It felt really good not to be moving on to another town after Day 8. Queenstown was proving to be every bit as exciting and fun as it's reputation, but nothing we had done so far would prepare us for the rush of Day 9.
We loaded up the group early and caught the first bus of the day to Shotover Canyon for the adrenaline junky's dream: the canyon swing. And not just any canyon swing, the world's highest canyon swing. 109 meters above the river below (that's close to 400 feet for all you un-metrics our there) with a 60 meter free fall. The rig they use is very similar to a bungee jump, except that the cord isn't attached to a fixed object like a bridge or tower at the top. Instead its suspended from a wire cable that is strung across the canyon, so that as you hit the bottom of the bungee you begin to swing along the cable like an enormous slingshot. Eventually gravity catches up with you and you start swinging back and forth until you settle to a hanging position and they reel you back in. If it sounds crazy, it kind of is.
The crew that works at Shotover Canyon are diligent with their safety precautions but also do a great job of keeping groups relaxed and having fun. You're offered all sorts of jump styles while preparing for your turn, ranging from a simple jump to using props like chairs, tricycles, and ropes. There's really very little you're not allowed to do while jumping off their ledge. One member of our group even took advantage of the naked jump, earning her 2nd jump free of charge.
As far as the feeling you get while taking the leap… it's pretty intense. Free falls are always exhilarating, but I've never fallen for that long with such a lack of control. Usually when you're jumping of cliffs into water you're thinking about your landing. With this you're just trusting that the cable holds you the way it's supposed to.
By the end of our morning, all but one among us had done the swing. We hurried home for a quick lunch then got back on the bus to make our appointment with the Jet Boat pilot. That's right, Jet Boating. This had to be, without doubt, one of the most impressive feats of skill I've ever seen. We were pinning the throttle in inches of water, swerving around boulders and cliff edges, while doing donuts. Obviously these guys are professionals and do this all day long, but I still swore we were going to crash every third turn. I don't really even understand the physics of how we could maneuver in such shallow water. Pair that with the road we had to take just to get to the boat launch (think bolivian death road), and I can't imagine frying a tourists nerves any more.
To round out the day we found a staircase right in the middle of Queenstown and hit a bear crawl, lunge, pushup, sprint workout as a group. Crawling down stairs is always a great way to train the entire body in my opinion, and most Crossfitters haven't ever done it. So I like to throw it in and see the reaction I get. It ended up being one of the toughest WODs of the trip thus far, and had everyone ready to hit the town that night. After everything we'd done that day, I couldn't blame them.