A much-needed day for some, today was the first and only day on the tour that we did not traipse to any ski fields. Today was a day for our own adventures!
We started by getting up early – what’s new – and heading down to the Queenstown Information Centre, ready to be collected for our first activity for the day: horse riding through Glenorchy. I found myself practically skipping there; I’d never ridden a horse before, and couldn’t be more enthused if I tried.
The bus drove us out to Glenorchy and we were met by members of the Dart Stables team, who took us to another bus, and drove us out to their stables property, to be fitted for riding boots, helmets and jackets. My jacket in particular made me feel like I was channeling my inner Judd Nelson in The Breakfast Club. No complaints here. We headed out to the paddocks, and were immediately met by about a dozen of the most gorgeous horses I’d ever seen. The tour morning was brilliantly run; I participated in The River Wild trek, which is a 2-hour journey on horseback through the wintery banks of the Dart River. My horse’s name was Vinnie; he was a charmer and I’m so glad my first horse-riding experience was with such a calm and skilled horse. Our tour leader was telling us that a vast majority of the Dart Stables horses are movie stars, having been part of films like Lord of the Rings, Hercules, and the latest Mission Impossible film – all shot in New Zealand.
One tip I would give to anyone wanting to participate in a Dart Stables trek, is wear thick, warm socks. It seems simple enough, but I was wearing what I thought to be a trek-worthy pair of socks, and my feet were numb with cold within the first fifteen minutes. If you’re like me, and your body temperature runs cold, you’d be smart to even wear two pairs. However, if you forget and head to Glenorchy ill-prepared, the Dart Stables office sells great socks for $5 a pair – tried and tested by yours truly today.
After the horse trek sadly came to a close, we headed back into Queenstown, just in time for our next tour departure. We were off to the Kawarau Bridge Bungy, courtesy of AJ Hackett. I’d spent most of the week preparing myself for this afternoon; I wouldn’t say I have an issue or fear of heights, it’s more a fear of plummeting face-first towards the ground. Regardless, I threw caution to the wind and booked my session anyway, because you only live once, right?
Upon our arrival at the Kawarau Bridge, I felt my stomach churn. All of my mental preparation started to slip away. I faced my fears, though, and headed out to the bridge to start getting ready. That’s when my vision started blurring, I felt incredibly dizzy and I couldn’t hear anything anyone was saying to me. Joy! My first panic attack. How embarrassing. Everyone on the tour knew I was out at the bungy site, and I felt sicker knowing that I’d have to tell everyone I chickened out.
I went back inside to sit down, and realized that at the end of the day, I’d gotten myself out to the site, and pressed on amid my one trivial, yet very real, fear. I forgave myself for not wanting to participate in the bungy, and instead I gave the zipline a crack. It was fantastic! It reaffirmed in me that my fear is more safety-based; I got strapped into the zipline in the ‘Superman’ harness, meaning that I went flying down the hill looking like a total comic book heroine, but I felt totally secured, and not once fearful of my safety. To add to that, there was no headfirst plummeting involved, which thrilled me greatly.
The point of the past few paragraphs is mainly to address any fellow fearfuls out there: it’s okay. It’s totally okay to not want to tear through the air at terminal velocity. Just because others can do it, doesn’t mean you have to! You’re welcome to, you absolutely are. But it’s important on your holiday breaks to not put unwarranted pressure on yourself to do something potentially beyond your means. I had a great time today, even without the bungy, and that’s what matters.
For more information on Haka Tours, click here.
For more information on Dart Stables, click here.
For more information on the Kawarau Bridge Bungy and AJ Hackett, click here.