Hang gliding in New Zealand

The wind blew hard and cold on the foggy cliff top. I shivered and hugged the thin windbreaker they distributed to us against my body. Beside me, other people were getting strapped onto their gear.

“Are you ready for this?” an instructor with a thick Australian accent said, walking up to me and offering me an encouraging smile. I gulped. I was definitely not ready for this. In this beautiful country of emerald, grassy meadows dotted with white puffs of sheep, I have decided to go hang gliding.

He must have seen my indecision and fear and he laughed, a booming laugh that echoed around the rough sides of the cliffs.

“It’s not that bad.”

“Yeah right,” I muttered under my breath and eyed the cliff side suspiciously.

“Since you are so sure of this, why don’t we go first?” he teased. My eyes widened. Didn’t he hear what I said? “You can get it over with quicker.”

I contemplated the situation and somehow in the excitement of it all, with adrenaline rushing in my veins, I nodded.

He smiled again and started explaining the basics of hang gliding.

 

“So, in the air, you should hold on to this strap of bag pack, and make your body horizontally flat in the air by stepping on this metal rod and pushing with your feet.”

I nodded numbly as he strapped me onto the structure.

“On the count of 3, I’ll need you to run as hard as you can.” He pointed to the foggy nothingness. Oh god, he means off the cliff!

“3” Wait, I thought

“2” Oh my god

“1” Ahhhhhh, screw it

Disregarding all of my previous worries, I ran like a madman, keeping my eyes squeezed shut. Somewhere in the fifth and sixth step I took, the wind surged past the wings and the strapped hauled us into the air. When I finally opened my eyes, the view from up above hit me like a glass of icy, cold water.

I breathed in deeply as I took in the green hilly area below me. The fog has cleared away, leaving the numerous cliff tops bare and glistening with dew. The forest below us looked jade and inviting.

“Now, find the metal rod.” The voice of my instructor brought me out of my daze.

Suddenly, all my worries of before crashed back into me. Reality hit me like a truck. I was a couple hundred feet above the ground! Reaching for the metal bar I thought was under my foot, I was startled to step on thin air.

“It..it’s not there.” I said, white faced with fear. Thoughts of dropping like a flat meat patty onto the hard forest ground swam in a frenzy around my mind. Instinctively, I looked under myself but that only made it worse. The height only made my heart skip even more beats.

Calm down, it might be tangled somewhere. I thought and once again looked down, this time concentrating on the contraption I’m strapped onto. Spotting the metal cord at last, I pulled on it and it came free. Once I finally stepped onto it, I let out the breath I’d been holding for who knows how long.

Feeling relieved, I turned down to the sceneries. We are much lower now, slowly gliding above the treetops. Sometime in the past minute, the sun had risen, bedazzling the chilly morning. Further away, a crystal blue lake glistened in the sun rays. The scent of pine hit my nose as we went even lower, now barely touching certain branches.

The whoosh of the wind was less definite in my ears, the harsh wind slowed down to a soft breeze as we neared the clearing to land.

I could see my mother standing under a huge tree with her camera flashing.

My dad was beside her, pride shining in his eyes.

We landed with a thump on the ground. Right after I was detangled from the straps, I immediately ran towards everyone and face planted onto the ground.

Getting up with a huge grin, I turned my head upwards to watch the others descend.

 

 


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