Today we persuaded our guide to add a little sightseeing at the Kawarau Bridge, where in 1988 the first commercial bungee jump operation was opened by AJ Hackett and Henry van Ash.
Bungee jumping originates in Vanuatu on the Island of Pentecost in the Pacific, where it has — according to legend — a more than 1000 year long tradition. The legend says that Tamalie’s wife repeatedly ran away from him after being abused and mistreated, yet he always caught up with her, brought her back to punish her and continue the abuse. One day, though, his wife managed to climb into a tree before Tamalie could catch her. She dared him to climb after her and jumped out of the tree. When Tamalie saw her landing safely on her feet he jumped after her. But he had not noticed that she had tied vines around her ankles so he died when falling onto the ground.
The jump became an annual ritual and in the 1970th it was taken up in Oxford, Great Britain, by a group calling themselves the Dangerous Sports Club.
AJ Hackett saw a video of the group performing these jumps and started — with his companion Henry van Ash and the help of the University of Auckland — to develop bungee cords to be used for commercial bungee jumping.
Opening the first commercial bungee jump facility on the Kawarau Bridge near Queenstown put New Zealand on the map as a target for adventure tourism, and gave Queenstown the unofficial title as “The Adventure Capital of the World”.
No one of my group signed up for a jump, but we watched two people jumping and landing safe in the river below.
While enjoying the view, I had found something that I wanted to photograph, yet I needed a way to get my camera into a higher position — over the bridge’s fence. I searched the nearby parameters for an angle where I could take the photo that I was thinking of, but could not find anything that would have fulfilled my needs. Solo watched my search and asked me what I was looking for. When I explained to him what I wanted to do he offered me to take the photo while sitting on his shoulders. So we went back to the spot on the bridge that seemed most promising to me and I climbed on his shoulders. Once I was seated he started crawling up along the fence until standing tall, so that I could take my photo. We were just positioned right, when our guide yelled at us what we were doing…
Well I suppose it is called taking photos and helping out a friend.
But anyway I got my photo — showing what it might look like if one was to jump on the opposite side of the bridge.
Today’s ride offered another chance of starting the ride itself about 11.36 kilometers early, which meant not only to take the downhill from Lindis Pass into the Mackenzie Basin, but also including the steep climb up to the pass. Lindis Pass crosses a saddle between the valleys of Lindis and Ahuriri Rivers at an attitude of 971 meters above sea level, yet the street reaches only a level of 957 meters above sea. While the average grade “only” reached 4.09%, for the last 1.77 kilometers, we had to conquer the steepest part, reaching a grade of as much as 7.96%, this in temperatures 37˚C with no shade… But, as usual, once you have made it to the top you are rewarded with some beautiful sights, and the pain you felt during the climb is soon forgotten.
Not to mention, after reaching the top you are rewarded with a nice downhill — and this time it was a long downhill without the hair-pin bends, so I was able to go fast and reached almost 50km/h.
After about two hours I was, for a short lunch break, reunited with my group. Before my arrival, the German participants and our guide had decided to spend some time at a nearby café after lunch. But Solo and I decided that we would go on riding our bikes to Twizel, the final destination of today.
The road to Twizel had no more climbs to offer, but the temperatures stayed high and shadow was rare. When we saw a Salmon Farm, which had opened for tourists as well, we had some hope to not only find Salmon but a soda machine inside the farm-building. Unfortunately they did not have one. Yet the building was at least cool, so we spent some time there to cool down before continuing our ride.
We arrived in Twizel after a total of 4 hours and 36 minutes and found there a café, where we had some cold drinks while relaxing in the shade waiting for the guide bus to pass by.
After the bus had passed the café, we got back on our bikes to get to our next accommodation, to get our luggage and enjoy the refreshing shower.
Joining the group again in the evening, still being quite exhausted, I learned that I had all the symptoms of dehydration… not really what I would have planned for. Thankfully I was able to re-hydrate during the dinner.
If I had known that the café after lunch was the only chance to buy some more drinks before Twizel, I might have stopped there as well to have a big soda before continuing the ride…
Here you can find more of my photos from my journey on the South Island of New Zealand