When I heard of a zip lining attraction near Petty Harbour in St. Johns Newfoundland, I was more than excited to sign up! After having had the opportunity to skydive, I thought I could take on any height in the pursuit of adventure.
After a twenty minute cab ride to Petty Harbour, I was instructed that I would be the only person on this tour at 6 p.m. Naturally, I was extremely pleased as I often enjoy taking time to photograph my experiences and that can be extremely difficult with a tour director that is time conscious. In Italy, for example, my guide was not pleased with my selfie-photoshoots at every cobble-stone alleyway. However, the tour guides of NZ Zip Line were actually extremely complacent with my photo habit and in fact asked if they could take some photos of me while zipping! Naturally, I said yes!
Climbing up what seemed to be 60 feet of a wood-laid down path, I felt as though I had successfully made it to the top of a beautiful look-out in St. Johns that perhaps most tourists do not have the opportunity to view. I had a birds-eye view of the habour, the wind-ripped Atlantic, and a way off in the distance blackhead mount. I took a deep breathe and let the 60 km per hour winds roar around me. I was told by the instructors that normally when winds reach 70 km, that they do not zip because, depending on which direction you are going, the wind can act as an inhibitor and leave you stranded in the middle of the line.
Luckily for me, the instructor told me that to combat the winds, we could go in tandem on the much more lengthier lines to avoid “coming up short.” A practice line is the first of eight. It is rather short in length but really gets your adrenaline flowing. You learn how to break or at least the premise of how to break. When you are a novice at zip-lining, the concept of stopping yourself with your hand becomes slightly daunting. The only thing I could think of was that I may accidentally put my hand in front of the steel wheel and then I won’t ever have that hand anymore. As instructed, you should always put your hand behind your gear, wear strong gloves (which are provided) and a leather breaker (also provided). The concept was one I did not master until the 6th line and then totally forgot about by the 7th.
You are to put slight pressure on the line with your right hand; definitely not tap the line; but make a “C” formation with your hand to cause just enough friction to slow you down. If you fail to slow yourself, a really nice man, will have a series of knots tied at the end of the line so that you do not fly into the wooden pillar. Although you may feel as though you are going to hit the pillar, they are nice enough to smile at you and say “your coming in hot… but I got you!”
By the 6th line, I really was pro. I slowed myself enough to be able to take in the amazing view! The pines were so lush and green and everything below looked so miniature. The fear of my harness not being tight enough subsided and the constraint of the harness, I had tightened by the instructor more than once, took over. Only later would I realize that some slack would have been favoured as a large purple bruise formed along the outline of my harness.
By the 7th line, I was travelling at a much faster speed and of course forgot everything I had learned and barrelled into my “catcher.” His pleasant chuckle had me laughing at myself and apologizing sincerely for not being able to master the lesson.
At the 8th line, any hesitation, fear of falling, or impending doom was gone and I was slightly sad that there was not “just one more” line. As we made our way down to the bus to shuttle back to our starting point, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of accomplishment for being able to tackle a line that was over 1 km in length and approximately 200 feet above the ground. Zip-lining is definitely something worth while to do in St. Johns and something that has not only taught me to laugh at myself but also to keep learning.