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Jumping into Freedom

Posted on 2/2/2016 12:47:00 PM in Traveler Insights

How one traveler marked a transitional point in life with a huge leap into the unknown

By Kathy R., 5-time traveler from Verona, NJ

I was traveling on Pure New Zealand with OAT with my partner Marykate. I had always heard about New Zealand being the place to go bungee jumping, so at the beginning of the trip I asked my Trip Leader, Tessa C., if this was something I'd have the opportunity to do. She said I should wait until we get to the South Island. Tessa planned the whole thing for me.

The company was called AJ Hackett. They have been doing this for years and years, so I felt really safe. I jumped off of the Kawarau Bridge in Queenstown. We had a free day in Queenstown, but there was no availability for the bungee that day, so I had to miss the excursion on the dart boat with the rest of the group. I heard that was really fun, but I wouldn’t have traded my experience for anything. It was life changing and incredibly freeing.

I had recently retired at 55 after 26 years at a desk job (I taught kids how to build robots) and this was an inspiring transition into my new life. It was a perfect way to “jump” into freedom and mark my transition with fierceness and courage and an amazing feeling of being alive! It was a life-changing leap, which I will never forget. They have a photographer and a videographer there capturing your whole jump. You can buy the photos and videos after your jump, which I did. Of course, most people do—because it’s not likely they’ll ever have that experience again… but that wasn’t the case for me.

After they brought me back up I asked, "Can I do it again?!" I took the next available spot around 2pm. I had a few hours to kill, so I took the shuttle that the bungee company offers into and out of Queenstown (which takes about 25 minutes one way), and shopped around town. Then I took the shuttle back out to the bridge and jumped again! I definitely look a lot more comfortable in the photos from my second jump—and in the video, which you can watch below. My first jump was $125 and the second was $65.

My first trip with OAT was to Nepal in 1995. I quickly realized that I was by far the youngest in the group, but it didn't matter at all. I kept telling the other travelers I hoped I was just as active and exciting as them when I'm their age. Since then, I’ve also taken Cuba: A Bridge Between Cultures; Ancient Kingdoms: Thailand, Laos, Cambodia & Vietnam; and Discover South America: Chile & Argentina. These trips have made me a better world citizen and strengthened my sense that we are all connected. Thank you, OAT, for taking me into the homes and hearts of these wonderful places.

And now, I invite you to watch my first jump:

And here’s my second jump. Do I look more relaxed to you?

While you may not opt to go bungee jumping when you join OAT for Pure New Zealand plenty of exciting discoveries await—as you’ll see in this video:

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