Disability no limit for youth on Queenstown adventure
Blog by: Matt Alpe
Over four action-packed days in one of New Zealand’s most stunning locations in Queenstown, nine youth with disabilities from Auckland and Christchurch truly pushed their limits and overcame their fears. This journey proved that an intellectual disability is no obstacle to achieving greatness. The main attraction on this adventure was the AJ Hackett Bungy and Zip Ride located in the Kawarau Valley.
Recreates ‘Seeking Summits’ are premier adventures for youth to enjoy unforgettable journeys. Previougs high-end adventures have included white water rafting on the Rangitata River, snow caving in the Southern Alps, sea kayaking in the Marlborough Sounds and black water caving in Waitomo.
After months of anticipation, the Recreate participants and leaders teamed up at the Auckland Airport and started their journey with the friendly Jetstar crew. They flew down to Christchurch to meet up with two more participants, and started the drive to Queenstown through the Southern Alps. The conversation was themed around the daring task ahead, as no one in our group had taken the leap before. Many questions were asked, and the leaders were happy to assure and reassure the youth, as well as themselves. As they crew arrived in Queenstown after the big drive, the infamous Ferg Burger came to the rescue with a great feed. There was a lot of buzz around being in Queenstown, as many of the crew had never been to this beautiful part of the country before. Once the group settled in to the accommodation, the day came to a close.
The next day was bungy day, and with a 10am booking the group was very excited to get stuck in and give it a go. As they spotted the Kawarau bridge and bungy centre from the road there were lots of ohhs and ahhs. On arrival Recreate were warmly welcomed by all the staff, and before they knew it the guys were signing in and going through the safety briefing. Firstly, 5 youth enjoyed the 130m zip ride which is a brand new offering for AJ Hackett Bungy. After being pulled back up to the launching platform, the guys were buzzing with excitement. This ride was a perfect fit for the participants who felt the bungy was a bit too much for them.
What happened next was truly inspiring and incredible, the 43m Kawarau Bungy. Hayley was first up, and with the rest of the group watching on from the viewing platform, she jumped with confidence and without hesitation. She let out screams of terror and delight as she bobbed up and down before landing safely in the raft below. Next up was Rebecca, who just like Hayley took the leap with great speed and confidence. Kris then stepped up to the edge and continued the theme of no hesitation.
Recreate leaders Matt and Amber had planned to go first to lead by example, but as it happened they had seen the example themselves! Katie from Christchurch was up next, and she did so well to get the harness and leg strap on, and also to step onto the platform above the river below. The jump proved to much, but Katie is confident about giving it a go in the future. All the pressure was now on Matt and Amber to complete the jump with all eyes on the ‘model examples’. As it turned out, Matt was a complete wreck with his fear of heights. However he somehow stood at the edge, and nervously took the leap. Amber is a professional thrillseeker who loves the adrenalin, and she couldn’t keep the smile off her face. The rest of the crew cheered the guys on from the viewing platform and they all celebrated over their achievement together.
The crew ran back into the Kawarau Bungy centre to view their videos and photos with plenty of laughter. After thanking the great team at AJ Hackett Bungy, it was time to take off for lunch back at the house. The van ride back to Queenstown was raucous, with a whole bunch of ‘I can’t believe we just did that’ statements. After a good feed, it was time to take off again to see the incredible sights and sounds up the Remarkables range. The guys jumped out of the van at the ski field base for an impromptu snowball fight. For some of the youth it was the first time they had played in the snow and what better place to experience it. As the sun was setting the crew swung past the Queenstown hot pools for a soak in the spa and a play on the hydroslides. Then it was back to the house for a hearty meal and a movie. Just another action packed day in the books for the Seeking Summits crew.
Day three consisted of the morning strolling around the town shops and the markets, followed by a scenic trip out to Glenorchy and on to Paradise. Many photo opportunites ensued, along with a coffee stop for Matt. After the massive day before, the group enjoyed to slow things down a bit and take a breath. That evening the All Blacks 2nd Day four required an early start as the group had to pack up, clean up and get on the road just after breakfast in order to make the drive back to Christchurch. The Aucklander’s had to then jump on the plane to return to the big smoke. The youth were still buzzing when their parents picked them up at the airport, and we are sure they will never forget this adventure.
Thank you to AJ Hackett for the support you have shown Recreate NZ and the awesome youth who attend our programmes.
“I had a great time in Queenstown, the whole trip was fantastic. The leaders were awesome supporters and made the trip lots of fun. The bungy jump for me was the highlight of the weekend. At the start I didn’t think I’d be brave enough to jump but when I did I felt like I had achieved a goal. It felt amazing. I’m looking forward to the next weekend away, when are we going?” – Rebecca Swasbrook