Falling for New Zealand

May 9, 2011 by Jayne Gorman

New Zealand: a veritable playground for adventure sport enthusiasts. Zorbing, bungee, caving, sling shots, luging (if you are not sure what these are just google!) – the list goes on. It’s hard to visit this country and not take part in some terrifyingly scary, adrenalin releasing activity. My adventure activity of choice was sky diving. I had already fallen for the beauty of New Zealand’s scenery, so I took to the skies, was hauled out of a plane by the giant Kiwi I was strapped to and began falling for New Zealand in a completely different way.

100% FAKE smile

My lips were stuck to my teeth. My cheeks were puffed up like a hamster. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t hear and I couldn’t really see because my goggles were far too tight. For one whole minute I was free falling, ungracefully and seemingly uncontrollably towards the New Zealand landmass. At a height of 15,000 feet you do not have any real perception of distance. The land seemed a very long way away and I felt like I was suspended in a giant wind tunnel.

Getting ready to jump - the hands say it all!

Another diver popped into my eye line. He pushed a video camera into my strangely contorted face and the performer in me is awakened.  I am swimming, and waving, then summoning magnificent strength I outstretch one arm in front of me, the other behind, and I am Superwoman!

Anything to avoid thinking about the fact that I am hurtling through the sky.

There are no words to describe the feeling of freefall. I can however describe the relief, the flooding relief, released in conjunction with the parachute, which for one whole minute you are terrified will never open. And then, finally, follows a feeling of calm. Your heart rate, which has been pulsing at an unhealthy rate since you woke up that morning and remembered you had signed up to do a skydive, begins to return to normal. For four whole minutes I could take in the view from 15,000 feet, parachuting peacefully over glacial lakes, majestic mountains and the stunning greater surrounds of Lake Taupo.

Take in this stunning scenery from above

Popular skydiving spots in New Zealand include Queenstown and Auckland. I jumped over Lake Taupo, approximately 3.5 hours drive south of Auckland. Flights to Auckland take from 26.5 hours from the UK, with most stopping over in Asia. For a less scary activity in Taupo see guest blogger Candace’s post on hiking the Tongariro Crossing!