updated 10/3/2007 12:42:47 PM ET 2007-10-03T16:42:47

I stepped to the edge of the launch platform and poked my head over the side. I could see the tops of trees around an opening a couple of hundred feet below, where the rock face of the mountainside sloped almost straight down. The view sent a slight shiver down my spine and set off a flutter at the bottom of my stomach.

  1. Don't miss these Travel stories
    1. Lords of the gourd compete for Punkin Chunkin honors

      With teams using more than 100 unique apparatuses to launch globular projectiles a half-mile or more, the 27th annual World Championship Punkin Chunkin event is our pick as November’s Weird Festival of the Month.

    2. Airports, airlines work hard to return your lost items
    3. Expert: Tourist hordes threaten Sistine Chapel's art
    4. MGM Grand wants Las Vegas guests to Stay Well
    5. Report: Airlines collecting $36.1B in fees this year

"You don't need to see where you're going," the guy tending the bungee site called "The Ledge" advised calmly in his New Zealand accent. "Are you ready?"

I've heard that some first-timers stall at this point and think things over, but this was no time for thinking.

Well, I could stall a little.

I grabbed a section of the bungee line and inspected it, as if that would make a difference. Hundreds of little rubber bands, laced smartly together. The bungee guy picked up on my last-minute curiosity. "It's well-used," he said pleasantly.


Image: The Queenstown Ledge Bungy
Take a deep breath, but don't close your eyes — the views are spectacular.

He suggested I stand behind a red line painted across the platform, a few feet back from the edge, to give a little oomph to my launch, and count down "five, four, three, two, one."

There's a difference between fear and terror.

Terror is a tsunami of an adrenaline rush that washes through your body when your feet leave the platform and you begin your free-fall. Nothing to grab on to, no way to turn back. You and the bungee, that's all.

Fear is something else. For me, it was the fear I felt of getting on the plane headed back home if I didn't jump and hearing that little voice saying over and over, "coulda, shoulda, woulda."

I'll take terror, thank you.

I didn't go to New Zealand with plans to make the 154-foot leap. On the way to Queenstown on the South Island, our driver slowed down at the bridge where bungee jumpers were preparing for their leaps. Then we drove down "bungee alley," a street lines with adventure sports outfitters in the lakeside town that's surrounded my mountains. Nobody said a word, but I felt myself being lured in. Slideshow: Explore New Zealand

Then, while taking a cable-car ride to the top of the mountain 1,500 or so feet above Queenstown, I spotted the bungee platform. The urge struck. But I waited.

Next day, I decided to find out more — only for purposes of my travel story, of course. It was about $110. And, are they booked all day? No, I was told by a pretty attendant. In fact, you can go now. She smiled wide. I took it as a challenge, and signed up. See, it's all your fault, readers.

The rest was easy. Wear anything you want. Step on the scales so they can write your weight on your hand, in kilos, of course — 74 for me or about 163 pounds — and answer some questions about your health. Sign the disclaimer, then step to the launch pad to be rigged up. I chose the mid-body harness that attaches the bungee to a steel loop on the small of my back.

The rest, well, it's easy as flying.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments