NZ: Day 16
Kia Ora! We left Rotorua early; There was already a buzz and sense of excitement- twinged with fear- within the Kiwi bus, as today was our chance to Skydive!
After stopping off to have a look at some more geysers we reached Huka Falls, just North of Taupo. Here, we spent a good half an hour walking around the river and watched as a jet-boat squirmed up towards the waterfalls.
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Half an hour later, we were back in Taupo- the adventure capital of the North- and having spent our last visit relaxing in the natural thermal springs, this visit was to be a completely different affair! As we drove into the town, we were given the run-down for the skydiving and the Tongariro Crossing (Mount Doom trek) activities. Our skydive was scheduled for later this afternoon, while the Tongariro Trek would take place at 5am the next morning, lasting the entire day. As a result of both popular activities, Taupo is penciled in as an automatic two night stop.
On our last visit to Taupo we stayed at Urban Retreat. This time, the whole bus was staying at Base Hostel $32, where we also got the chance to catch up with the people on the bus ahead of us, who were now into their second day at Taupo and almost all repping their skydive t-shirts and still buzzed with adrenaline. As we checked in and sorted our rooms out, people already started to get whisked away into a limo to the airfield- it was real!
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Our slot was one of the last ones and people had already started to return, huge beams on their faces, before it was eventually our turn to go.
Soon enough, our limo arrived and the 8 of us, were driven in style to the Skydive Taupo Airfield.
With the shakes beginning to set in, we were shown a video, where we had to make one of the most important decisions of the dive- the soundtrack and method of film:The two notable film methods are; To have a Gopro camera strapped to the instructor and narrate your pre and post feelings and experiences in a kind of interview, or, to have another qualified diver jump out of the plane and film you from afar- both are the same price of $499 for 15,000 ft dive. Of course the other decision that needs to be made is whether to dive at 12,000ft or 15,000ft. To dive at 15,000ft is an extra $50 or so and adds 20 seconds of free-fall- Its a no brainer really- you have to do the higher one to really have the full experience of it!
After signing away our life we were ushered into the Air hanger and fitted for our jump suits. With all the strapping and equipment being clipped onto us, we were introduced to our skydivers- mine was called Damien- that’s right Damien, the name of the Devil was to be my guardian for the dive!
I was the last one on to the little pink plane- bumping my head on the roof on the way in- classy start. This meant that I was the one closest to the door- and the first one out! We rose higher and higher, each time the lake, which is bigger than Singapore, becoming squished to the size of a paddling pool.
At 12,000ft we had to put on oxygen masks and we waited anxiously for the 15,000ft mark. In complete honesty, although my heart rate was throbing, I was more pumped up than nervous- I was actually really excited!
The red light turned to green, the hatchet opened up and all of a sudden my feet were dangling 15,000ft over the edge of the plane;
We tumbled out of the plane and into a one minute free-fall- It was totally insane, a feeling that only people who have done the jump, will be able to understand. In short, it was incredible…brilliant… amazing…a real ‘Holy Shit moment’! Was it the best thing I’ve ever done…most definitely!
As we fell down through the Earth’s atmosphere and towards the lake, my photo buddy pushed me away and waved me farewell; We had reached the end of the free-fall and the parachute flung open. ‘We’ve successfully and safely deployed the chute’ came the words of Damien as everything suddenly fell silent- A complete shift in balance from the crazy, whirlwind rush from the minute before; The lake glistened, the mountains peaked, the sun set and the clouds feathered the Earth’s curvature- everything was peaceful, calm and spectacular!
A few breath-taking minutes later, we had landed on our feet, from 15,000 ft. What an experience!
Still speechless, I sat back om the grass and watched as the rest of the group came crashing back down to Earth. As everyone else landed one-by-one we all shared the same incredible emotions; Hive-fiving and hugging one another. All grounded, we were escorted into the video room and waited as our videos were assembled and shared in front of the whole group; After laughing at everyone’s faces and reactions throughout the fall, we picked up our shirts and saw off the final group of the day.
As they landed and the plane was retreated to the hanger the skydive instructors kicked back with a beer and we were escorted back in the limo to do the same.
Before we had left to do the skydive, we knew we had to be up at 5am the next morning, so had immediately crossed off getting drunk that night. However, everyone was so full of excitement and on another emotional level, that really there was only one thing we could do! As soon as we got back to the hostel, we found that everyone was already on the beer and we joined suit, partying hard into the night, each of us elated at our own personal, rewarding experience. What a day!
Base Hostel: $32 NZ/ £16 p/n **
Huka Falls: Free **
Skydive 15,000 ft and photos: $499 NZ / £250 *****