A swing too big for the playground

I have travelled to Queenstown, New Zealand, and experienced the world’s highest cliff jump and yes, I am still alive!

On Tuesday, December 6, I walked a few blocks from my hostel to the Shotover meeting location. I walked in and was warmly greeted by Rowena, one of the many friendly Shotover staff members that I would meet throughout the evening. I filled out a liability form and was then greeted by Claire, the sales manager. She was so friendly and helpful, talking about her experience in New Zealand and then explaining to me more about the Shotover Canyon Swing. There are over 70 jump styles, so Claire told me some of her favorites to narrow down the options and make it easier for me to decide which jump style I should perform.

As I was waiting with the other jumpers, in walked Steve. He was our driver and I would soon find out, also one of the individuals helping me jump off the 109 metre high cliff. He had a great sense of humor so I knew we were going to have a fun-filled evening. He weighed each of us, and got out a permanent marker to write our weight on the back of our hands, or so I thought. Rather, he just drew pictures. Mine was a snail – I am not sure if he was insinuating that I was slow, but that was his humor for you.

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We all loaded up into the Shotover van and prepared for our fifteen minute ride to the canyon swing. On our ride, we got to watch a video of previous jumpers and the many different jump styles we could choose. Each jump style had a corresponding rating, demonstrating how scary it was. The rating was from one underwear which was very scary to five underwear which was very, very, very scary – a clever rating scale if I do say so myself.

The drive alone was scary, with the van getting very close to the edge of the cliff. Once we arrived, we walked to the platform and Steve, Dougie, Crispy, and Morgan helped us get into our harnesses. They loved to tease us by telling us they hope we come back alive. The four of them got my heart racing again so I decided to go last so I got to see each of the jumpers before me. As they jumped the platform was 109 metres high (like jumping from the 32nd floor of a building), the freefall was 60 metres, the swing was over a distance of 200 metres, and they reached a speed of 150 km/hr.

The first jumper did Front Flips. The second jumper did the Indian Rope Trick where he held onto a rope above him until he let go. The third jumper chose the Backwards jump style. The fourth jumper did The Chair, where she was tied to a plastic chair and tipped backwards over the edge. The fifth jumper did Gimp Boy Goes to Hollywood, where he was hung upside down and then released. And finally, I chose to do The Pin Drop, which is rated five out of five underwear on the scariness scale. I clasped my hands behind my back, leaned forwards, and jumped off the platform sideways.

It was not that simple though. When I got to the edge of the platform, Steve and Morgan made me lean out over the edge while they held onto the back of my harness for a photo opportunity. As I was leaning out over the canyon, Steve and Morgan thought it would be funny to pretend to drop me. That was by far one of the scariest moments of my life. I thought that the swing would not be that scary since I had recently gone bungy jumping, but standing up on that platform looking down at the canyon, I was more scared than ever before.

I slowly approached the edge of the platform and stood sideways, asking to review one more time how I should jump, stalling for time as I gathered my confidence. I asked Steve and Morgan if they could count down for me, but they said no, their teasing attitude coming out once again. So I stood there for a split second, asking myself why I was doing this, and then jumped! I screamed so loudly as I freefell 60 metres and swung 200 metres over the magnificent cliffs and river. I finally took a breath and looked around me at my serene surroundings, as the swing began to slow.

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Before I knew it, I was being raised up back to the platform and my feet were on firm ground. Steve and Morgan teased me about screaming so loud and I just smiled and thanked them for their great sense of humor. My heart was racing and I could feel the adrenalin throughout my whole body. We all went inside and looked at our videos and photos; I was still shocked and very proud of what I just did, and now I had a video and pictures to prove to my family and friends that I really did jump off of a 109 metre cliff. All of the jumpers and I, along with Steve, hopped back into the van and headed back towards the Shotover office in Queenstown. On the way back, we got to watch another video. However, this video was absolutely hilarious because it was about jumpers who had won awards, such as the loudest scream or the biggest freak out.

I had such an amazing evening doing the Shotover Canyon Swing. It shattered all of my expectations, which were very high to be honest. Not only was the swing amazing, but the staff members really made it an extraordinary experience. They all were very friendly and welcoming, yet they had a great sense of humor, a fun attitude, and they were not afraid to tease me and make me even more scared than I originally was.

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When I got back to the U.S. everyone asked me to describe the canyon swing to them. I joked that it should be called a swungy, a swing and a bungy combined. The 60 metre freefall is like a bungy and then you swing for another 200 metres. It is so unique in this aspect and it is like no other extreme swing I have been on. I am so excited to say that I participated in and survived the world’s highest cliff jump, and it is an experience I will never forget!

Click here to book your Queenstown Canyon Swing experience today. 

By GoDo intern, Sammy

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