Ki Ora from New Zealand
Well we awoke and Dominique and I decided a hearty breakfast was in order. There’s a place in Rotorua called the “Fat Dog”, and to be honest if you weren’t one before you entered you will be by the time you leave. It’s the thickest slice of toast I’ve ever had, I couldn’t even finish it and that’s not like me. To work off the calories we then went for a stroll around the local park across from the hostel. This too contains steaming mud pools so it was nice to get one last look at unique Rotorua before we left.
Our smaller minibus had arrived and we had a new driver, a lady called “Nads”. Now there are two meanings to this name. One is it’s a shortened version of her name but the second is that it’s short for Gonads or even “Go Nads !”. Yes this lady has balls, on her initiation trip she did a skydive naked. On that note that’s where we are probably headed if the weather holds today. After we’d got on and driven a short while she’d called up the skydiving place to see if it was possible for any jumps to take place today. Amazingly it was. I say amazingly because countless tourists have been trying jump both before and after that day without a lot of success. Yes, New Zealand is having it’s worst October on record but when it’s sunny it’s great. As soon as she mentioned we could go I felt an immediate need to get the bus stopped so I could make an emergency toilet stop, I felt sick to my stomach and so did Carolyn. Where just had her previous night’s confidence gone ? I think she left it in Rotorua…
We did actually get a toilet stop at the Huka falls (I stayed there for a while). Huka is a rather pretty narrow canyon like falls where you could get a jet boat at the bottom. No time for that though we had a schedule to keep. We checked in to the Urban Retreat hostel in Taupo, dumped our bags and got back on the bus. Nads is a qualified sky diver which means you no longer have to tandem so she was explaining how great we’d find it. She advised first timers to go 12,000 feet rather than 15,000 as you wouldn’t notice the extra 15 seconds of free fall on your first jump. I took her advice, plus it was a lot cheaper. The 6 of us arrived at Skydive Taupo, Lauren was just a spectator which was a shame as she was going to do one the next day but the weather meant she wasn’t able to. We were led in to a DVD room to be shown an example of a jump. The only criticism I have so far of New Zealand is although yes it is cheaper to do certain activities here they do try and get you to buy everything possible and to go as high as possible. I declined the DVD and elected for the 12,000 feet option. We were then kitted out in blue boiler suits and strapped up, then we waited to meet our tandem skydive partners. Mine was Alex and I struck gold with him. I was incredibly quiet but he explained what I had to do – basically be a banana (more details later) and to enjoy it. Alex then retied my straps to his preferred way and we had some photos taken. Then it was just time to await the plane. Dominique, Andy and Adam were very relaxed. Carolyn and I were complete nervous wrecks, in fact I think it’s fair to say we were trying to have a competition as to who could be the most nervous. On the plus side the more nervous you are the higher the adrenalin so in theory the better the buzz. Anyone who knows me will know that I have always said I would never do this, come to think of it , what the hell am I doing ???????
Skydive Taupo does have 100% safety record, so I just kept thinking about that and the plane arrived. We all boarded. Andy and Dominique first as they were going higher then Carolyn, me and Adam. This meant Adam was first to go. The plane was pretty small, we all had a photo taken in the plane before we left but none of us can even remember that. The plane took off and I am just silent. Alex keeps showing me his altitude watch to show how high we are and just tells me to clear my head. At around 6000 feet you literally have to sit on their laps so you can be strapped together. I’m really relying on those straps right now. We are nearly at the required altitude when we go through more clouds and feel a lot of turbulence. Carolyn and I frown at each other, a couple of expletives may also have been exchanged.
Then it’s the moment I’ve been dreading (well apart from the rest of the build up). The plane door is opened. I grab the metal bar above me at which point Alex says I won’t be able to take that with me (please, let me, please..). Carolyn screams and Andy and Dominique are being given oxygen at the back as they are going to 15,000 feet. Adam is then moved to the entrance. He was so calm on the ground and suddenly I saw a complete look of terror go across his face. Then he was gone. In fact when they go it’s quite funny as you just dissapear downards, falling through the clouds. Carolyn screams as he goes but I’m oblivious to this as it’s now my turn. I’d asked Alex if there was any particular shoulder he’d prefer my head to be on. I did exactly as I was told. My legs were under the plane doorway, arms crossed and head on shoulder…..and then……
I wanted to scream but the rush of air is so fast that you can’t really do anything apart from feel your cheeks waving about. I stretch out my arms, arch the back and keep my legs underneath Alex (sounds like a rude novel but I can assure you it wasn’t). I have 45 seconds of freefall, initially spinning around and then when balanced just dropping like a stone. I can see the clouds and Lake Taupo underneath me. Suddenly with the air rushing in to my mouth I feel like I can’t breath. I am huffing and puffing like a pregnant woman going through a very painful set of contractions – thank goodness I didn’t get the DVD I’d have looked ridiculous. Of course he can’t see this so I’m following his thumbs up with thumbs up and hand shakes too, if only he could have seen my face. 45 seconds later he signals for me to put my arms in and he pulls the parachute. We shoot back up in to the air, this was my favourite part (after all it opened for a start). Most people enjoy the free fall but for me the unexpectedness of that did freak me out a bit. As soon as we shot up you can now hear each other speak, Alex just shouted out “Yo, Mustang Sally, how was that?”. How did he know my real name? Actually now is the time when you can enjoy the views, and I can breathe normally, he asked if I wanted to do a few turns, of course I did. A few minutes later we are reaching the air strip for a landing, I asked if we could land on a sheep (well I am in New Zealand), I think he thought I was being serious as he said we needed to land on the air strip. I lifted my legs and he slowed the chute right down. The landing was so soft and yes I am back on terra firma. More photos ensued. Adam had already landed and then it was time to await the others. Carolyn was full of smiles, poor girl had been paired with an instructor at the last minute so hadn’t really been told what to do. I think this may have been because she told her original allotted guy that he’d have to push her and he only gets paid if you actually jump, so I think he’d swapped to Dominique as that was a safer bet. She didn’t know about the banana so had gone out of the plane with legs and arms everywhere much to her boyfriend’s amusement. Then came Dominique and Andy. I was hard for any of us to get a word in edgeways we were all so ecstatic. I really felt like I’d had an outer body experience. My legs are like jelly. We then had to pay, which I suppose is a result, I mean if you hadn’t have made it as least you wouldn’t have lost any money. I felt pretty sorry for Lauren as it must have been hard for her to watch us go on and on about the jump. I decided to get my photos, attached is the one of me in the plane before take off and a great landing shot – can you see the relief ? We were then taken back to the hostel in a limousine, not bad for backpackers, another plus for doing your jump in Taupo rather than elsewhere.
Funnily enough I’d completely lost my appetite but I managed to eat a whole plate of bbq and drink a few wines (not too many). I’m knackered but elated – must be the adrenalin rush. I went to bed around 11pm and as promised had very strange dreams. One was my sister was pregnant again and my car had the flattest tyres in the world but I could still drive it. (I’m hoping these aren’t actual premonitions for when I get home).
Well I have to say I’d definitely do another one, well one day. My main concern is that with a skydive the instructor takes you out of the plane, with a bungy you’ve got to do it yourself….oh no there goes those butterflies again !!
Plane = 12, Bus = 36, Train =2, Boat = 10, Sunglasses = 5, Mosquito Repellant = 8
Take care all