Friday, December 6, 2013

New Zealand: Days 16 - 18 - PTSD & Milford Sound

Wednesday - Friday, December 4 - 6, 2013

After two days battling Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from the bungee on Tuesday, I took the Jucy Bus & Ferry for a tour of Milford Sound (one of the fiords of south-western New Zealand).

I thought it was just a dull bus ride to the ferry, but the bus ride ended up being the best part! It was a three hour bus ride each way and then a one and a half hour ferry through Milford Sound.

We stopped about a dozen times on the bus and were able to walk around and take pictures of the jaw-dropping scenery.

Here is 'Mirror Lake', which is very appropriately named.

The rivers up in the mountains were so incredibly clean/clear.

We even filled our water bottles from them.

One stop was right before a creepy tunnel through the mountains. 

Again, beautiful scenery.

The road swerved back and forth to ascend/descend the mountains.

My favourite part of this trip was the Kea birds. They are the only alpine parrot in the world, and like the Kiwi birds, they say their own name (what is this, Pokemon??)! Kiaaaaaaaa!

The actual Milford Cruise wasn't as impressive as the drive for me. I think a big part of the appeal is just the idea of being on a boat. But obviously, after 9 months on Wakaya, it wasn't the same. I prefer the romance of a private sail through these areas rather than on a big tourist vessel crowded with people.
However, it was still a sight to behold.

And there were New Zealand fur seals! 
Brought me back to Galapagos...

New Zealand: Day 15 - Bungee Jumping

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Sailing Across the Pacific Ocean 2013 (Part 31) - Queenstown Skydiving & Bungy

As I said, I booked all this crazy crap right away to get it over with. Today's reckless activity was doing New Zealand's highest bungee jump: Nevis. They offer a few 40 meter jumps off bridges, but the highest was a whopping 134 meter jump into a canyon from an aluminum egg suspended in the air by a few rickety steel cables.

The fear I experienced today has no equal. Skydiving yesterday comes nowhere near the absolute terror I felt at this jump. It was just so...incredibly...high.

The bus ride today was a good one hour of tormenting anticipation. We got to drive by one of their 40 meter bridge jumps, which appeared frighteningly high themselves. The Nevis jump is almost three and a half times as high!

Even the bus ride had its scary moments as we teetered on the edge of death.

After signing us in and securing the harnesses, we made the walk down death row toward the trolley. The blood-wrenching screams (from current jumpers) that we heard during the walk did not help our nerves.

The jumping platform came into view shortly after boarding the air-trolley.
At this point, the reality of the situation I put myself in was becoming apparent.

It was just so...damn...high.

The trolley came to a horrifying stop as it slammed into the side of the jumping room.

They blasted some pump-up music as they strapped our feet in and prepared to jump. When my name was called, my heart sank to my stomach, packed its bags, said "f@&$ this Shaun, you're on your own this time", and left through my belly button to ride the trolley back.

Helping the previous jumper back in...

"Okay buddy, you're up"

I think it was at this point, as I shuffled over to the platform that my legs began to shake uncontrollably. I usually handle fear pretty well and have never felt my legs shake like this before.

I achieved a whole new level of fear this day.  Looking back, I have no idea how I made the jump. Fear in its purest form...

Here I am just as my feet left the platform. You can see how much fun I am having.

It was a full 8 seconds of crippling terror before the bungee came tight and all the blood in my body was suddenly in my head.

That wonderful moment when you realize the bungee did not break...

Before coming back up, you had to reach up and pull a snap-shackle to invert yourself so you don't come back into the jumping room upside-down.

Pure joy as I am pulled back up and realize how beautiful the world is.

New Zealand: Day 14 - Skydiving

Monday, December 2, 2013

All the extreme sports I will be doing involve jumping from ridiculous heights, and I have always been uncomfortable with heights and planes. I figured I would book them right away and get them over with so I can actually enjoy my time in Queenstown without fretting things to come.

So, today was skydiving. I went with Nzone who offers jumps from three different heights, 9,000, 12,000, and 15,000. The 9,000 was much cheaper, but in the words of Ron Swanson "Don't half-ass two things, full-ass one thing", so I went with the 15,000 feet.

It was a quick bus ride out to the drop zone and then an hour wait until our jump. 
They had giant chess too, but screw that, skydiving is crazy enough for me.

They do up to 200 jumps a day here, which was shocking to me. They had streamlined the whole process and even had a 'factory-style' parachute packing system to keep up with the jumpers.

It felt like a revolving door in there and everything was rushed, which really trivialized the accomplishment. Jumping out of a damn plane was a big deal for me!

I gave in and paid the $200 for a photographer to jump out with you to snap photos and film your jump. It's either that or NOTHING; not a single photo of your jump. They do not allow you to bring your own camera on the jump. I justified the purchase as having my own, personal, professional photographer jumping along side me would yield some great photos. However, he had absolutely no enthusiasm for the jump (didn't even pretend to) and took just the bare minimum photos to fill the album they give you.

Even the album that your photos come in was crappy. For what I paid it should be trimmed in gold, not falling apart by the time I carry it back to my hostel!

All complaints aside, the actual jump was incredible.

Friday, November 29, 2013

New Zealand: Day 13 - Queenstown

Sunday, December 1, 2013

I arrived at my hostel (Southern Laughter) in Queenstown at around 6:00pm today. Queenstown is best described and a ski/beach town combination. Everything is extremely expensive, bars are open until 4:00am every night, and there is ALWAYS something going on. It is also the global home of extreme sports, so you know I'll have to take part in some of them.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

New Zealand: Day 12 - Climbing Mt. John

Saturday, November 30, 2013

I took a hike up to the summit of Mt. John today. It was a sunny day, so perfect for a 360 aerial degree view of Tekapo.

The walk alone was worth the trip. The forest resembled what I imagine British Columbia to look like and had the most enchanting aroma.

The lake was glowing a much brighter shade of blue today with the sun beaming down on it.

It was a rough walk after nine sedentary months on a sailboat, but I made it.

Incredible view of the entirety of Lake Tekapo.
It was incredibly windy up here, and very cold.

There was a bar/cafe at the summit! I was so excited to have my highest beer ever.
I was disappointed to fond out they did not serve alcohol, and I was not going to spend $5.50 on a coffee. So I just headed back down the mountain.

I was so mesmorized by this incandescent lake that I walked right past my hostel and had to backtrack half a kilometer.