The Land of Kiwi Adventure: Facing Fears and Pushing Boundaries New Zealand Style
Jun 12, 2019 10:38PM
By Meg Ochs
Bungee Jumping off Kawarau Bridge, New Zealand
New Zealand is an island nation in the middle of the Pacific Ocean separated from Australia by the Tasman Sea. New Zealand is known for its dramatic landscapes, gorgeous scenery, and seemingly endless thrill seeking adventures. Queenstown, on the South Island, where I spent nearly two weeks of a beautiful summer, their winter, is known as the “Adventure Capital of the World.” In tourism, there are probably few truer statements than this. In Queenstown, you can do it all. You can go bungee jumping in the mountain canyons, explore the waters of Lake Wakatipu or speed boat through The Shotover River Canyons, visit haunted houses, and ski the Southern Alps...or skydive over them! My passion is skiing so although this New Zealand trip was intended solely for skiing, I ended up completely and unintentionally chasing my fears and pushing my comfort zone. I loved every minute of it.
New Zealand had been one of my bucket list destinations for quite some time. While I might have come for the white fluffy snow, I inevitably enjoyed so much more. Part of New Zealand’s lure is its isolation and unique island ecology. Unlike its down under neighbor, New Zealand lacks natural predators but while there may be few dangers in the wild, you will have no trouble finding experiences that scare you! Rarely one to hesitate, I did my best to jump right in to all New Zealand has to offer. Queenstown is definitely the place to be if you’re a thrill seeker. As I chased adventure in and around Queenstown, I reminded myself that it’s usually the experiences that scare us the most that are the most worth having, and that teach us the most about ourselves. This was undoubtedly true for me as I pushed my boundaries and enjoyed every adrenaline filled moment.
My first thrill seeking adventure was a bungy jump with famed company, A.J. Hackett, at the Kawarau Bridge where I graciously said yes to going “full send” on a river dunk versus staying dry above the water. While A.J. Hackett has other locations in the Queenstown area, I chose Kawarau because it is considered the “World Home of Bungy.” The bridge stands 140 feet above the Kawarau River. Thousands of people come here every year to test their limits and charge their adrenaline bank. This year, just three days after my 34th birthday, I decided to do the same. I was not disappointed. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous, I was. I felt more scared and vulnerable than I can honestly ever remember being, but I know the fear of missing out, wondering what if, and living with missed opportunity is always greater. Some opportunities don’t come around twice. I leapt off the bridge with pointed toes and outstretched arms, and dipped way down into the sea green, nearly freezing, river water. I cleansed my sinuses, tested my ticker, and got soaked; yet, I walked away all the better having had had one of the most exciting, fast paced experiences of my life.
Skiing is my happy place. Typically, it calms my nerves and grounds me. While New Zealand certainly can offer extreme skiing, on this trip I stuck to the resorts near Queenstown; some of the best in the Southern Hemisphere. I made turns at The Remarkables, Coronet Peak, Cardrona, and Treble Cone. While I didn’t get to ski any giant storms or push past any new comfort zones on my skis, I certainly have no complaints. I got to go skiing at night, for the first time in years, and on the eve of my birthday no less. Additionally, for the first time ever, I got to ski on my birthday! For a skiing aficionado, born in the dead heat of August, this was a lifetime achievement. I skied four days total between The Remarkables and Coronet Peak, sister resorts within Queenstown, and an additional three days between Cardrona and Treble Cone. Seven full days of skiing in one of the most striking mountain ranges that I’ve had the privilege of seeing, and skiing, thus far. Whether by myself or with friends, I thoroughly enjoyed the spectacular splendor that is the majesty of the New Zealand Southern Alps.
Skiing is always on my list, and bungy jumping had been on my radar prior to arriving in New Zealand, but with my limited time and the abundance of choices, it was hard to choose only one additional outdoor adventure to experience while in the land of thrills. I finally settled
on...The Hydro Attack. The Hydro Attack is a semi-submersible shark ride, half jet ski, half diver, that leaves from Queenstown Bay and travels through Lake Wakatipu at speeds between 40 and 80 kph, or 24 mph to 50 mph. The Hydro Attack dives under water and also jumps straight out of the water giving its guests a mini adrenaline rush filled with nerves, perhaps a little nausea, and for me, uncontrollable laughter. The Hydro Attack allowed me to do all of the things I always wanted to do on a jet ski without getting thrown off. It also gave me a great look at the beautiful water and lake bed of Lake Wakatipu.
Kiwis have always been one of my favorite fruits. After an extremely memorable visit, it turns out, I still love kiwis, but I also love the land of Kiwis. “Kiwi,” of course, is the demonym for people from New Zealand, aptly named for the Kiwi bird. What’s not to love? The scenery, the skiing, the adventure, the people all added up to an incredible experience that tested my limits and offered an abundance of exciting, spontaneous ways to challenge myself. Queenstown reminded me how exhilarating it is to lean into my fear with arms wide open. In New Zealand, you go for the thrill, test your limits, and push your boundaries; bonus if you get to enjoy a good kiwi wine along the way! New Zealand got my heart racing, a lot, but it was well worth it. I can’t wait to do it again. Push myself, face my fears, and come out the other side better, stronger, and with amazing new travel memories to last a lifetime.
https://www.bungy.co.nz/ AJ Hackett Bungy, New Zealand
https://www.hydroattack.co.nz/ - Hydro Attack, Queenstown, NZ
https://www.queenstownnz.co.nz/ Queenstown, NZ
https://www.cardrona.com/winter/ - Cardrona
https://www.coronetpeak.co.nz/ - Coronet Peak
https://www.theremarkables.co.nz/ - The Remarkables
https://www.treblecone.com/ Treble Cone