This was to be our day in Queenstown, unofficial adrenalin capital of the world. Somewhat paradoxically our tour director, Majella, had decreed a free morning with the first scheduled activity to be meeting at the base of the Skyline gondola ride to the restaurant that overlooks Queenstown.
That left us free to sleep in or to spend a leisurely morning around the city. Most could do that on foot, walking down to the city centre and then to the gondola station, leaving the van available for those who did not want to face the steep descent to the city.
Majella and I were awake just a bit later than usual. In part at least that was the result of Majella having tuned the TV to a late night Beatles tribute special with Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr performing with an all-star cast. that finished about midnight so we were a little later to bed than usual. We ate breakfast and headed off down the street at about 8:30 am.
From there we wandered up the Queenstown Mall and Majella picked up a few items in one of the gift shops. We explored the rest of the streets for a while and then I carried the shopping back up the hill to the unit while Majella waited down town. When I returned she had found Russell and Norma so the 4 of us strolled up to the gondola station to wait for the others. When they arrived on schedule at 12:30 pm they were lucky to find somebody leaving a parking space just outside the station. We bought tickets, boarded the gondolas and rode to the top.
Once at the top we went directly out to the balcony overlooking the bungy jump and affording spectacular views of the city, lake and Remarkables mountains beyond.
Majella had been contemplating this jump since Laura Ryan took the plunge on our trip with her and Pat in 2007-08. There were no jumpers on the bungy when we arrived but one young woman did take the big swing from the ledge while we watched. The fall for that was much the same as the bungy and the recovery process was essentially the same but it did not require a leap from the platform. Rather the swinger was positioned and then released so that there might be less of a sense of leaping into space. Majella needed no real encouragement to try it because she had harboured that intention for years but Warwick’s interest in having a go helped her to go with it. When Warwick headed off to book in she followed and I went with her. We headed directly down to the office near the bungy access point expecting to find Warwick there. He wasn’t there but Majella booked in and was weighed and ready to go when there was a message for the operators about Warwick booking in for 2:00 pm from the upstairs location. As it happened safety regulations required a break for the staff at 1:30 pm, resuming at 2:00 pm. Because Majella was onsite she could have gone immediately but she opted to wait and go with Warwick. We headed back up the hill to see the others while they had lunch. Majella was not ready to eat before jumping.
After lunch we walked back down and Majella and Warwick joined the queue. There were a few bungy jumpers to go first before the swing, but soon enough it was Majella’s turn. She lined up in harness, was hooked up to the apparatus, given last minute instructions, and photographed. She had thought that one benefit of the swing would be that rather than having to jump she would be released by the operators but actually was required to pull the release herself. She did and she was away screaming on a long arc down toward the forest and the up and out toward the city and lake. Once the crew managed to sort out the twist in the cables caused by her spinning she was recovered and it was Warwick’s turn to swing and yell. Once he was recovered they made their way back up the hill to rejoin the group.
With that excitement over, we took the gondolas back down the mountain and drove out to visit the site of the original bungy on the Kawarau River Gorge. We watched a few jumpers there and saw some riders on the Zipride, a flying fox style ride. None of our party were tempted to jump or ride.
We headed back to Queenstown, picked up some bread along the way, and enjoyed a BBQ dinner in the units. Previous BBQ dinners had caused some concern about the risk of our chief cook, Russell, having his clothes spattered with grease. The men had taken the opportunity while the women were visiting a craft shop in Westport to purchase an apron for Russell so that he could keep the grease off his clothes. Its first outing was a great success.