ROBIN ESROCK’S TOP 5 QUEENSTOWN BUCKET LIST
In the Adventure Capital of the World, our intrepid traveller takes on four thrilling activities just waiting to be ticked off your bucket list.
Kawarau Bridge may be only 43 metres high, but it is home to the world’s first commercial bungy jump. A long ramp entrance leads to a café, auditorium, demonstration centre, viewing pavilion, and the scenic bridge itself, punctuated every few minutes by someone screaming. It’s my fourth bungy jump, and a full 190-metres shorter than the highest commercial bungy jump I ticked off in Macau. Still, I’m as antsy and nervous as a first timer, for there is something inherently bizarre about throwing yourself off a bridge to dangle like a beetle attached to an elastic band. I hop to the edge, tell the crew to measure the cord so I can touch the water, begin the familiar countdown, and take the leap of a lifetime.
2. Canyon Swing
The crew at the Shotover Canyon Swing are expertly trained to ensure your confidence is utterly shattered before they facilitate your 60-metre freefall into a 200-metre arc at 150 km/hr. Jumpers can choose from a variety of styles to leave the platform, like being upside down, somersaulting, pin dropping, or hurtling backwards in The Chair. I initially choose the forward leap, because I’ve always wanted to take a running leap into a steep canyon (doesn’t everybody?) For my second jump, I choose the Upside Down Gimp, in which I plummet head first with a teddy bear between my legs. I start the countdown, which lasted five, four, th….and the crew let me go early, initiating a wild and somewhat unexpected rush.
These bright red jet boats hit up to 85 km/hr on as little as10cm of water, blitzing up the striking Shotover canyon with a very small margin of error. Since it’s great fun for all ages, the Shotover Jets are one of Queenstown’s busiest activities. All you have to do is hold on, place your trust in the pilot, and hope he doesn’t slam headfirst into a rock wall. The biggest thrill comes from the Hamilton Turn, a 360 manoeuvre that shoots up spray and necessitates wearing the thoughtfully provided waterproof ponchos. Every time the pilot rolls his index finger in the air, we grab hold of the heated, shock-absorbing handrails and enjoy the wet spin, which never fails to thrill.
Between the snow-capped mountains, emerald glare of Lake Wakatipu, and the town of Queenstown itself, Bob’s Peak is one of the most spectacular places in the world to paraglide. Having tried this activity on five continents, I can attest that a memorable tandem ride rests on the views, the personality of your pilot at the controls, and the flow of warm thermal air that keeps the parachute afloat. All are immaculate here over one of the most beautiful places one can visit. Anyone who says we weren’t meant to fly should try this first.
Renowned travel writer, TV host and bestselling author Robin Esrock is the author of the upcoming books - The Great Australian Bucket List, and Esrocking Australia with the Kids. Follow him @robinesrock, @Ausbucketlist or www.esrockingkids.comBack