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Jumping off point

I’ve always considered the bungy jump a fairly ridiculous idea. What if you’re paying money for old rope and it snaps? What if you detach your retinas or haven’t been strapped in properly by the Pepsi Max type dude who calls himself a jump technician and probably says the word “guys” too much? Most of all, how exactly do you go about stepping off that platform? I imagined it far more difficult than jumping out of a plane for a parachute jump where the earth below would be a mere abstraction.

But it was Lady Kate’s birthday -an anniversary she would normally dedicate a whole three days to back at home- and the afternoon was in grave danger of becoming a washout. Go-karting turned out to be closed, Puzzle World looked uninspiring and Lilliput Farm was both. Back on the edge of town at its rather fetching location above the turquoise waters of the Waikato River, Taupo Bungy was dubiously advertising itself as the second cheapest in New Zealand. “The very cheapest is in Rotorua,” explained the sales girl. “But that’s just over a big muddy hole in the ground.”

So you’ve been weighed, the fee’s been paid and all the various disclaimer warnings have been made. While strapping you in, the staff make deliberately distracting chit chat, as if you were getting an injection at the doctors. What are you doing here? Where do you come from? What’s the traffic like at home? But then the moment comes and you’re told to step forward; keep your hand in the air; chin down when you hit the water; go on the count of three. What else is there left to do when left standing 47m above the water and those numbers have evaporated into the air. Don’t hesitate, don’t think about it. No second thoughts. Just jump!

Taupo (NZ), March 2007


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