The first question I often receive when I talk about being scared of heights and bungee jumping from a 134-metre (440-feet) high platform hanging between two cliffs is: “Why?”. I did ask myself the questions many times that day. I didn’t just go bungy jumping to tick it off my adrenaline bucket list. It meant a lot more to me.
My bungee jumping challenge in New Zealand to overcome my fear of heights
It was easy to sign the paperwork (and a bit less easy for a budget traveller to pay the couple hundreds of dollars…!). At that time, I didn’t realise what I was doing. I wanted to prove to myself that I could overcome my fear of heights by doing bungy jumping. As a kid, I found it exciting. And I grew up, and it looked terrifying.
Not even a year before, I could not stand up on a chair without having vertigo. I had come a long way since, but was I ready for bungee jumping?
I was travelling in Queenstown in New Zealand, where one of the main tourist attractions is a super high bungy jumping in a canyon. It’s the third highest bungee jump in the world and the highest in New Zealand so I wanted to check it out. You can opt for jumping from a bridge in Queenstown, but it’s not my style to opt for the small option if I can get a better one.
The platform was suspended between two cliffs. As I entered the cabin that will take me up there, I could not open my eyes. I was already starting to feel tetanised before even being geared up. Seeing the guys jumping before it was my turn was making me feel unwell already. They found it “sick”, as they say in Kiwi slang when something is cool, but I was closer to the literal English meaning!
I stood on the edge of the platform, in the air, with only space all around me, 134 metres (440 feet) above the ground. The staff refused to push me, for security reasons. “Don’t think about it and dive!”, he said. As if it was that easy. “But… I have never dived before!”. Even in a pool, I had never ever jumped with my head first. Funny thing to realise when you’re about to do it from 134 metres high (440 feet).
“Stop thinking. Look in front of you and jump. 3… 2… 1… GO!”
I didn’t move. I started to feel the panic building up. My feet were naturally going back, and the guy was trying to hold them there. “Just jump! 3… 2… 1… GO!”.
I wanted to jump. I wanted to win that fight. But I was stuck.
A real fight was happening in my head. The entire body was saying “no.” I felt like I was trying to convince my mind to give the orders to my legs to jump. I had lost control of my body; it was not responding.
I started to feel my legs getting weak. I knew what would follow. I’d be on the ground as they wouldn’t be strong enough to hold me and people will have to carry me out of the way. It happened many times before.
“3… 2… 1…. GO!” It was now or never. And I did it. I did something that neither my mind nor my body was agreeing to do.
The 8.5 seconds of free fall at over 128 km/h was not as hard as jumping itself. It was just a matter of waiting for it to pass. I had no pleasure doing it, and I would not do it again even for free. All the happiness came from just knowing that I could do it.
How to do bungee jumping when you’re scared of heights?
It’s not simple to answer this question. I had to work on overcoming my fear of heights for months to reach the stage of booking a bungee jumping adventure. I had to work on my fear of height step by step first. This article retraces my journey.
Keep in mind that it’s expensive, and you won’t get a refund if you stay on the platform. For me, money is never a good pressure in these situations so I prefer to go only if I feel ready and accept I may lose my fee if I was wrong.
Is bungee jumping safe?
Jumping from a bridge or a platform is extreme, but not more dangerous than many other things you do every day. We are out of humans’ comfort zone and out of where we’re supposed to be, which makes you feel very unsafe. The level of safety is not the same everywhere. But New Zealand has a good reputation for safety. But even there, accidents happen. They’re rare but always impressive. If you are worried, I recommend asking questions to the team. They should reassure you.
Nevis bungee jumping or Nevis swing when you visit Queenstown?
The Nevis bungee jumping and the Nevis swing are next to each other. And if they both provide a great dose of adrenaline, the experience is not the same. I watched my friend doing the Nevis swing and it reminded me of a ride more than a jump. Someone will release the rope for you to fall. It removes entirely the challenge of having to jump. I would personally find the swing experience more fun but the jump experience more interesting.
What about you? Would you do bungy jumping? Share your experience in the comments below!
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