For as long as I remember I have always been a bit of an adrenaline junkie. My mum was convinced that I wouldn’t live passed the age of 5, what with jumping out of trees, doing any dare I was put up to (I almost jumped from our play house roof into a paddling pool on a concrete patio!), as well as being generally clumsy. I spent many summers in various theme parks and really enjoyed the fastest and craziest ride. You could hang me upside down by my feet and I’d love it!
After my spinal surgery 8 years ago I was told that I couldn’t do a lot of things. I ignored that (I will pay for it later in life), and I continue to participate in crazy adventure activities!
During my first visit to New Zealand in February/March 2011, I had just over 2 weeks to cram in a lot of activities and travel. I opted to stay in the North Island and see a lot of that.
One of my bucket list activities which I knew I had to tick off whilst I was here was Skydiving! I had heard that it was amazing to do in New Zealand, as opposed to a charity skydive over some field in the UK. This was one of the first activities I pre-booked before I left the UK.
There are a number of places in New Zealand that you can Skydive, and I choose Lake Taupo, due to its close proximity to Rotoura, where I had planned to be a few days before.
There are again quite a few Skydiving companies around the Lake Taupo area, I just choose a random one, so can’t speak for one over the other.
The company I went with was Taupo Tandem Skydiving (http://www.taupotandemskydiving.com)
I chose their biggest jump (of course!) which was jumping from 15,000ft with almost 1 minute of freefall! You can buy the jump as an experience on its own, or buy a package. I bought the silver package, which gave you a t-shirt (you have always got to get a t-shirt for these crazy things, along with a video, it proves you’ve done it!), the video and photographs. This cost $499 (and to my knowledge two years on, it still does!)
On the drive from Rotoura to Lake Taupo I was feeling a little apprehensive, mainly because the weather didn’t look too great, and I was told the day before that if the weather isn’t good, they don’t do jumps. A quick call to the centre on the way and everything was good. In fact they said the weather looks perfect (and it was!)
My parents dropped me off at the centre just after I signed all the consent forms and had the safety talk. I think they went for a drive, and came back an hour later to watch me land.
After being suited up, I was paired up with my tandem partner (Elad), we were lead out to the tiny little plane. Walking out to it I felt like Bruce Willis going on his mission in Armageddon.
Leaving the ground on the little plane and watching the Lake getting smaller and smaller, it just felt like I was off on a wee flight. That was until we got to 12,000ft and they started chucking people out. I had butterflies, but was still excited.
During the flight on the way up the plane lose cabin pressure, as it is only a tiny wee propelled plane, so you are given Oxygen for 10 minutes until you are ready to jump out.
When it was my turn to jump, it all happened pretty quickly. We shuffled to the edge. I got a quick exit photo and the instructor pushed me off. For the first 20-30 seconds or so, you are completely disorientated. This was evident from my video. One second I was sitting on the edge of a plane and the next I was falling from the sky. Surreal, but amazing.
Prior to the jump I did have the thoughts of, what if the parachute doesn’t open, but when you are free falling, you don’t have time to think of that. Skydiving is probably a lot easier than something like Bungy jumping, as you are attached to someone that jumps out, and in a way, you don’t have a choice. A Bungy you have to jump off at your own volition (no one will push you!)
The part after the free fall is amazing, you gently glide back down to land, and are supposed to land gently on the ground but I didn’t put my feet out properly, and landed with a big thud!
I can totally recommend this to anyone (if you are good with heights of course). The staff at Taupo Tandem Skydive were brilliant and made it an easy and fun experience. It something I will remember forever.
For your jump, make sure you are wearing something warm. It is quite chilly at 15,000ft, even if it is boiling hot on the ground.