Taupo is stunning. You are greeted by towering Mount Doom (or Ngauruhoe for the non-LOTR fans…), sitting proudly amongst jutting mountains which gather around Taupo’s majestic lake. The lake itself could accommodate the entirety of Singapore and is the largest lake in Australasia.
Not content with viewing this natural marvel from ground-level, I wanted to take to the sky.
Our sky-dive company (Skydive Taupo) picked us up from our hostel and whizzed us to the airfield. We excitedly signed our lives away and pulled ourselves into attractive red jumpsuits, harnesses, a hat and some rather funky goggles. Not even Beyonce could pull off sky-dive chic…
We then had to ‘umm’ and ‘ahh’ about the package we wanted to fork out on. One thing sky-diving isn’t, is cheap. However, it is a once in a lifetime/YOLO activity so I felt that if I was going to splash the cash anywhere, then it had to be here. I would just have to cut back on McDonalds and double rooms for a while…
I chose the $499 (£250) bundle which included a jump from 15,000ft (the highest you can go here), a t-shirt, photos and a video. Jumping from 15,000ft gives you a minute of freefall- the most exhilarating part of the sky-dive- and is definitely worth spending that little bit more for.
After we had handed over the cash we met our tandem buddy and our own personal videographer who would be jumping alongside us. My tandem buddy was very skinny images of me squashing him and dragging him to earth began to flick through my mind…
Luckily the day was clear and bright, promising amazing views. Sky-dives are weather dependent and New Zealand’s weather is about as predictable as ours, which is worth bearing in mind if you are on a tight schedule.
Clipped into our tandem buddies, we boarded a tiny plane which was unlike any I had ever been in. Instead of seats there are two benches and a roll-up door, enabling a quick and easy exit.
It takes about 20 minutes to reach 15,000ft which is simply ridiculous. How could I be about to chuck myself out of a plane which had been climbing solidly for 20 minutes?! When you are heading to this altitude you can physically feel the air thinning and everyone is given oxygen masks, which is an experience in itself!
When you reach your desired altitude the plane’s engine changes and you begin to cruise peacefully above the spectacular scenery below. Apparently, on a good day, you are able to see both sides of New Zealand, right across from west to east.
Now for the scary bit.
If I have a tip for you, it would be to jump first. Bite the bullet and chuck yourself out before anyone else has a chance. The worst and scariest bit of the entire experience was watching the people going before me, dropping out of the plane and falling like stones.
When it is your turn to go, you are shuffled to the ledge and before you know it, you’re flying through the sky, G-Force rattling your cheeks and wind whipping your face.
Before I could even catch my breath, my video guy sailed towards me, spinning me around and encouraging me to pose for the camera. Probably as weird as a selfie can get…
And before you know it, the freefall is over and you are hanging gracefully from a parachute. In sky-diving videos it always looks like the parachute is deployed violently, and potentially painfully, but in reality I didn’t notice anything but a change of pace. In the place of pure, intense adrenalin, was a calming serenity and an echoing silence. The view was breathtaking.
The freefall had been incredible, but floating silently above New Zealand’s famous countryside was something different entirely. Gently winding closer and closer to the ground, I didn’t ever want to touch the ground.
Unfortunately I did, and graceful it was not…
I would encourage anyone to sky-dive, the adrenalin rush is amazing and the canopy ride is stunning, the best of both worlds.
Get out there and experience everything.
Location: Taupo, New Zealand.
Price: $499 (£250) for a 15000ft bundle package.
Fear Factor: 3.5/5
More Info: www.skydivetaupo.co.nz