Long car journeys as a passenger, too much red wine and chocolate and male rock singers wearing codpieces.

They make me nauseous.

But it is heights that truly churn my stomach.

As a 5-year-old, an old Puriri tree in grounds of Kaurihohore School was my nemesis.
I would freeze, my feet barely off the ground. Fast forward to the present day and the fear is still there.


So when I found myself in the South Island recently, funnily enough not long after reading AJ Hackett's autobiography, I thought what better way to confront my fear of heights than throwing myself off a perfectly good bridge.

I chose the 43m drop off the Kawarau Bridge, into the river of the same name.
Feel the fear and do it anyway, I reckoned.

This bungy site is The Original, the site of the world's first commercial bungy operation.
It's a site that retains Hackett's name even though he is no longer hands-on with people who jump off.

I could have gone for a 100m plus eight-second free fall as my first bungy jump, but I believe I would have wet my pants on the descent.

As it was, I ended up wetting my head and T-shirt off the Kawarau Bridge, but that was due to being dunked in the river rather than any sudden expulsion of bodily fluids.

So, about 2.30pm in the afternoon on an apparently quiet day, I had two numbers written on me by an effervescent, chatty young woman.

One number was my weight and the other #109. Sadly, not too much difference between the two numbers.

I can only deduce that 109 was the number of people who had jumped that day, off the bridge's two platforms, at $155 to $205 a drop.


It could also prove useful in identifying my body, if it was swept downstream.

The other number, I am too embarrassed to mention.

Let's just say I appear to be in a "fat Elvis" stage of my life, based on the unflattering bungy video my wife took.

She definitely has a metric video camera on her phone because the camera unkindly added 10kg, not 10 pounds.

Earlier, standing on the bridge in an unflattering nylon harness, a mate stood nearby on the bridge, grinning, his camera at the ready.

Our wives were a safe distance away on a platform, mine with her metric camera poised.
A young man in front of me leapt off with, sorry if you are reading this, a shrill, effeminate scream.

I looked down. It did not feel good. So I did not look down again.
I eased myself down on to a platform adjacent to the jumping area.

The jump master was chatting away, wrapping a towel around my legs.
"Where are you from? Is this your first bungy?"

The same chirpy questions that the young lady who had written on my hands on asked me. I mumbled the same answers. I really didn't feel like chatting.

Mentally, I had decided to compartmentalise the stages of the jump, go through the motions, not look down again and place my life in the hands of this grinning adventure sadist also known as a jump master.

I instigated one piece of conversation: "Does it have to be Whitney Houston?", referring to the loud music blaring from a boom box.

"Good reason to jump off mate," grinned the jump master.

It was time to stand up and shuffle to the edge of the platform. A handle screwed to the side of the platform seemed to have a hand firmly attached to it.

It was mine.

"I'm going to need you to let go of that buddy," said the jump master.

I did. He gave a chirpy speech about the company video camera I needed to look at, so that, after extracting the pride from my dangling body, they could empty my wallet a little more.

I didn't want to look, staring at the horizon, I wanted to get it over with.
Arms outstretched, I was counted down ... 3, 2, 1. Jump!

I leaned forward and slowly, and silently, toppled 43m.

Was there an adrenaline rush? No, I tend to enjoy the sense of achievement rather than scream and punch the air.

I regard high-fives as an Americanism that has poisoned other cultures - they make me almost as nauseous as egotistical rock stars in codpieces.

Upside down, disorientated, the only rush was an H20 one - my head dunked in the river, flushing my sinuses and blocking one ear.

The video shows that I gracefully dropped, splashed into the river and then ascended, arms outstretched, still and statue-like as I peaked at the top of my rebound arc, and fell again.

My arms stayed frozen in the same outstretched position I had started with.

If I exuded calmness it was accidental, although being temporarily deaf in one ear may have assisted with a partial state of serenity.

Still, I had felt the fear and done it anyway. I'm not sure I would do another one.