God I love New Zealand. It has everything any traveler could ever want. Adventure. Friendly people. Breathtaking scenery. Cow pats. All of this and so much more was on display at the World’s Biggest Waterslide. Six hundred metres of inflatable slide, set up on Jonkers farm with the spectacular backdrop of Bethells Beach.
Did I mention all of this awesomeness was done for a good cause? The World’s Biggest Waterslide was set up by the incredible team at Live More Awesome. LMA is a charity that raises awareness around depression and encourages everyone to open up and talk about depression and ways to deal with it. If you want to find out more about what they do or what they’ve been up to recently check out their website or their facebook page. You can also find a bunch of photos from the waterslide on their Facebook page – Jordie and I were too caught up in the experience and we forgot to take any!
The day of the waterslide started out as an unpredictable Auckland autumn day. Rain. Lots and lots of rain. Undeterred Jordie and I packed our rain jackets, jumpers, togs, towels and a spare change of clothes and headed out for what was sure to be a wet day. In what is stark contrast to how we usually do things, we arrived at the bus stop super early. As we sheltered on the bus a slow trickle of those who had decided to brave the rain filtered on board. It seemed that with each person who got on the bus the rain subsided slightly. By the time the bus departed, the rain had as well and it was replaced with brilliant sunshine.
A short walk, a quick slip in the mud and we were at the top of what was with out a doubt the World’s Biggest Waterslide. Just how epic six hundred metres of slide is, is hard to put into words. The bottom of the slide seems impossibly far away. The slide itself weaves in and out of view and the Live More Awesome volunteer team that mans the slide slowly becomes just a series of smaller and smaller dots.
One short, inspiring speech from LMA founder Jimi Hunt later we find ourselves at the front of the queue ready to experience the slide. The only memories I have of that first slide are a blur. I remember water spraying into my face. I remember drop after drop. I remember thinking “this must be the end” about four times, only to be proved wrong each time. What I really remember about the first slide is how I felt when I got off. It was more than an adrenaline rush. All the worries, stresses and pressures of normal adult life disappeared. They didn’t melt away or fade into the background. They were gone. I felt like a child again. My only focus was on getting back to the top and experiencing that crazy ride all over again.
I looked at Jordie as she got off the slide and could tell she felt exactly the same as I did. That’s when it hit us. Sliding downhill for well over a minute, hitting speeds of upto 50km/h and covering over half a kilometre of stunning New Zealand farmland has one serious consequence. The walk back to the top.
And it didn’t matter. Without a second thought the both of us were off. Dodging cow pats and thistles, watching other sliders go shooting past, laughing and recounting our experience of the slide and what we wanted to try next time. And so this cycle continued. We went down on lilos and yoga mats, in tandem and in trains, frontwards and backwards. We met a bunch of awesome people. Waiting in line we swapped tips on how to go faster, what to try next and what slide number we were on. Somewhere around slide number four we promised each other after the next one we would have a break. At slide number eight we promised ourselves and each other that we would actually have a break. I think it was after slide eleven that we actually stopped. For all of about five minutes. The slide was just too much damn fun. Every time I got off the only thing my brain would tell me was “AGAIN!”
All told we did thirteen slides. At one point the generator to the slide broke down. But in true New Zealand spirit two diesel mechanics happened to be walking backing up the hill. So one quick fix later and the fun was back online.
This whole experience really summed what New Zealand is to me. New Zealand is about having an idea, pulling together the resources wherever they may be found, getting some awesome people on board going out and having a blast. That’s part of the reason this blog exists. Jordie and I truly believe that these little pockets of awesome exist everywhere, most people are just so tuned into their normal life they forget to look for opportunities to try something a little bit different. So I challenge all of you to go out in your home, find something that you never knew existed and share it with the world. And if you can’t find anything, make it happen!
P.S. LMA is doing lots of awesome stuff encouraging people to stand up and talk openly about depression. Please go check them out!