Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Report From the Adventure Sport Capital of the World

As I write this, I'm on my way out of Queenstown, the birthplace of bungee and now a mecca for thrillseekers worldwide. And while time and financial restraints meant that I had to forego many of the city's main attractions, I was fortunate enough to partake in a new offering that's being billed as the next craze in adventure sports: gobsmacking. As were many of the others in the area, our hotel gave us a discounted rate to try gobsmaking out. We were not disappointed.

The way the sport works is like this: You get picked up at your hotel at about 7:30 in the morning and then driven out to a hill overlooking the city. Staff briefs you on safety procedures and suits you up in all necessary equipment. Then, around 9, you trot to the top of the lookout, where a big Scottish guy named Angus punches you in the face a hard as he can.

The idea behind the sport is that it's the ultimate test of fortitude. Unlike bungee, which offers the illusion of danger without any significant chance of injury, the harm is guaranteed with gobsmacking. By participating, you have to supress your body's most primal need for self-preservation. The result is an unforgettable battle between your voluntary and involuntary impulses --- and thrills aplenty.

Those up for repeat gobsmacks can opt for different arrangements. For example, Angus can also punch you in the chest and then make fun of you. And for the truly adventurous, there's the option of letting Angus punch you and then toss you down a five-foot embankment.

The cost of participation --- $430 USD, with our hotel discount --- may seem steep, but it was entirely worth the cash dropped and blood shed to get an early jump on what is sure to be the next big thing in adventure sports. If you're in Queenstown or plan to travel through soon, ask after the original gobsmacking package. (Or, if you want, look for the dozens of similar offers sure to spring up in its wake. Already we heard of a similar deal up the road where these kids from Peru come an throw rocks at you.) It's your chance to prove that you'll let nothing stop you from living on the edge --- even the promise of certain bodily injury.

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