New Zealand, known as the Land of the Long White Cloud, has some of the most diverse environments on earth, from beaches and rainforests to mountains, lakes, glaciers and volcanoes. With the help of travel experts, Podcast Producer Kim Napier and World Nomads' Phil Sylvester, find out why New Zealand has scuba diving worth traveling for, and the importance of being prepared when tramping.
They’ll speak with the Godfather of adrenalin, AJ Hackett Bungy co-founder, Henry Van Ash.
Hear the story of the Australian guy who has bungy jumped his way around the world.
And only got time for a seven-day camper van road trip? What are the must do’s, places to see and tips on where to eat?
00.08 - Welcome
02.07 - Phil’s Quiz Question
02.47 - World Nomads commissioned Andy Magnus to write about Fiordland, one of the most dramatic and beautiful parts of New Zealand.
“…I'm a big fan of New Zealand in general. I think that there are many wonderful and beautiful parts of New Zealand, but I am partial to Fiordland and as far as pure wilderness goes, it really doesn't get much better.” – Andy Magnus
“…it definitely is diving worth crossing the world for. Jacque Cousteau, rated it one of the top ten dive sites in the world ... I'm not gonna argue with him. He's a legend.” – Kate Malcolm
20.38 - The Godfather of adrenalin and co-founder of AJ Hackett Bungy, Henry Van Ash.
“…we really work hard to get people to do it. We know there's a lot of fear involved, most people are scared. When they have done it, they are a hero.” – Henry Van Ash
27.20 - Phil’s Travel News
29.45 - Waylon Murphy, the Australian guy who has bungy jumped his way around the world.
34.42 - Quiz answer
35.50 - What's next in Episode 8?
World Nomads contributor Andy Magnus talks about tramping in the Fiordland.
Kate Malcolm from Dive Tutukaka, New Zealand's premiere full-service dive charter operator servicing the Poor Knights Islands.
Co-founder of AJ Hackett Bungy, Henry Van Ash.
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Explore your boundaries and discover your next adventure with The World Nomads Podcast. Hosted by Podcast Producer Kim Napier and World Nomads Phil Sylvester, each episode will take you around the world with insights into destinations from travelers and experts. They’ll share the latest in travel news, answer your travel questions and fill you in on what World Nomads is up to, including the latest scholarships and guides.
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Announcer: The World Nomads Podcast. It's not your usual travel podcast. It's everything for the adventurous independent traveler.
Kim: Welcome again to our podcast delivered by World Nomads, the travel insurance and lifestyle brand covering more than half a million travelers. It's nice to be with you in 2018. My name is Kim.
Phil: And I'm Phil and in Episode Seven, we're exploring New Zealand.
Kim: Yes. Now New Zealand for Australians is a hop, skip and a jump away. Literally, it's a three or four-hour flight from Sydney. But it's a [00:00:30] much, much longer flight if you're traveling from Europe or the U.S. For our listeners there we had to really ask ourselves, didn't we, "Why New Zealand?"
Phil: You sounded like Carrie Bradshaw then. "So, I had to ask myself, why is New Zealand so far away?
Kim: Why is it so far away, Phil?
Phil: Yes, indeed. Look, a few things that come up. Firstly, the South Island has been referred to as having Switzerland-like qualities. It's got fields and mountains and what have you. Nothing much there can kill you. No venomous snakes, [00:01:00] no lethal spiders and no crocodiles like we have her in Australia. Napier has the biggest collection of art deco buildings in the world along with South Beach in Miami, so very similar. There are some of the most diverse environments on Earth from beaches with black sand, some of them by the way, and rainforests, mountains, lakes, glaciers, and they've even got a volcano.
Kim: And it's not Australia.
Phil: No. With a land area the size of Great Britain, yet with only four and a half million people, you don't have to go far to find [00:01:30] complete solitude in New Zealand.
Kim: Actually, in this episode, we will chat to a World Nomads contributor who talks exactly about that, Phil, and what it's like to walk some of the most isolated spots in the world. We'll speak with Kate Malcolm from Dive Too Too Ka Ka, which is New Zealand's premier full-service dive charter operator and New Zealand, of course, is home of the Bungee, another reason to cross the world and we're so thrilled to speak with one of the godfather's of adrenalin and co founder of AJ Hacket Bungee Henry Van Ash. Plus Whalen, [00:02:00] who set himself the challenge to bungee jump around the world. But in each World Nomad podcast, we kick off with Phil's Quiz Question.
Phil: Plenty of mountains, peaks and bloody big hills in New Zealand.
Kim: Hasn't it got the biggest, in fact, I've walked it, the longest or steepest street in the world?
Phil: Yes, one of those, yes.
Kim: Yeah, something like that.
Phil: Yes, absolutely. Anyway, plenty of peaks in New Zealand. Many of them are over 3,000 meters high. Which ones? Name ... no, I'm kidding.
Kim: What, you want us to name them all?
Phil: No, how many of them are over [00:02:30] 3,000 meters? That's a pretty tall mountain. How many have they got over 3,000 meters? The answer later on.
Kim: Well, World Nomads commissioned Andy Magnus to write about Fiordland, which is one of the most dramatic and beautiful parts of New Zealand and we've got Any on the line now.
Andy: Hey, guys.
Kim: Is that a pretty accurate description, one of the most dramatic and beautiful parts of New Zealand?
Andy: I would say yes. I'm a big fan of New Zealand in general. I think there [00:03:00] are many wonderful and beautiful parts of New Zealand, but I am partial to Fiordland and, yeah, as far as pure wilderness goes, it really doesn't get much better.
Phil: Fiordland I take it it's great big rivers and steep sided cliffs, then.
Andy: Yeah. It is New Zealand's largest national park and it's a pretty remote place. So there are lots of rivers and steep-sided peaks, just like you mentioned, and Alpine lakes and Alpine scenery [00:03:30] as well as bush scenery and jungles and it's a pretty rugged place. The thing about Fiordland is that much of it is very inaccessible unless you're really adventurous or have air or water support.
Kim: So what is the best way to explore it with all those options?
Andy: Well, I mean that's tricky, obviously a lot of it depends upon your, let's say adventuring [00:04:00] cred kind of. How capable are you on your own? And that's one of the reasons it's so unexplored. Because if you venture off of the planned tourist activities, which we kind of talk a little bit about in the piece I wrote, then you need to have some capabilities in terms of camping skills, what we call in New Zealand tramping. You know, tramping skills. [00:04:30] And things like that. You basically have to be able to look after yourself in the wilderness. Otherwise, Milfa Road, Milford Cruises, Dusky Sound. That will sound as kind of planned, prepackaged things, but, if you're keen, there's quite a bit of other stuff you can do out there.
Phil: Yeah, well, we're World Nomads, we're pretty keen for that sort of stuff. We like getting off the beaten track. I take it there's gotta be a fair bit of safety. Like you said, you gotta be able to look after yourself. But there are safety concerns as well?
Andy: [00:05:00] There are and I think that's the trickiest thing for visitors coming to the area. And I know that, from a management standpoint, the Department of Conservation, which manages the Park, their biggest concern, or one of their biggest concerns, is with visitor safety. And truth be told, we're talking about 99% of tourists that come, all they're looking for is to look at the stunning beauty [00:05:30] basically through a glass house. You got a boat and you're looking through a pane of glass. You're on a bus, you're looking through a pane of glass. And that's what most people that come down here are happy with and what they want to take away. But, for the World Nomad demographic, if you want something else, the region, unfortunately, has a lot to offer those people, but it's not as simple to find those sorts of trips. There's [00:06:00] plenty of them. But because the Department is worried, if the wrong people go off track, if the wrong people do some of these hikes, then there's just gonna be a lot more injuries and fatalities and issues like that. So it is a pretty serious environment.
Kim: So when you say a pretty serious environment and there are obviously safety concerns, is that just because of how steep it is in parts or how thick the bushland is or the jungle, I think you used that term early on in the chat.
Andy: Yeah so [00:06:30] it's a combination of those things. For example, one of my favorite hikes that I talked about in the piece I wrote was Gertrude Saddle. Now Gertrude Saddle is one of these that has very accessible from a road end. It's easily done in a day. And so it is getting more popular. But there are sections on Gertrude Saddle, for example, that go up some sheer rock slabs that there's often a cable that you can hold onto [00:07:00] and climb up. But for example, if you went up there and then it started raining and you're going on your return trip, even though there's a cable there, you're hand over handing your way down on a cable on wet rock slabs. And if you're just looking at this as a day hike and can't manage yourself in an Alpine environment, then that's a significant risk. That's an example.
Phil: When you're out at those places, obviously you're out there on your own. It's pretty rare to get a place in the world these days where you, [00:07:30] you're so isolated. It must be amazing.
Andy: It is and it did take a little bit of getting used to. I'm from the States and I've done a lot of hiking and climbing and adventuring over there. But one of the jobs I got when I first came to [inaudible 00:07:46] was working for the Department of Conservation or contracting with them to do pest control, and I get dropped by helicopter at the top of these remote valleys on my own, not with a partner, and spend the entire day walking down [00:08:00] a remote valley on a very roughly cut track, rebating these tracks. The first time I did it, man I just, crossing rivers up to my waste and not really having anybody telling me, "This is gonna be okay." I really had to draw on a lot of my wilderness experience to a level that I wasn't really thinking I was gonna have to just for this job. And there's a lot of people down here, in Fiordland and Southland who are just regular users [00:08:30] of the wilderness. So the level of skill from the locals is fairly high compared to anywhere I've ever been.
Kim: Such a beautiful part of the world. And, as Andy suggests, make like a Boy Scout and be prepared. We will have a link to his article in our show notes. But right now, time to check in with our World Nomads.
Speaker 5: Actually, the best thing for me about traveling is meeting new people. The main thing for me to come to Australia. The first thing for me was to improve my English.
Speaker 6: I'm from Wales. [00:09:00] I'd say mostly it's meeting new people, new experiences. Yeah, having a good time and enjoying life.
Speaker 7: I actually just got back from Japan about two weeks ago and I'm about to head to the states in two weeks.
Speaker 8: Visit everything because, like you can meet all the new people and can learn all of the things and can see all the new places and everything, so yeah.
Speaker 9: My favorite place was Queenstown. Queenstown I did the bungee jumping there and Lake Wanaka as well. I couldn't go skiing because I didn't have enough time, but was really good times [00:09:30] there. My best place for sure.
Kim: Now, Phil, you and I both like, I've seen the photos of you just snorkeling.
Phil: Yes. Love it.
Kim: Have you gone deeper?
Phil: No, but I'm planning on getting my PETTY certificate this summertime I think. I'm gonna do.
Kim: I've been deeper once and it's a tough gig. So-
Phil: It's a different world down there.
Kim: It is a different world totally. Kate Malcolm is from Dive! Tutukaka, which is New Zealand's Premier Full-Service Dive Charter operator. [00:10:00] Now they service the Port Knight Islands, and they reckon it's the best subtropical diving in the world.
Wet my appetite. Thought we should chat to Kate. Hey, Kate. How are you going?
Kate: [inaudible 00:10:14] I'm good. How are you?
Kim: Yeah, very well. It is a different world, as Phil said, once you're down there, not just sort of snorkeling on top of the water isn't it?
Kate: It is very different under there. It's a completely different environment and it's actually fantastic. [00:10:30] Not like we live up here.
Kim: Okay, when I did this dive, obviously when you're new you have to practice, I couldn't get the breathing right and I had a panic attack. Has that happened before.
Kate: Yeah, no, it's really common. It's a mammalian field reflex, and the minute water hits your face you give an unconscious mammalian reflex. So you just, "Ah", go like that. So when you put the mask on, and some people ... it covers your nose and some people have real trouble just breathing through [00:11:00] their mouth. But it's a matter of just getting used to it. I used to practice in the shower and you can do that. You've got the water on your face and you breath out through your mouth. Once you get used to it, it's perfectly fine. Some of the skills that you [inaudible 00:11:12]. Clearing a mask, and a mask remove and replace, and you actually become quite comfortable. If you practice it and you're taught correctly, it's a really easy thing to do.
Kim: Well, I did master that. But once I got, [inaudible 00:11:25] Phil, I've actually got some video footage of this actually. I was like a washing machine. [00:11:30] I kept turning over.
Kate: I tell you what, the astronauts train for anti-gravity in space underwater because it's very much zero gravity. You're kind of like spinning around and you have to get your buoyancy nailed too. That's tricky. But you can learn that skill as well.
Kim: Well, I'll see how I go on my second venture. Now you make a call that you have diving worth crossing the world for. So what can a traveler and, you know, New Zealand is a long way away from Europe and America, what can a traveler expect once [00:12:00] they get to you?
Kate: It definitely is diving worth crossing the world for. Jacques Cousteau rated it one of the top 10 dive sites in the world. I'm not gonna argue with him. He's a legend. But one of the things that the Poor Knights have that you don't get anywhere else is an amazing current that comes down from the Coral Sea and it's slightly warmer. And with it, it brings some sub-tropical species. That means that it's temperate and New Zealand's marine environment and it's got that added effect [00:12:30] of the current coming down from the Tropics. So, that means you're gonna have a biodiversity that you don't normally get anywhere else. That's often called The Galapagos of the South Pacific for that very reason. So you're gonna have subtropical species, you have temperate water species, you'll have cooler water species, you'll have a whole lot of fish there that you go, "Oh, I've seen it somewhere before," and then it's in that environment.
Because it's volcanic in origin, and that means it's made of [inaudible 00:12:56] rocks. So these arches and swim throughs, [00:13:00] it's not Coral. It's kind of like an adventure labyrinth playground under there. [inaudible 00:13:07] Everywhere you look there is a nook or a cranny that's got something different. About five different species of rays, five different species of Moray eel and they're living in the little crevices, the little nooks and the little holes in the rocks. You're always gonna see something that's completely different from a tiny little nudibranch, right up to the massive school of fish we have: Trevally, mau mau, blue mau mau, pink mau mau, [00:13:30] right up to the booger fish as well. We have 1.5, 2 meter long Kingfish, and they swim in big packs. It's a little bit of everything out there and that's why we think it's diving worth crossing the world for, because it's got something for everybody.
Kim: You have marine biologists on staff and in a previous podcast we chatted about the amount of plastic that's polluting our oceans. What is it like in New Zealand and have you noticed any changes to the water or fish species indeed?
Kate: We're very lucky at the Poor Knights because it's a complete marine [00:14:00] reserve, a hundred percent no take and has been for a number of years. That's one of the reasons why it's the best diving in New Zealand is that it is untouched. It's a pristine environment. We do occasionally see the odd bit of rubbish that comes into the Poor Knights. There is more of it along the coast than we account. I wish I could say that New Zealand doesn't have any [inaudible 00:14:19]. It does. We do have that kind of problem here. It's not as exacerbated in New Zealand as it is in other parts of the world, but as divers, we have eyes underwater and we're very much about ... and [00:14:30] we have an initiative here in the Tutukaka Coast called Tutukaka Coast Plastic Free.
So we don't use plastic tape on our bottles, we have caps, we don't have anything plastic on our boats, we use paper to wrap sandwiches in a lunch bag. Every effort you make minimizes as much plastic as you can. We'd be remiss to think that global stocks weren't declining in New Zealand because they're globally declining in the world. But we can make a difference in our own little backyard and it would be remiss of me to say there's no plastic in New Zealand. There is. [00:15:00] But we can make the best of it in our own backyard and this part of the coastline is actually extraordinary, pristine.
Kim: Well, sounds beautiful and most of our listeners are from the Northern Hemisphere, so you would tell them that this is worth crossing the world for?
Kate: I'm biased obviously, but there is something really cool about this place. We have a word in Maori called Turangawaewae and that means your place to stand. And there's something about the islands here that touches peoples souls. [00:15:30] It's a beautiful place, a pristine nature reserve and a marine preserve. And it definitely is my Turangawaewae. It's my place to stand.
Kim: Wow, what a beautiful way to end that chat and links to Dive! Tutukaka in our show notes. Phil, where is your place to stand?
Phil: I think it's anywhere where there's surf. On the beach. I love standing over the coast line and looking at surf.
Kim: I would absolutely agree with you. Still to come, the godfather of adrenaline, but now ...
Announcer: And now ask Phil.
Phil: [00:16:00] Our question this episode about New Zealand was posted by Millie who asked, "Seven-day road trip in New Zealand in a camper van. Must dos, places to see, and eat." Well, Millie happens to be our editorial assistant here in the World Nomad headquarters in Sydney, so I've asked her to come in the studio. Hi, Mil. Great voice, How's the cold goin'?
Millie: It's getting there. It's been about a week now.
Phil: What was some of the advice you got? Did you follow up on it? And how good was the trip.
Millie: First of all, everyone was like, "Seven days? [00:16:30] What the hell are you doing? You're never going to be able to fit anything in there." So we upped the time to 11 days and we said we'd hire a Wicked Camper Van and then I read the reviews and went, "Oh, hell no."
Kim: Now the Wicked Ones are the ones with all the writing over them.
Phil: They've got like graffiti on them and some slogans written on them. And they're actually a little bit too blue. So of them are quite offensive and I've got kids and you don't want them to be reading [00:17:00] those. And there they are driving on the road.
Millie: Some of the reviews were saying that some of the towns in New Zealand are just, they don't want them in there.
Millie: So we figured let's go with a better van, which meant we had to up our budget. But there was another guy who said on the forum by no means should we hire a van. Get a car and just stay in hostels along the way. It'll save heaps of money and everything. The thing with that is, we [00:17:30] did hire a van by the way. We went with Brits and it was a massive big action [inaudible 00:17:35] if anyone wants to check it out. It wasn't cheap, but we stayed in all three campsites. You gotta check out the Department of Conservation's website. Some of the campsites are maybe maximum $13 a night. But they are unreal.
Kim: Have they got facilities or do you have to take a shovel?
Millie: Well, I'm a bit of shovel camper back here in Australia so [00:18:00] that's nothing new for us. But no facilities and New Zealand is still a drop toilet. So they're environmental friendliness and everything down there is totally different to up here. If it says basic facilities, it means basic. But that's better than paying $25 for a hostel. Just pay $13 and sleep under the stars.
Phil: Can I just explain? I don't know if this is an Australian thing, but the long drop toilet. This is like a composting toilet. There is a building on [00:18:30] the top with a toilet seat. But it's over a bloody big hole.
Kim: And they often smell. Sorry, they do. They're not great.
Phil: But it's better than digging the hole yourself.
Kim: I don't mind doing the shovel. I'm with Millie. It doesn't worry me. Except I'm pretty quick in the morning. [crosstalk 00:18:49]
Phil: We're gonna have to put a language warning on this episode, okay. Now the other thing I know about New Zealand is they allow free camping as well unless there's a sign saying no free camping allowed, [00:19:00] you can camp just about anywhere you want?
Millie: Yeah. You'll see a sign when you roll into some of the towns and I think it'll either have a van or a tent and a red circle with the no-go and that means no freedom camping. You can't just park your van in front of any old place and sleep the night. You'll get asked to move along. Doesn't matter if it's 4 am, they'll tell you to get stuffed and go somewhere else.
Millie: But you drive 10 minutes out of [00:19:30] town, you can freedom camp. Just pick your spots wisely. The one thing that we saw when we were driving around was people, tourists, pulling on the side of the road where it was dangerously close to a barrier. No room. Already a one lane sort of road between Queenstown and Glenorchy. [crosstalk 00:19:51] Stopping for a great photo. All I could think is hopefully no one stops there to camp because this freedom camping thing I think people take it pretty loosely.
Phil: [00:20:00] So, rate the tips that you got on Ask a Nomad Did they help organize your trip.
Millie: Oh, yeah. If it wasn't for them, we probably would have booked in the seven days and very quickly found out that's way too little time to squeeze everything in.
Kim: What if you've got a travel question, Phil? What do you do?
Phil: Then you need to get on and ask a nomad. Go to answers.worldnomads.com.
Kim: When I requested this interview, I wasn't convinced I'd get it, Phil. Asking to speak with one of the godfathers of adrenalin [00:20:30] in the world and co founder of AJ Hackett Bungee, Henry Van Asch, there were a few hoops to jump through. But to my delight, Henry said yes and a conference call was set up and I went ahead and asked him, "How did you get into bungee?"
Henry: Well, I was [inaudible 00:20:47] in the whatever it was, the '80s. In the late '80s I met AJ and he had a friend who had been trying to work out how to do stuff [00:21:00] with rubber for a couple years and AJ did a job with him in Auckland then he called me a couple days later and said, "You gotta come and do this. It's amazing." I flew out there the week after he did his first jump. I did one and we just sort of developed it from there. We had groups of friends doing it and we refined the system to get to a point when, in 1988, we were able to open it to the [00:21:30] unsuspecting public.
Kim: Can you explain, then, that logistical process where you took it from your idea to something that's commercial?
Henry: It was a period of a trial as I suppose you could call them, where we found bridges and we set up the ... built the rubbers and built the bungees, normally, on the site and then we did some testing with weights. Then we'd throw a whole bunch of weights off and then, once we were satisfied that everything was working perfectly, [00:22:00] we would then put ourselves and our friends on it. That was sort of the first phase. And then we probably did a bit of market testing I suppose, and then realized it was, that people were really excited about it and scared and excited, and we then thought we needed to look for a permanent site. We [inaudible 00:22:25] Queenstown.
Queenstown at that time had a pretty strong two season [00:22:30] time table where in the winter it was quite busy. The winters are a bit shorter without snow making, but it was busier [inaudible 00:22:37]. So we thought that Queenstown was the ideal place to do it and I also wanted to move back into the mountains so came down here [inaudible 00:22:51]. At that stage, we then had to apply to the people who owed the bridge, which is the Department of Cultivation, [00:23:00] which is New Zealand's [inaudible 00:23:01] in charge of animals and historical structures and the like. And we managed to convince them to give us a 30-day license to operate, and then we got it extended to three months and then six months and then five years. Before the five years were up, we got a 66-year lease on that site. So that was sort of the initial setup phase, really.
Kim: Were you surprised [00:23:30] by its popularity?
Henry: Well, we already knew from jumping with friends that it was something that people were scared and excited about. [inaudible 00:23:42] fear involved, which people, when they overcome it, feel elated. And beyond the elation, there's a really deep sense of satisfaction and achievement that people get when they've done bungee and they have had all this fear leading up [00:24:00] to it. They push through those barriers and then they find that they have got more confidence in their ability to make good decisions and more confidence in their ability to do things. It is quite transformational, bungee, and that's one of the things [inaudible 00:24:15] sit in the background, behind the glossy image or the danger, the extreme imagery that bungee has sort of been associated with.
Kim: Well, I've been to Queenstown three times [00:24:30] and each time I've gone to a bungee, twice to the bridge and once to the Nives. And I've never done it, but there's this massive buy in. I sit there and watch everyone doing the bungee, and there could be someone on the platform for 15 minutes and the staff are just so patient. The people that are in the queue are so patient. And when the person finally does it, it's like the whole place just erupts with this massive "Congratulations, you're a hero."
Henry: And that is [inaudible 00:24:59] thing for us is that [00:25:00] we really work hard to get people to do it. We know that there is a lot of fear involved and most people scared and when they had done it, they are a hero. AJ [inaudible 00:25:17] we have over the years done lots of one offs [inaudible 00:25:19] special, not stunt jumps, but things like the Eiffel Tower, out of helicopters and tandem jumps with celebrities. Things [00:25:30] like that. Really for us it's about taking bungee to every man to use an old phrase, but every person and making it accessible and providing a team and a recording system to provide the proof that they did it, for anybody to be able to access. And that's always been fundamental to us, is that it's not about being a superhero. It's not about being an extreme sports person. It's just [00:26:00] about being an ordinary person who can do extraordinary things.
Kim: Definitely. So why do you think people are attracted to adventure tourism?
Henry: Well, it has changed over the 30 years that I've been sort of deeply involved with it. But in New Zealand people come here because it is a great country for adventure. The people of New Zealand are great adventurers right from [inaudible 00:26:24]. A thousand years ago we were the most [00:26:30] adventurous voyages of the people [inaudible 00:26:32] Pacific. And they had a few goes of getting here and [inaudible 00:26:36] took a while for them to come back again. The ones that did come here were the most adventurous. And then when the European waves came several hundred years later, they were adventurous people as well, often the sailors and explorers, sealers and whalers initially and then [inaudible 00:26:57] and the farmers came and they had to deal with the elements. [00:27:00] New Zealand is a great mixture of [inaudible 00:27:03] probably the greatest of the world.
Kim: And Phil, Henry use to bungy 10 to 15 times a day by the way. But now it's about 20 times a year when his kids force him to do it to show off to their mates. Coming up, [Whalen Murphy 00:27:13] who knows both Henry and AJ Hackett very well as he has bungy-jumped around the world. But first, let's get some travel news.
Phil: Officials are predicting [inaudible 00:27:23] Hawaii will be knocked off its perch as the most popular holiday island in the world by Okinawa.
Kim: [00:27:30] Japan.
Phil: That's right. Visits to the southern Japanese island jumped more than 10% last year. And if that trend continues, it will take Hawaii's crown of ... 8.8 million people visited in Okinawa last year and only 8.9 visited Hawaii. So they're gonna bump them off the top of that one. Fueling this boom is tourism from China, Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan. One more new destination to put on your travel list for 2018, Saudi Arabia begins issuing tourist visas this [00:28:00] year.
Kim: Are you sure.
Phil: Yep, you could only go as an ex-pat or as a work before, now they're issuing tourist visas. And what is there to see? Well, how about the Pharasen Islands, a favorite haunt of Jacques Cousteau, so the diving must be all right. Madane Sala, the 2,000-year-old silent desert city with its magnificent tombs carved from the rocks looks a bit like the treasury building in Jordan. But they're just carved out of a single lump of rock. It's pretty spectacular.
Phil: And the empty quarters, [00:28:30] they call it. That vast expanse of dunes and desert, which constitute the largest sand sea planet on the earth.
Also in news, the most Instagrammed places in the world for 2017, can you guess, Kim?
Kim: No, you tell me.
Phil: Okay. At number four was the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
Kim: Yep, [inaudible 00:28:49].
Phil: Number three, Central Park, New York.
Phil: Number two, Times Square.
Kim: I see [inaudible 00:28:53].
Phil: [inaudible 00:28:53]. It is a magnificent place to go. First time I went to New [00:29:00] York, a friend of mine, I caught up with him and he said, "Get on the subway here, get off at the next stop." It's like midnight walking through Times Square. Sensational.
Anyway, the number one Instagrammed place on the planet was Disneyland in Anaheim, California. What a let-down.
Kim: It was a let-down, wasn't it?
Phil: It's not really a World Nomad adventure-seeking place, is it?
Kim: It's not. Speaking of which, a reminder you can follow World Nomads on Instagram with all of our 97,000 followers and [00:29:30] really some truly amazing travel picks.
Phil: None of Sleeping Beauty.
Kim: Well, Phil, I was told this guy is a dude. He's a legend and you must chat to him. It's Whalen. Welcome to the World Nomads studio here in Sydney, Whalen.
Whalen: Thanks for having me.
Kim: You're an Aussie guy.
Whalen: I am.
Kim: But you're a mad adventurer.
Whalen: You could put it that way, yeah.
Kim: In fact, you have just bungeed around the world. Tell us about that. When did you come up with this harebrained [00:30:00] scheme?
Whalen: It was a Sunday afternoon last year. I was bored on a Sunday so I decided I wanted to do something massive. Started off as a weekend to Macau to jump the world's highest and it ended up being 10 weeks.
Phil: Where did you go? Which countries?
Whalen: I started in New Zealand in Queenstown.
Phil: Of course. [inaudible 00:30:19]
Whalen: Himel. Where it all started. [inaudible 00:30:21] Then went to England, France, Russia, China, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Cannes.
Kim: [00:30:30] Russia.
Whalen: Yeah, one of the best jumps. Yeah.
Phil: Do you like check out the equipment yourself before you do it? I mean, that's the first thing I'd be checking out.
Whalen: I have a very, very high level of trust in the AJ guys.
Phil: Whereabouts in Russia is it?
Phil: Oh right.
Whalen: Just down the road from the winter Olympics site.
Kim: So what are you jumping into?
Whalen: It's in the middle of a canyon. It's a purpose-built site. Purely for AJ. Big long pedestrian bridge. The longest [00:31:00] in the world I think it is. Right in the middle of it, 207 meters straight into a canyon over a river. Amazing.
Kim: What goes through your mind as you prepare yourself to jump?
Whalen: At the moment it's technique, but you're standing on a ledge-
Phil: Wait, no wait. What technique? Isn't it just falling?
Whalen: Well, it depends on the jump you're doing.
Phil: Okay, go on.
Whalen: After a hundred and whatever it is, jumps. Some days get a bit, not boring, but you want something different. [00:31:30] On the ledge, as I tell everyone, you just gotta turn off. Turn off and just jump and know that as soon as you get off that ledge it's just that free fall feeling you can't beat.
Kim: Do you get nerves, though?
Kim: Each time?
Whalen: Yeah, yeah. As soon as that goes, I'll stop jumping.
Kim: Really? So there's an adrenalin rush there?
Kim: So France, what did you jump off? I'm picturing the Eiffel Tower, but please tell me it's not like that.
Whalen: I wish that AJ [00:32:00] Hackett himself exclusive, that one?
Whalen: No. In Normandy off an old viaduct. Out in the country. Out in the tall countryside. French countryside. Absolutely beautiful. 61 meters.
Phil: Okay. So the 207 meters is a long way then. [inaudible 00:32:21] Russia was the biggest one?
Whalen: No. Macau Tower is the biggest one. 223 meters.
Phil: Oh okay.
Kim: 223 meters. [00:32:30] How do you even get up to that height to do the jump?
Whalen: In a very, very quick lift.
Kim: And are you just as nervous on a 227-meter jump as you are a 61-meter jump?
Whalen: Depends on the jump. Depends on the jump. But with all the jumps they're all completely different. So it's a completely different feeling.
Kim: 'Cause that sounds like a Nancy jump compared to what you normally do.
Whalen: Yes, I mean my-
Phil: No. No. It was in Normandy. Not Nancy. Sorry, that was a French joke. Sorry.
Whalen: That's just down the road.
Phil: Yeah, that's it.
Whalen: It [00:33:00] all depends on the jump, I was saying before that the scariest jump that I've done so far is between Sochi at 69 meters and Cannes at 50.
Kim: Phil, from a travel insurance perspective, is someone like Whalen covered or do you have to make sure you check your policy?
Phil: It varies a bit because World Nomads, we cover people from 130 different countries. We've got like six different underwriters, so it will vary from underwriter to underwriter. But, generally bungee jumping, [00:33:30] if you're doing it with a licensed operator, you're covered.
Kim: But if you're not doing it with a licensed operator-
Phil: No no no. Home bungee, not covered. That's unacceptable risk. That is recklessness, so-
Kim: Well, the beginning of bungee started with people using, it was tree vines wasn't it? And they would actually-
Phil: [inaudible 00:33:50]
Kim: Yeah, in [inaudible 00:33:51] and they would actually hit the ground. Have you ever had any kind of near misses like that?
Whalen: Absolutely none.
Whalen: No, there's been bumps and there have been bruises, but that's a matter [00:34:00] of the sport.
Kim: So what's next then?
Whalen: That's a good question. Little trips [inaudible 00:34:06] next year. But the next big thing? How do you top it?
Kim: Somehow I reckon Whalen will find a way to top it. Links to his website and Instagram too, in our show notes.
Well, we've reached the end of this episode, and trust we have convinced you New Zealand is worth crossing the world for. Actually one other interesting fact, it looks great from space according to singing [00:34:30] astronaut Chris Hadfield, who pinpointed the Marlborough region, good wine district as well, as one of the most attractive on the planet when he was orbiting.
All right, the answer to your quiz question, Phil, that you asked at the top of the show.
Phil: Plenty of mountains, peaks and bloody big hills in New Zealand, how many of them are over 3000 meters high? I was kidding about naming them, but the answer is 26.
Phil: 26 of them over 3000 meters. Starting with Mount Cook at 3724 [00:35:00] meters, or that's 12.200 feet-
Kim: It's beautiful, Mount Cook.
Phil: And it's known locally as Aoraki. Actually, Aoraki has [inaudible 00:35:09] was that good? Or we've fallen back into Island, right?
Kim: That didn't exactly roll of the tongue.
Phil: Mount Cook has three peaks, upper, middle, and lower. Which are all 100 meters higher than the next highest peak in New Zealand, which is Mount Tasman.
Kim: Is that that you made it sound like it was in Japan.
Phil: [00:35:30] Aoraki. And another reason to cross the world for New Zealand, you can follow in the footsteps of Sir Edmond Hillary without having to climb Everest because of course, he climbed Mount Cook too.
Kim: That's another great reason. That wraps up episode seven. Subscribe, rate, share on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, contact us by emailing [email protected]nomads.com. Next time you see us, we will be off in Germany.
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