New Zealand highlights by El Chapitan

Hello everyone,

Brian Chap here and this will be my first official TWBR blog entry, and I would like to tell you a little about my experience so far with “the Steve’s”. When traveling generally there are many introductions. You are always meeting people for various reasons, and have to tell people your name over and over again. With us it is funny because the repetition of their names is always double. So occasionally during an introduction a fun interjection is to refer to myself as “not Steve.”

There are very few places that cater so well to the backpacker, tourist, traveler, or explorer as they do here.

When it comes to adventure tourism destinations there is no doubt why New Zealand is the acclaimed capital. This place has just about anything an adrenaline junkie like me could ever dream of “and then some”. The moments of excitement are prolonged due to the islands diversity in natural environment. Even a drive is exhilarating, as you never know what it will look like around the corner. You might leave a tropical beach in the morning and drive through an alpine pass by noon.

On our first adventure activity we went river surfing with “Serious Fun River Surfing”. These guys were great. They made us feel as if we were part of the crew verses just clients. Todays adventure was a journey down the Kawarau River on some boogie boards.

The river is classed from a 1 to a 4 plus.

Now, I have spent a lot of time in and on the water. But I usually had a lot of control in what I was doing.

In this case you are going down some serious rapids on a boogie board “if you’re lucky enough to hold on.” I had such a great time doing this although it did take a little getting used to. After awhile the “Serious Fun” guys had me doing barrel rolls and duck dives through the rapids.

At a couple of the rapids we would stop and ride the face of a wave. It’s pretty hard but with a little coaching I was able to ride a few. It’s weird because it feels like your going really fast. When in actuality you’re sitting still and the river is flowing under you.

The next day we went to the AJ Hackett Kawarau bungy bridge. This is the first commercially operated in the world. It opened in November of 1988 and now jumps an average of 35,000 people a year at this site alone.

This is a 43 meter jump off of a restored 1880s railway bridge.

On my jump today we strapped one of the cameras to my hand to shoot me as I fell.

I really dig the gravity sports. For me as I take the leap it is like my whole body just leaves its tension behind. The further away from the beginning the more peaceful the feeling. It’s not until the recoil that the adrenaline hits my system. From that point on and for awhile it is permagrin time. It would take a lot to wipe the smile off of my face and force the bounce from my step.

Today was like a doublemint day “you know double the pleasure double the fun”. Not only did we go bungy jumping in the morning but we also went on the largest canyon swing in the world.

There are about ten different ways to do this. Anywhere from just jumping forwards, tipping back in a plastic lawn chair until you fall over the edge, being pushed off with a garbage bin over your head, to being hung upside down 109 meters over the rocks below then they release you “that’s what I did, it’s called gimp boy”, just to name a few.

Just to quote another’s felling “even my shit was scared.” That pretty much sums it up.

I don’t even know how to explain how twisted this is…. I love it!

You begin with a 50 meter freefall, another 60 meters in an arch to the lowest point just above the canyon floor. Just when you think you’re going to be a stain on the canyon floor you start to swing up. Wheew!


You end up traveling 200 meters in total.

The wicked thing about it is that you accelerate until you reach the bottom unlike bungy jumping where you are slowing down. Ultimately you reach a top speed of 150kph.


We had thought the next days traveling to Christchurch would be pretty uneventful. Especially after the last two days we just had. Some bad weather had rolled in and as we were making it to Christchurch. The alternator died in the rental car 350 kilometers from where we needed to be that evening. We could barely keep the car running over the pass and it died just as we pulled into the nearest gas station. Fortunately this was the only AAA garage for many miles. We lucked out getting there. Steve B. called the rental company and they wanted us to get the battery charged and drive it the rest of the way.

Huh come again?

Then they said we could get a new battery. Ok, that helps but it won’t get us there.

We wanted to get another one for when the replacement died.

No going, they said we could go heaps of miles on a new battery and we should be able to get to Christchurch. If that didn’t work get another battery on the way and not to use the headlights after dark. Only if a car was coming.

Uhhh, what?

Fortunately as we were backing out of the garage the rental company called to let us take another battery with. The mechanic waved us to stop, gave it to us and sent us on our merry way.

It lasted about half way, we put the other in and it got us to Christchurch.

I think out of all the “scary adventure activities of the last few days.” The thought of missing our flight the next day due to an alternator and sketchy advice was what worried me the most.

But hey it makes for a great travel story. I bet it will pale in comparison to what is to come.

Other than that “and even including” this has been a wonderful beginning to an incredible experience. I’m looking forward to everything I have to observe and offer to make this mission a reality hoping to also entertain and enlighten a few readers along the way.

I really enjoy being part of the team. I love having the opportunity to focus on some of the humanitarian aid organizations and to get my adrenaline fix on the sporting side from time to time as well.

Safe travels, Brian Chap