The view from 12,000 ft

Having finished exploring Thermal Wonderland (see previous post), a quick phone call to Taupo confirmed that the weather was as good there as in Rotorua and the decision to ditch our afternoon plans and drive the 50km back to Taupo to go sky-diving was a no-brainer.

After the first company we rang were fully booked we briefly feared that our hopes would be dashed by everyone else having had the same idea, but fortunately the second company had some space later in the afternoon. After arriving at the airport we spent the time waiting for our turn to come round watching groups go up and come into land—they all made it look so easy. We also got to watch the parachutes being packed which was quite interesting! Finally our turn came round and we put on some very fetching bright-red jump suits and a variety of safety gear which had large ‘WARNING — Sky diving is dangerous’ labels on them before climbing into a small plane with two other travellers with a lemming-like desire to put their lives at risk and the various tandem dive-masters and camera-men.

There was a beautiful view as the plane flew over Lake Taupo, although the nerves finally kicked in when I realised that while we appeared to be quite high, the altitude meter worn by the guy in front of me said we were only at 3,000ft! The crew kept everyone distracted by passing around cameras and making us do silly faces and before I knew it the door to the plane was open and Andy & his tandem had disappeared out into the clear-blue sky… There was only one other diver between Andy and myself and suddenly I found myself sitting at the edge of the plane with my legs hanging out into 12,000ft of nothing-ness! The image of the ground being a very long way away is fixed in my mind as the next thing I knew I was hurtling through the air—head first—towards it. Initially the fall was completely disorientating, I had no idea which way was up, but as the tandem-master brought us horizontal I was able to focus my eyes again and wow….what a view! 🙂 After about 40 seconds of free-fall the parachute opened, at about 4,000ft, and we gently floated down to the ground admiring the amazing views of Lake Taupo (which is larger than Singapore), the distant snow-capped volcanoes and the fantastic NZ countryside.

Safely back on the ground, I had this awesome buzz for the rest of the day—I think I really might like to do that again sometime. 🙂