Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Day 4: Zipping through the Trees, Jumping into Canyons, and Some Redwood Trees

Friday, March 13

We spent Friday the 13th experiencing some of the best of the adrenaline and adventure that New Zealand has to offer!  

Make-a-Wish had arranged for us to start the day at the Rotorua Canopy Tours….an awesome zip lining tour through a native New Zealand forest!  

We had done an adventure ropes course last summer in Asheville, so really we weren't  nervous at all about zipping around in the trees 72-feet above the ground.  In fact, even Adam and Ellie happily jumped right in (or off the edge as the case may have it) without even a moment's hesitation.  

The ziplining itself was pretty exhilarating, but honestly I enjoyed the walking and the guides teaching us about the native New Zealand forest almost as much.

We learned a lot about the 500-year-old trees we were standing in and the danger to the unique forest ecology that small land mammals (like possums, stoats, rats, etc) were posing.   Because of the geographical isolation of NZ, ecologists estimate that up to 90% of native wildlife and plant life found there is endemic, meaning that it can be found only in New Zealand, and nowhere else in the world.

Being avid birdwatchers, we loved seeing the different variety of birds that resides on the other side of the world.    Being in the middle of the forest, we actually saw some pretty cool birds along the way (that the guides told us all about).   

All in all, other than the lack of bathroom facilities along the way, it was an enjoyable morning that we would happily repeat….at a course closer home or back in New Zealand.  :)

After zip lining was done, we drove about an hour south to beautiful Taupo, New Zealand to try what was one of Spencer's most anticipated activities of the whole trip….bungee jumping!    The first commercial  bungee jumping operation in the world was founded in New Zealand and Spencer latched onto this idea that bungee jumping was one of the quintessential items he needed to cross off his bucket list while we were there!  

Spence talked Cami, Emma, and Glen into joining him in his venture, but there was no way on earth Ellie, Adam, or I were going to have anything to do with it.     I think Adam potentially could have been talked into it after having watched everyone else do it safely, but by that time it was too late and     Ellie and I were perfectly content to watch from the sidelines, pet the resident cat, and ponder over the American vs. New Zealand way to spell bungee (or bungy)!

We had the option of a couple of different places to bungee jump, but ultimately picked Taupo Bungy based on the spectacular setting.  The scenery is classic New Zealand and absolutely gorgeous.  Poised 154-feet over the Waikato River, it was hard not to be enchanted by the beauty of this location! 

Spencer wasn't looking much at the scenery though,  was excited to get the jumping started!   He was really happy to be there and didn't even seem all that nervous beforehand.  He had hoped to be able to dip into the water a bit at the bottom, but because of the strength of bungee cords they had to use for his weight, he never did touch on either jump and you can hear his dismay at just missing it!

Cami volunteered to be the next one to take the plunge (literally and figuratively), but you can see in this video how incredibly nervous she was.   She missed touching the water in her first jump.

Emma went next and definitely had the best scream of the day!  I could hear her loud and clear even from across the ravine where I was standing with Ellie and Adam.  She was the only one to touch the water on both of her jumps.

Glen went last and was the one that got the best spin going.

Taupo Bungy (the New Zealand spelling) offered a significantly reduced rate for 2nd jumps, so Emma, Cami, and Spence all opted to try one more time.   Spencer's 2nd jump looks pretty much the same as his first jump.  Emma went off backward, did a lot less screaming in her second jump, but otherwise it is mostly the same.  Cami's 2nd jump, however, was pretty spectacular.   Not only did she barely look nervous, but she went off backwards, AND touched the water.    She's practically a bungee jumping expert now!

Here are some more crazy pictures of them….

After all that expenditure of adrenaline in one day, we needed somewhere a little more relaxing to finish off the day.  I had read in the guidebooks about some New Zealand redwood forests and found that there was one right on the way back to our lodging for the night.    We stopped there and were immediately taken in by the peacefulness and quiet beauty that lay there.  

The redwoods were planted in the 1800's by settlers who intended to use them for lumber, so they weren't quite as large or as grand as the behemoth redwoods in California that are thousands of years old, but they were breathtaking nonetheless. 

The wending path through the trees proved to be the ideal way to end an intense day...

…and sealed the deal for falling in love with this beautiful country!


Jennifer McArthur said...

I can't believe you're not even all the way through the trip yet! This is absolutely incredible! I am delighted that you all got to make these special memories together! Wow! Just wow! Can't wait to see what's still to come!

Charlene said...

Wow!! My heart jumped just watching them bungee jump!! Brave family! Looks like so much fun....for my kids....not me!!

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