If you’re going to bungee jump, it really should be in the capital of bungee jumping. New Zealand holds that honor, and Auckland has the only ocean bungee jump in the entire country. So naturally…I had to do it.
The jump happens off the Auckland Harbor Bridge and is, operated by AJ Hacket Bungy. (A quick note: American spell it bungee, Kiwis spell it bungy, but it’s pronounced exactly the same way.) It’s an imposing bridge that is visible from most of the city’s waterfront, as it serves as a major commuting vein between two islands. It’s the second largest bridge in New Zealand, and the jump itself is a thrilling 130+ feet jump over the water. For those who really want extra excitement, you can opt to be strapped to a bungee cord that is loose enough to dunk you in the water at the end of your jump…
I did not opt for that. No thank you.
Poko Taripo greeted us at our hotel, M Social, and her enthusiasm was immediate and contagious. Poko works for AJ Hackett, and she’s done every bungee jump in New Zealand (really!) and jumped off the Auckland Harbor Bridge 57 times (really!!). She has a huge perma-smile and a positive, can-do attitude that puts your nerves right at ease. It’s safe to say Poko is a bungee junkie, and she has a pep talk prepared for people who are scared to try it.
“Definitely mind over matter. You can do anything. Once you've done a bungee jump, you can literally do anything. And that is like a perfect way. If you can conquer your fears, you can do anything.” I agree, Poko.
I’m not afraid of heights, and I would generally classify myself as a daredevil, but I was mildly afraid of the idea of flinging myself 130 feet over an ocean. But still, I was curious and wanted to pose the challenge to myself to actually do it. It’s New Zealand, after all. Poko says this is the reason a lot of people bungee jump off the harbor bridge in Auckland.
My day started with a bridge walk ––, a guided tour that takes you inside the bridge, then to the very top of the bridge for stunning views of Auckland. Under your feet, Auckland commuters zip to and fro in their cars, going about their day as usual. You’re strapped in to a harness and attached to the bridge the entire time.
Then came the bungee jump.
I had felt fine the entire length of the bridge walk (it’s quite calming, actually!) but when they walked me to the platform and strapped me to the bungee cord, my fight or flight kicked in. Adrenaline surged through my veins. It goes against every natural instinct to save oneself from harm, so as I stood with my toes dangling over the edge, I had to repeat “mind over matter mind over matter.” They counted me down, and…I jumped. No hesitation, no screaming. I don’t want to make it sound like it was easy - it wasn’t. I was just determined to do it. It’s like ripping off a band aid, or jumping into the cold water. Don’t think, just do it.
I was elated when I completed my jump. Unlike Poko, who said she thinks about what she’s going to eat for lunch on her way down, my mind could not wrap around the fact that I was free falling towards the water. I kept repeating “I did it. I can’t believe I did it!”
Afterwards, you truly do feel bulletproof, like you can tackle anything anyone throws at you. So when the AJ Hackett guys asked if I wanted to do it again, I said yes. But the second time around, I did it backwards.
And yes, it’s just as terrifying as it looks, but man, is it satisfying.
Check out another day on our Auckland adventure, when we spent the day with a Māori family and witnessed a moving cultural event: a first tattoo.