All Black star Aaron Smith is jumping at the chance to come to Queenstown next week - and not just to play rugby.
Smith and his Highlanders teammates play Australian team the Waratahs at the Recreation Ground next Friday in a mouthwatering trans-Tasman clash between Super 15’s last two titleholders.
It’s also both teams’ final pre-season hit-out before this year’s elongated Super rugby competition.
But the trip also looms large for the livewire All Black halfback as he seeks to conquer the only New Zealand bungy jump he’s yet to do - the Nevis Highwire.
“If I man up enough to do the Nevis, then I’ve done all the ones in NZ, which will be pretty cool.”
During a visit last weekend he knocked off The Ledge Bungy and nearby Ledge Swing, which he admits was a bit scarier than he’d anticipated.
As a professional sportsman, Smith says he’s got to be a bit smart about his off-field activities.
“Anything like a bungy or a skydive, I think you’re pretty safe.
“I wouldn’t go out and go jumping mountain bikes, or four-wheeling, as much as I’d love to.
“You’ve just got to be a bit sensible, but anything like the rafting or the jetboating, I’m definitely really keen on trying to do and [Queenstown’s] the best place to do it.”
Dunedin-based Smith says he always enjoys coming to Queenstown, citing “good food, good nightlife and it’s always pretty good weather”.
Having sat out last weekend’s Hong Kong game, Smith - who’s due to play today’s pre-season game against the Crusaders - says he’s targeting the Waratahs fixture for maximum game time before the competition kicks off the following week.
Since the Highlanders beat the Waratahs in their Sydney semi-final on the way to winning the Super 15 title last year, “I’d say there’d still be a little bit of sore blood from them”, Smith says.
“They’ll be coming hard and we wouldn’t expect anything less, but we want to beat them because we’re playing in front of our people.
“It’s always good to play an Australian team in the pre-season, they always mix things up a little bit.
“The Waratahs are ex-champs a couple of years ago and they’ve got a lot of Wallabies.
“You’re pretty much playing the Australian team so it’s going to be a tough day.
“But it should be fun in Queenstown, and hopefully the weather comes out, and the fans.”
Smith, part of last year’s World Cup-winning All Black team, is also looking forward to catching up with ex-All Black halfback and TV rugby commentator Justin Marshall.
“We’re trying to weasel him to be a little bit of a Highlanders fan - I think we had him on the bandwagon last year once the Crusaders dropped out.”
Meanwhile, Smith reveals he recently reprised his first trade, hairdressing.
“I did all the boys in my girlfriend’s family - Christmas Day, Boxing Day, I did about five cuts in a row.
“I haven’t lost my touch but I definitely try and put it on the backburner these days.”