The Shotover Canyon Swing in Queenstown (the world’s highest cliff jump) was one of the most hyped-up activities that travelers told me about prior to visiting South Island.
I also was told that it was more enjoyable and worthwhile money-wise than the bungee.
I wasn’t disappointed. We ended up jumping (and then swinging) over the Shotover River with backdrops of sky-high mountains and lush greenery. It was pretty breathtaking. A 109m high jump, 60m freefall, and 200m swing. Not bad, ay?
For an extra $35NZD, we could also do a second jump each, which was definitely worth it. Why get all the way out there and only do one jump, after all?! That’s practically like two for the price of one.
I was the last to jump (or swing, in this case) out of our group of six. Oh, the anticipation. There were over 70 different styles to jump, but I was adamant about which ones I wanted to do: the backwards flips and pin drop (both deemed very scary on the scare-dometer).
It was pretty enjoyable watching as each person inched out onto the platform, and much like bungee jumping, either had to jump themselves or was let go by one of the workers. No one backed out, so I was quite proud of our group – everyone went efficiently and no screams were audible (most likely since none of us could hear once they tumbled below).
Heck, one of the guys on our tour jumped in the nude to get his second jump free. Spontaneous entertainment.
When my turn came around, I tensed up and felt more scared for this than bungee jumping. I attribute most of it to inching out on the platform with my back toward the edge. My heart started racing so I grabbed ahold of the guy with my fingers practically digging into him. I didn’t want to let go, just in case he pushed me jokingly (which he was doing to some others).
My main concern was getting the backwards flips accurate. I just imagined myself with my legs splayed out like a penguin if I did it wrong, and I didn’t want that on video. I’m a perfectionist; I only want the best.
Falling backwards with your legs tucked in is much like being a sowbug toppling in the air, I imagine. I was scared to death when I fell, just because I could only see the sky and nothing below. The guys joked that you shouldn’t hit the rocks below as long as you keep your feet up. As much as they joked, when you’re falling and rocks skim past, you wonder just how close you are to them.
The freefall was only a few seconds before it turned into a beautiful swing above the Shotover River (aquamarine water that looked too stunning to be fresh and all natural). I looked up and saw the high mountain scapes, some dotted with rocky gray cliffs and others with lush green splotches. Swinging over the river was my favorite part, since they still took some time to pull you back up. You had time to take in the landscapes, unlike with bungee jumping, where everything was over in the blink of an eye. And in truth, you don’t get the chance to leisurely swing while you’re strapped to the bungee chord – it’s more of the thrill activity you do to brag about.
For my second jump, I did the Pin Drop, where you hold your hands behind your back and jump sideways off the platform. Doesn’t seem that scary in words, but hell, when you do it, it feels like you have no control of things. My feet kicked backwards and forwards uncontrollably – I presume I looked like a handicapped duck that was kicking with all its might. I luckily kept my hands behind my back for the whole freefall. Yet, it felt like I was jumping while handcuffed – such a strange sensation of not being able to use your hands to grab anything.
After the jumps, the driver took us back to central Queenstown and played a hilarious video of some of the best (meaning the worst) jumps – people clinging to the guys, people holding onto the platform and not letting go, those who tried taking the workers with them, guys who kicked the people off, people who rode a bike/snowboard/skis/etc. off the platform, one who jumped with two trashcans attached, those who were pushed off while tied to a chair. Apparently you have more freedom with what style of jumps you do with this, versus with bungee, you’re not really allowed to do anything crazy (based on safety).
For the money, the Canyon Swing is definitely worth it moreso than a bungee jump. However, for the bragging rights, the Nevis bungee is probably the way to go. 😉 Another experience in the books…