climb was definitely created for those of us who are not so into rushes of adrenaline. After all, bungee jumping was invented in New Zealand. I guess that means the New Zealanders hold the patent on adrenaline.
We eventually moved on from the pull of the jumpers. Although we all agreed that it was not nearly as exciting, we did have our own adventure to finish, adrenaline or not. From this point in the climb onwards, we could see the sea beneath our feet. My mind figured out that this was not a good thing and brought my fear to the front of my mind with a resounding leap. The wind started to blow, the rain began to fall. Drew, who had been talked excitedly about adventure sports since we left the jumpers, fell silent as no one could hear him through the wind anyway and I wondered for more than a moment why I couldn’t have just admired the landmark from afar rather than insist on experiencing the climb. I took that thought back when we reached the top. Despite the rain, we could see for miles past the beautiful Waitemata Harbour. There were boats everywhere. Speed boats sped underneath us, sail boats headed out to sea and some boat even floated nearby with people on board just enjoying each others company. Then, I turned around (slowly, of course, and without letting go) and figured out why climbing is so much better than jumping. When you are jumping, you can’t stand still to see the view. Auckland stretched out before us in great metallic awe. I smiled for a minute and heard Drew shouting to turn around again so that he could take a picture. The others lifted both their hands above their heads and posed with big cheesy grins on their faces. I hesitated for a moment and then thought, “what the hell.” Both my hands when above my head in great triumph as I fell flat onto my backside!
When we got back to the office, I looked at the picture with a mixture of delight and pain. “You see,” said Drew, “that is why bungee jumping is so much better. I have never seen a bungee jumper fall onto their backside.”
I guess he had a point.
The Auckland bridge climb lasts for approximately 1 ½ hours and costs $120 NZD. Reservations can be made at www.bungy.co.nz.