Adrenaline Junkies Flock to New Zealand

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QUEENSTOWN, New Zealand - It's known as the "extreme sports capital of the world."  New Zealand has long been a haven for adrenaline junkies and outdoor enthusiasts alike.

In fact, Queenstown, located in the center of New Zealand's South Island, is home to the world's first commercial bungy jumping operation.

It started in 1988 on the famous Kawarau Bridge, where many come to take the "ultimate plunge."

CBN News Reporter Wendy Griffith took the plunge and lived to talk about it. Read below or click play to see her experience and her comments afterwards.

A young Canadian girl who just jumped and was smiling from ear to ear said, "It was fantastic! I have a total adrenaline rush right now!"

She said the worst part was just inching forward on the platform and looking down. When asked if she'd do it again she said, "If I wasn't cheap and backpacking, totally, right now!"

A young man from Australia approached us soaking wet from the experience (you have the option of touching the water or not when you bungy) and shaking from head to toe. He had one word for the experience, "Scary!" he said. "The freefall was like 'whoa' and then I was like 'whoa' and it was just scary."

The Ultimate 'Photo-Op'

Although it looked terribly exciting, I decided that this reporter was not going to jump off a perfectly good bridge.

Instead, I decided to do something much more terrifying-- Queenstown's Shotover Canyon Swing.

Although at first I had no intention of free-falling 200 feet and then swinging out at about 100 miles an hour into a glorious New Zealand canyon but, before I knew it, the smooth-talking guides had me harnessed in and standing just inches from one of the most beautiful yet terrifying scenes I had ever witnessed.

"I'm not going over there!" I'm just here to do interviews, I don't trust you guys," I joked.

The blonde Australian guide named Harry convinced me to get a little closer to the edge and take a look.

"Why do people do this?" I asked him.
"It's the challenge of being afraid and doing it anyway," he said.
Well, I was certainly afraid. But Harry convinced me that they could swing me out over the canyon for a "photo-op" and that I would not have to freefall.
"So, I don't have to drop?" I asked.
"No, not on this one," Harry said. "We'll just connect you to this rope and you'll swing out horizontally," he said.
"That is really far down, I want to see someone else do it first," I said.
"I know you do," Harry said sarcastically.

'I'm Not Going to Freefall'... Right?

Harry used small talk to distract me from what was about to take place.  "My brother lives in New Hampshire.." he began.

Meanwhile, I'm thinking that my harness is way too loose.

"Take a seat and you'll feel your harness working and all that sort of stuff," Harry said. "You won't fall out of the harness."
"But it's loose," I pleaded.
"No it's not," he assured.
"But I'm not going to freefall?"
"No, you're not going to freefall," Harry promised.

Finally, I sat down in the harness, and they swung me out just a few feet from the platform.

"Connected!" Harry said with a grin.
Nothing was below me but miles of open sky and canyon.
"I'm trusting you with my life!" I said nervously.
Harry put me at ease. "Just a smooth comfortable ride from here Wendy," he said.
"Seriously?" I asked
"Seriously."
"I don't want to go too fast," I said.
"You want to do it?" he asked. "I reckon you can do it, you're looking comfortable out there. I'll make it go nice and slow for you," he said.

And with those famous last lying words-- Harry dropped me!

Not even a split-second later, I realized I was free-falling and Harry had --well-- lied to me. But the feeling was spectacular, marvelous, hilarious!

Let Go and Enjoy the Ride

Really no words can describe the joy I was feeling. It was freedom, but more than that, it was like being surprised by joy.

After the freefall, you swing out into this vast canyon and with the river raging below all I could do was laugh and laugh and laugh. I don't remember ever laughing so hard or uncontrollably.

It reminded me of how God wants us to laugh and that laughter is good medicine and suddenly I realized - this was God!

God knew I really wanted to do it, but I needed someone like Harry to just drop me. When they pulled me back up, Harry and I hugged and I thanked him for lying to me.

"It was for your own good," he smiled. "Well done Wendy, well done."

Indeed, I learned a wonderful lesson. Sometimes it's good to just let go and enjoy the ride.

But believe it or not, the fun was not over. Our next stop was the wet and wild Shotover Jet Boat Rides.

Living the Adventure

Known as the world's most exciting jet board ride, the heart-pounding journey involves skimming past rocky outcrops at insanely close range as you twist and turn through the narrow canyons at breath-taking speeds.

"I was terrified," said June, an older lady from Los Angeles. "Every time he came near the rocks I thought, 'this is it, this is it, we're going to smash on it, that's the end of my life' and then somehow by some miracle, he missed it."

"By about the fourth 360-degree turn I stopped screaming my head off," she said smiling.

"It was very rough and very cold and fantastic! Yeah, magic," said Ross from New Zealand.

And Sue from England described it as, "awesome."

"Fabulous, absolutely great," she said.

Although for some people, shopping might be your "extreme sport" of choice, and Queenstown has plenty of that, but for the more adventurous at heart - New Zealand might be the perfect place to take the plunge, the swing or the ride of your life.

*Original broadcast April 16, 2009.

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Wendy Griffith

CBN News Anchor/Reporter

Wendy Griffith co-anchors CBN Newswatch, a daily 30-minute newscast seen throughout the United States. She also co-anchors Christian World News, which is seen weekly around the world on the Trinity Broadcasting Network. She often anchors the news on The 700 Club.  Follow Wendy on Twitter @WendygCBN and "like" her at Facebook.com/WendyGriffithCBN.