Jim Kayes has been jumping off things- but he never thought he'd do the Harbour Bridge. Here's how it unfolded.

It started innocently enough.

A friend who lives in Wellington got in touch, asking what we could suggest for her husband, my mate, or so I thought, to do in Auckland to mark his 50th birthday.

I reeled off a list of adventurous options that would thrill but might also terrify.

Advertisement

Jet boating across the harbour made the list, as did mountain biking. But she settled on him bungy jumping off Auckland Harbour Bridge.

I was delighted.

I'm not a timid man. I've jumped off cliffs into the sea, swum in big surf, zip lined through Rotorua's forest, ridden the luge, flown on flying foxes and swung - terrified - in the chair at the Skyline resort in Rotorua.

Even now, firmly in my middle years, I'll give most things a go. But I've never wanted to bungy jump, telling those who suggest it that there's no sense in jumping off a perfectly good bridge.

It's the same with skydiving. Why jump out of a plane that's not about to crash? It's just silly.

When I rang my mate on his birthday we chatted for a bit about how they would be in Auckland a few days and that we would catch up.

He revealed the gift his wife had got him.

"That's awesome," I said with a satisfied chuckle made all the funnier by the fact I was driving over the bridge at the time.

"Yeah he replied. And it's cool you're doing it with me."

I almost crashed as I protested that I wasn't while realising as I spoke that my wife had played a double cross.

Surely there was something in our marriage vows that prevented such treachery.

I knew I was doomed.

"When is this happening? I'll clear my schedule," my eldest daughter, who had already jumped off the bridge with a friend, said.

"It's a long way down," she added, unnecessarily.

The youngest took a dive off the Sky Tower for her 12th birthday and was quick to suggest that if I was "too chicken" she would step in to preserve the family honour.

So there was no wriggling out of taking the plunge - even though it was a commitment others had made for me.

I was fine when we arrived and enjoyed the view as we walked out and under the bridge before popping up to the 'plunge platform'.

That's when the jelly legs began to take over.

I was the first to jump and as I inched toward the end of the platform the guide's reassuring voice did little to assuage my fear.

Looking at the video later confirmed I'd clutched his shorts as he stood beside me.

Earlier my wife had kissed me and noted it was a good thing we had just finished our wills.

I gritted my teeth, took deep breaths and tried not to look down as the guide suggested I let go of his shorts.

He counted down to one and I leaped, surprisingly without hesitation and with a modicum of form.

Apparently, it takes three seconds to plummet the 40 metres. I don't really remember but the bounce back up was pure delight and I roared with a mix of exhilaration and relief.

The rope hadn't snapped. I was alive.

If I have a regret it's that I didn't savour the moment. I could've bounced a few more times before pulling the cord that allows you to sit in the harness, rather than dangle upside down.

It's not often, perhaps never again, that I would swing from the harbour bridge and I should've paused to take it all in.

But I was in a hurry to get my feet back on solid ground.

Safely winched back up I high fived my mate and grinned devilishly.

I had done it.

He still had to jump.

A few days later he rang and we chatted about how cool it had been - and how tough we were.

"So you're 50 next year," he noted. "Let's do that thing in Queenstown where they fire you across a valley. It's called the Nevis Catapult. You shoot 150m and get up to about 100km an hour.

"Or we could skydive...."

He was still talking when I hung up.

• To book your bridge jump, visit bungy.co.nz.