In August 1998 my 10-year-old son and I visited my friend and her family in Invercargill which is situated on the south coast of the South Island of New Zealand. The country around the town (now city) is exquisite and includes the famous beach where the movie, the Fastest Indian, was shot.

We drove to Queenstown by the infamous Devils Highway which follows the edge of a lake for many miles, without the benefit of guard rails. Queenstown is no doubt, the most beautiful town on the planet and is surrounded by amazing scenery and activities.

Unknown to me a plan was being hatched for me to participate in the famous Triple Challenge.

The Shotover Jet

Near Queenstown, on the Shotover River, my son and I and her children were bundled into a  jet boat. Being used to racing boats I was still not prepared for the exhilaration that followed. The speed of the boat and the very low temperature almost froze our brains.

Up-river we travelled very fast and touched many single banks as we negotiated tight terms.

Downriver we sped very close to many huge boulders at breakneck speed. Obviously, the drivers were paid to scare the hell out of us.

The hour-long ride ended back in front of the base. and finished with a number of spins that soaked us all in freezing water.

The children and I loved the experience but little did I know that it was just the beginning.

The Bungee Jump

Later we arrived at A J Hacket’s Shotover River facility on an old bridge where I was told that I could do my first bungee jump. I said that I had no intention of doing so until I was pulled aside by my friend who whispered to me, “I won’t think you’re a woos if you don’t.”

Minutes later I was laying on my back being strapped to a very long and extremely heavy bungee cord which the attendants kept repeating was too old and needed to be replaced. I was then stood up, waddled to the edge of the precipice, and told to smile and wave to the crowd.

The attendants told me that I would jump when they said “three.” When I looked at the river 200 feet below I was not happy and did not know if I could do it. But when they called  “three” I jumped. The frightening thing was not the jump but the falling, knowing that I could not get back.

The jump ended gently with much upside down bouncing, a victory scream from me, and a cry from my son who, I think, was happy to see me waving (captured on video on my Facebook page.)

I think that most of the crowd were happy that I had survived however I knew that there was one challenge to come.

White Water Rafting

The next day a number of us were bundled into two small helicopters for a trip up the river. The flight was very exciting as the helicopters flew at a very low level close to the river and on the sharp turns between the river cliffs, the helicopter was completely on its side.

We landed on a shingle beach where we donned our wetsuits and received a detailed safety briefing. That briefing provided that if someone opposite you on the raft fell out then it was your duty to get them back in. We set off in the freezing river and successfully descended a number of rapids.

Then, of course, the very large man opposite me fell out with his back on the water, legs in the raft, and head screaming past vicious rocks. Without knowing what else to do I scrambled across the raft, braced my knees, and gradually pulled him back into the raft.

The rest of the trip was extremely exciting as we descended large rapids and were constantly deluged with freezing water. The last few hundred meters were frantic when we entered a man-made tunnel and traveled about 300 in complete darkness.

It was clearly the greatest challenge of my life and brought me opportunities that none of us can ignore.