Anyone who has been to New Zealand would probably have heard this from one of their peers: “You are going to NZ?! You got to try skydiving!” Otherwise, they would have been influenced by the countless recommendations online about how New Zealand is the “skydiving capital of the world”.
I had the luck to encounter both, and have been harboring thoughts of striking this “to-do” off my “bucket list” (not that I actually have one at the present moment). And what better place to do this than in Taupo?
This little adrenaline city is known to operate the most tandem skydives out of anyplace in the world, and boasts coast-to-coast views of the largest lake in NZ (Lake Taupo) with the snow-capped Mt.Doom from Lord of the Rings in its background.
Not to mention, also the most important point for a budget backpacker like myself, it is the cheapest place for a skydive in the whole of New Zealand!
I had high hopes of trekking the best one-day hike in New Zealand, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, but the unpredictable winter weather had dashed my hopes of the trek, despite sticking around in Taupo for an extra day.
With the money saved from not being able to attempt the hike, I decided to just go for a skydive. It wasn’t planned, but when I woke up and saw that the skies was crystal clear, I walked up to the reception at my backpackers, and asked to make a reservation for the skydive. Before I could even register what I had done, the car from TTS was already here to pick me up.
I had no mental preparation at all, it being a last-minute decision, but strangely enough I felt no fear, just a whole lot of excitement buzzing through my head. Considering that I am someone who backs out from roller coaster rides because they look too scary, this is indeed a strange phenomenon.
After deciding on the height, I sat around fidgeting with anticipation. Being winter, there wasn’t as many people trying to jump out of planes, and that gave me the liberty of hounding the staff with questions such as “Has anyone died while skydiving”, “Can I back out while on the top”, “What if I black out while skydiving”, you know, just perfectly normal questions.
The efficient staff not only patiently humoured me, but I actually had the whole plane to myself for my skydive! (Additional reason why traveling to NZ during winter might be a good idea)
For those who don’t know, there are two different video packages available for purchase at TTS – the handy cam or the free fall cam. The handy cam is strapped on your tandem master’s hand and will only be filming you. The free fall cam (generally producing the more spectacular photos) means that some else jumps alongside with you for filming. However, it will feature everyone else who is in the same plane. So that means lucky for me, I will have my video consisting entirely of no one but me!
And of course, everything went on rather quickly once you have decided the package. Plane flies up, I squeal excitedly, tandem master (Joe) teases about not succeeding on several jumps, videographer jests around about how Joe has the worst record in TTS, Joe tells me what to do, Joe pushes me out towards the door of the small plane, and out we went…
The view was nothing short of magnificent. I could make out the mountains, and the small little houses as we neared to the ground. And while people commonly say that the point in time before free fall was the scariest, I felt nothing but joy. Pure joy that I was able to experience all the beauty of the world during my short time in air.
From making the call to finishing the jump, it took a mere 1.5 hours. Accompanied with the breathtaking views, lovely photographs and my only-person-in-the-plane video, this has got to be the smoothest skydive ever! I would have never imagined saying this, but I definitely want to jump out of a plane again.