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In free fall, and simply loving it

After you've swung 400 meters above Queenstown, all other adventure sports will seem tame in comparison

travel Updated: Nov 28, 2010 21:16 IST

As a child, I remember competing aggressively with the kid on the swing next to mine at the local playground -- who could go higher? The reward may have been as measly as bragging rights for the next 10 minutes, but it was fiercely contested nonetheless. 

If I was still competing in those juvenile contests, I may just have sealed the win on a recent trip to Queenstown. At 400 meters above the city, the Ledge Sky Swing is higher than any other in the world. It's also faster, longer and far more daunting, but that's what you expect from New Zealand.

The tiny island country is the adventure capital of the world. A majority of the brochures you pick up when you land at the airport are filled with information on skydiving, bungee jumping, white water rafting and jet boating.

A walk around Queenstown reveals that there are more shops serving as booking offices for adventure sports than there are for, well, shopping. Since the hub of the city is small and easily navigable, practically everything is just around the corner. The famed swing though, can only be reached via gondola, and the sheer distance to the top of the mountain makes it a longer-than-average ride.

Once atop, the view is nothing short of spectacular. The height of the trees and azure of the sea are what strike you first. What you don't realise is that they will both seem ridiculously obscure when you take the leap.

Preparing for the plunge is a task in itself. Meticulous safety measures take up a good 10 minutes. Instructions follow. The brave and the fearful can now be told apart - the former are restless to start, while the latter tightly clutch their harness, or the poor guy who helped them wear it.

The Ledge Sky Swing is like a modified bungee jump. You release yourself from the highest point, and trigger off 3-4 oscillations at mind-blowing speed. Tugging at the release pin provides the much-needed shock to my nerves, which have been astonishingly calm till this point. When I manage to pull off the stubborn pin, I plummet downwards, headlong. Before I can react, I'm already sailing into the sky, defying gravity and the extra kilos I've piled on during the trip. As if to tease me, I'm drawn backwards just as I'm getting used to the flight. The swing can't go higher. The adrenaline rush is unrivaled.

Anything else you attempt thereafter, will seem like a joyride. New Zealand's homegrown Zorb, the globe riding sport, seems childish in comparison. Adventure sports seem more and more tame. From swinging at a playground to swinging from a mountain top, life has come full circle.

The Sky Swing costs $90 (Rs 3,118) for children and $100 (Rs 3,465) for adults.
Email for details.

First Published: Nov 28, 2010 21:16 IST