Why did I skip the north island entirely to fly directly to the south island of New Zealand?
Queenstown. The adrenaline capital of the world.
When I was five years old, my parents took me to Disney World in Orlando, Florida, and I didn’t reach the height requirements to ride space mountain, so I bought a pair of platforms. When I was twenty, I bought my then-boyfriend an excursion to go skydiving for his birthday which meant, as a reward, I got to go skydiving for his birthday. Any chance I get to jump off a cliff, I take, and any opportunity to swim with animals that could rip my finger off (or more), I seize.
So when I heard about the Nevis Swing in New Zealand, the world’s largest swing, I jumped all over it. It was one of the few things I preemptively booked before actually leaving the US. I was home at my parents’ house, maybe a few too many glasses of wine in, when I started researching some of the adrenaline-induced activities I could participate in whilst in Queenstown. Bungee jumping? Already did it. Skydiving? Ex-boyfriend’s birthday. A swing? Hm. What a weird and interesting concept. Sign me up.
It cost me somewhere around $100 (in USD). I believe if I had booked it in New Zealand I would’ve saved some money, but like I said, wine.
The company that runs the Nevis Swing is AJ Hackett. They offer an array of services and their meeting point is fairly easy to reach if you’re staying in Queenstown. It is located at the main train station right off of Camp St (I wish someone had told me this because I ended up at a bakery begging for directions– just think, train station!).
Once at the train station, you sign in and they weigh you. Then they write your weight on your hand (scarlet letter much?). Just kidding; it’s for safety precautions! And be happy if you’re American because they weigh you in kilograms, so just consider it a number (since America is the only country who doesn’t function on a damn metric system).
Eventually you are guided to a bus which drops you off at your designated destination. I was pumped up and ready to go until my fear of heights kicked in and we started driving up a very twisty-turny road (more on that in another post: Road Tripping throughout New Zealand’s South Island). I sat next to a young German girl (18 years old!) traveling solo who was about to bungee jump.
I arrived, checked in, got strapped in and was guided to walk down a metal walkway.
I watched people swing and I wanted to get it over with. I was excited but the watching person after person was definitely triggering something in my fear of heights.
Ok, here we go!
“How are you feeling? Are you ready? Are you nervous? Are you ready for your swing?”
The staff is so incredibly friendly but the small talk was making me more anxious for my own good.
“YES. YES. YES. YES I’m ready. I’M FINE. EVERYTHING’S FINE.”
“Ok smile at the camera. Now smile at the camera behind you. Now smile at the camera to your left. Now smile to the camera at your right.”
I wanted to be like, “I clearly have a GoPro in my hand so I’m not buying any of your stupid pictures,” but that would be rude, now wouldn’t it? So I forced a very fake smile (watching it back was hilarious), and then they asked me if I wanted to be “surprised.”
“Ok we’ll see you later!” was all I got before being dropped into the damn universe!
Oh my gosh, there are no words to describe that free fall. This video should definitely be able to paint the picture for you! What a horrendous sound. Everyone else sounded cute and cool, while I sounded like I was vomiting on air. Because… I was.
But once the swing slowed down, the views were stunning. I was floating on top of a beautiful green terrain and my fear of heights quickly dwindled. It was beautiful, serene, and helped me not only face something I was terrified of, but conquer it.
I won’t say I’ve overcome my fear of heights, however. I’m saddened to think this is something that will stay with me (I have had it for about five years now and continue to challenge myself with activities such as this, yet it doesn’t go away). I have no regrets, though, and I’m glad I faced my fears.
I highly recommend going after ANYTHING you’re afraid of, at least once. I would 100% regret if I had not chosen to do this swing, despite all of the fear and anxiety leading up to it. Afterward, I had a feeling much stronger which was of accomplishment and, on top of all of it, a few good laughs watching that damn video back to see what a jackass I looked like. Do it. Face your fears. I encourage everyone to just go after what it is you wouldn’t typically see yourself doing. Most times, you end up loving it. It’s cliche but it’s true, you only miss the shots you don’t take.