A group of residents from Ryman Healthcare’s Keith Park Retirement Village have braved the Sky Jump and perimeter walk at Auckland’s Sky Tower.
The thrill-seeking residents, who have a combined age of 701, faced the threat of yet more rain on a grey, cloudy Auckland day to jump from New Zealand’s tallest building.
Six residents signed up for the jump, which is a controlled descent from 192m, and three decided to do the walk, where a group of like-minded adrenalin junkies walk around the perimeter platform with no handrails separating them from the 53-storey drop!
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Helen Lane, 74, had the initial idea after the village team surveyed residents for activity ideas as part of Ryman's enhanced resident experience initiative. Helen said she’d even heard there could be health benefits from doing such an activity.
“I have always been intrigued that I have been strongly drawn to walk to the edge of a steep rise and look over the side and decided I needed to do something about it,” said Helen.
“And I had also read somewhere that an adrenalin rush is good for the health.
“But at the village meeting calling for activity ideas I was alarmed to hear myself requesting the challenge!”
Helen said doing it with the others was a great encouragement.
“Being in a group you feel like you’ve got to do it!” she said.
And when they learned that on average about half the people chicken out at the top, their 100% jump rate gave them an added boost.
There were a few jokes about spouses increasing their partner’s life insurance policies before Ralph Martin, 76, volunteered to take the first jump.
He took it all in his stride and was grinning from ear to ear on landing. “I’m here!” he said.
Helen Lane has no regrets after suggesting the bungy jump as a village activity.
Helen was next, who couldn’t believe how quickly it took to get to the bottom.
“It happened so quickly I thought I have got to make the most of this,” she said. “But I closed my eyes at first! I’m so rapt I did it!”
Next up was Trevor Whyte, 75, who had been wanting to do something special for his 75th birthday who made sure to keep his eyes open the whole time.
John Bennett, 75 and pictured at top, discovered he was doing the jump only after his friend Ian put his name down, and described it as ‘a bit of a buzz’.
“I bought a ticket for a bungy because that was on my bucket list,” he said.
Graham Booth, who at 83 was the most senior of the jumpers, caused quite a stir at the start of his jump.
Graham Booth certainly put the thrill into his thrill seeking!
“The guy said ‘let go, let go’ so I did, but I only let go with one hand!” said Graham.
After hanging on for a couple of seconds he finally let go with his other hand.
And while it prompted gasps from the watchers gathered below, it hasn’t put him off one bit.
“I’d do it again!” he laughed.
For retired RNZAF engineer Ian Curtis, 81, the last jumper of the group, it was a return to the skies of sorts, but a very different kind of flight, and one which certainly got the heart pumping!
“My doctor told me I wasn’t allowed to do the bungy where they strap it around your ankles but I was okay to do this one,” he said.
Former air force man Ian Curtis smiles after taking to the skies again
John's done the jump, and now he's got the t-shirt!
The Sky Jump is a controlled descent which sees the jumpers free fall at 85kph for 11 seconds while connected by wires.
All six commented on how fast that 11 seconds seemed to go.
The boost of adrenalin on landing made a couple of the jumpers feel a little shaky on their feet at first.
Helen’s answer? “I need a coffee!” she laughed.
Peter and Wendy Peacock with Bob Lane (right) ready to do the Sky Walk (below)
The remaining three residents, Wendy and Peter Peacock, 70 and 80, and Helen’s husband Bob Lane, 78, then got suited up to do the Sky Walk.
For some, this is actually the more thrilling activity of the two, as it means being at a great height with no barrier for a lot longer.
While it is still perfectly safe, with walkers attached to a harness and zip line, the adrenalin still pumps around the body nonetheless.
Wendy admitted it was quite terrifying and her smile for the camera was more of a grimace.
“It was very windy and cold up there, and I was glad when it was over!”