Monday, April 25, 2005


“When I say GO, we take two steps, and run off the cliff. OK?”

“Uh, yeah, that sounds good. Ummm, then what?”

“Then we’re flying!”

We had been in Queenstown for about 15 minutes before we found ourselves driving to Coronet Peak Ski Area in a van burdened with a crop of hang gliders. That is Queenstown for you. Billed as The Adventure Capital of the World, Queenstown sits on the shores of spectacular Lake Wakatipu. Jagged mountains scratch the sky, while surreal azure lakes reflect an endless blue sky. It looks like a set from Lord of the Rings. Why? Because it was.

If you can name an adrenaline-riddled-adventure-activity, you can do it in Queenstown. Bungy jumping, sky diving, paragliding, fly-by-wire, or hang gliding. Whitewater rafting, jet boating, river surfing, canyoneering, scuba diving, blackwater rafting, or jet skiing. Mountain biking, street luge, climbing, skiing, snowboarding, bouldering, or mountaineering. Queenstown has it all, and promises to get your juices flowing. One walk down Main Street, and you will suddenly wonder how you are going to come up with an extra $150 so someone will let you jump off a 200-foot high bridge with a string tied around your ankles.

With a shortage of extra $100 bills, we decided we had to pick one activity, and one activity only. Bungy? Too mainstream. Jet boating? Too environmentally unfriendly. Canyoneering? Too expensive. Hang gliding? Unique, non-polluting, and semi-affordable. The purest form of flight. Sure, we’ll give it a go.

The next thing we know we are strapped into tandem hang gliders and running off a cliff. Literally. Three steps and we are flying. Thermals rise to give us lift, and we gaze down at a hawk circling below. It is quiet, peaceful, and totally cool.

We glide for close to 20 minutes, and land smoothly on a manicured grass lawn a few kilometers away. We take the controls for a time, and learn the basics of gliding. The flight is smooth and peaceful, but after getting the ok, our pilots threw in some huge banked turns and sharp dives to get the full Queenstown adrenaline experience.

Damn, that’s fun.

Enjoy the Queenstown Photo Gallery.

Enjoy the Queenstown videos:
Scott’s Takeoff.
Crazy Bungy Action.

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