So New Zealand turned out to be the most beautiful place I’ve ever been, and aside from some pretty unhelpful airline personnel, the people were more than friendly and helpful. Even though I didn’t get to play as much as I would have liked to, we saw a lot of the South Island and can honestly say there’s nary a bad view in the place. Wendy and the kids absolutely loved it, and we can’t wait to get back someday. (Problem now is I’ve got about 250 pictures to sort and upload and make sense of…)
Of all the places we visited, however, all the beautiful lakes and cliffs and beaches and parks and mountains and gorges, we all agreed that the highlight of the trip was a place called the Adrenaline Forest which is basically an ever increasing in difficulty set of zip lines and wire-climbs strung across a beautiful pine forest culminating in some very hairy highwire walks about 60 feet in the air. Now, this had absolutely nothing to do with New Zealand per se; they have these spots in the States from what I hear. But this was our first encounter, and with the snow capped mountains off in the distance, and the New Zealand birds singing in the branches, it was pretty amazing.
Basically, you get a harness and two carabiner straps one of which has to be hooked onto a wire at all times in case you fall. So as you keep progressing up, you’re constantly clipping and reclipping with the idea that something will always catch you. That’s fine for the lower elevations, but when you get up to Level 5 (which just opened) you’re working on faith. In all, there are over 60 traverses that you have to make, some are zip lines, some are walking on logs, some even more creative. It was really fun…
…until the last level. I mean, it started out ok, but then there were two highwire walks over about a 75-foot span, uphill, that just busted my psyche. I’m not afraid of heights, but these two humbled me. I had several “Oh *$%^, I can’t do this” moments, and in those instances, I felt very old and very scared. Little half-seconds of panic pulsed through me before my brain reeled me in, told me to keep breathing, keep moving, keep going. If you want to get a sense of what it was like, here’s the last 30 seconds or so of the last, long traverse. Listen to my kids (who had already finished like 30 minutes beforehand) cheer me on way down below, and listen carefully to what I say and look at my eyes right at the end.
But here is the thing. As much as I hated those moments, as much as they made me nauseous with fear, I will not soon forget the feeling of pushing through it. Of not getting stuck. Of continuing to move forward, and of sailing through the air on that last, long zip line to the ground. It was a great reminder.
And it’s got me thinking…
(BTW, in case you’re interested, here’s a Wendy-eyed view of one of the zip lines.)
Thank you so much for sharing this with us all.
Pushing past our fears (sometimes without a safety harness) is always a very hard thing to do.
The look of “ohmigosh” and “OHMIGOSH” in your eyes at the was wonderful!
Thank you for another snapshot into your family’s life.
Brian Crosby says
This is how I became a teacher … well sort of. I was a photographer and a friend that ran a outdoor ed camp in the Santa Cruz Mountains in California begged me to come and take publicity shots for a couple of days. A couple of days turned into 5 weeks and then 2 more years. Zip lines, rock climbing, long hikes, rope bridges, making “sleds” out of dead redwood tree branches and having races where each team had to pull a member of their team all the while teaching about the trees and ecosystems and appreciating nature and doing science experiments with creek water … I could go on and on. Needless to say I cancelled my scholarship at Brooks Institute of photography and the rest is “history. : ) REAL messy learning!
I’ve never done a zip line before but I think watching you was fun enough! I have actually hiked where we had to cross a raging river (hubby says it was just a quick moving stream) and had to walk across the wires like you did. Only there was nothing to hold us on the wires and we had no gloves. I ended up hooking my elbow over the top wire and walking across. Another time I did it, I didn’t hook my arm over but I had a death grip on the wire. Of course we probably wasn’t as high as you were but it was scary! Thanks for sharing!
The most courageous thing about this experience that you shared with us, Will, is your willingness to share your fear and vulnerability.
Olga LaPlante says
Funny, I just watched the movie “Into the Wild”, and maybe it’s not quite the same, although I see the underlying theme – finding a way to feel alive. You are really not feeling it when you are grocery shopping, or sometimes you forget to feel it when you are playing with your children, and not all of us feel it when we teach reading rules to a group of 20 kids, but we do certainly feel it after as few as 10 minutes into a hike, and certainly when you are already on top. Helps us appreciate what we have, huh?
Thanks for sharing your experiences, Will. The previous comment says the most courageous thing was that you were willing to share – but I feel it’s the whole point! One has to be vulnerable and overcome it, or it’s not a story, am I right? 🙂
New Zealand Education says
A visit to New Zealand is an opportunity to view spectacular range of landscapes, to decide how to travel around our country may be less important than choosing where you want to go.
simon Bourne says
Wow, what a super experience, I hope that one day I’ll make it out there and see NZ first hand.
Lets hope it stays so unsoilt and beautiful.
Well done on the adrenaline buzz, live life!
I really enjoyed reading about your experiences at The Adrenaline Forrest. I also enjoyed the video that was on youtube. As I was reading I couldnâ€™t help but recall my college experience when I took a course that was required for my major in health and physical education. The course title was adventure based education. West Chester University who offers a program which I believe is second to none in PE came up with the course about 10 years ago and they have added things each year. You start off the semester with team building activity and eventually move into the high ropes course which is the final exam. I learned more about myself and my classmates during that semester than any other course or class I have ever been a part of. I am sure you experienced a lot of the same feelings whether good or bad, proud or scared that I experienced. The sense of accomplishment after something like that can only be done first hand; I donâ€™t think there are any words that can describe it. I plan to look more into The Adrenaline Forrest and I hope some day I have the opportunity to do something like this again.