9th April 2007
Well people I have a very busy week to tell you all about and am ridiculously proud of myself, mainly because I defied all aspects of human nature on Friday and was thrown out of a plane at 12,000 ft on my first (and definitely not last sky dive) – big pat on the back for me!! Before I give you all the detail of my daredevil feet I’ll fill in the blanks from my last entry. The last time I wrote we’d just got back to Auckland from our trip to the Bay of Islands and were about to leave for Rotorua.
We got the coach to Rotorua nice and early on Wednesday morning – the company we’re traveling with is really good because they stop at different activities along the route, so you can fit them into your travel time and you’re not sitting around aimlessly on a bus all day. We stopped at a place called Waitopu on the way and were offered the chance to do Black Water Rafting. It’s nothing like it sounds, you go down into a cave where there are loads of glowworms and you do a bit of caving – and then with a big rubber ring on fall into loads of water pools in the cave. It was really fun although they kept making us turn off our headlights so that we could see the glowworms better which was a bit worrying. It was a really good afternoon and I have so much more respect for people who do proper caving now. We arrived in Rotorua in the late afternoon and although we’d been warned were still shocked by the smell of the place. Because it’s set on a volcanic site you get really strong whiffs of sulphur when you’re walking round and the smell can only be described as rotting eggs – not pleasant at all. That evening we went to a bar called the Lava Bar for a few drinks but it was quite quiet so we had a fairly chilled evening.
On Thursday morning I decided to banish lazy Sam so got up and went for a run around the town – although it was difficult as I kept being hit by whiffs of the smell!! That afternoon we went to a place just outside of the town called the Agrodome where they have some extreme rides and things to do. The first thing I decided to do was a freefall – it’s a simulation of a skydive (good preparation I thought) you lie over a giant wind tunnel which pushes you into the air, and simulates the feeling you get when you freefall during a skydive. I had some instruction on a bench before I went on – I was told what position to be in and the man taught me a few hand signals that he would use to get me to change my posture when I was out there. Surprise, surprise when I got out there I completely forgot everything he told me and so the two guys just held on to my feet and hands and tried to manouvere me into the right position!! It was fun though – although the wind made my face do some funny expressions as you can see from the photos. Next after the freefall I was supposed to go on a ride called Swoop with Laura – you get in a sleeping bag type contraption and get pulled back 45 feet by a bungee cord before being released and swinging along the ground. As those in the family already know I’m not very good on swinging rides – I always used to feel really sick on the Viking ships at the fair – and I’m not great at plummeting to the ground – I hated Oblivion at Alton Towers. So with hindsight this probably wasn’t the best ride to have chosen!! Laura and I were strapped into the “sleeping bags” at which point I freaked out and refused point blank to go up. Luckily Tom one of the guys who worked there went up with Laura instead and so got me off the hook. After seeing how terrified she looked during it I can safely say that I made the right decision. The other ride I did at the Agrodome was called Zorbing. Laura and I were put in a giant inflatable “hamster ball” with loads of warm water at the bottom and pushed down a hill. It was absolutely hilarious we giggled like 12 year olds all the way down. Although people watching could see you in the zorb we couldn’t see out so had absolutely no idea how close we were to stopping – so much fun.
After our exciting afternoon we spent the evening at a Polynesian spa, because Rotorua is a volcanic site there are loads of geysers and natural hot pools everywhere. The spa was amazing it was $20 each (about £6) and for that we had access to 7 different natural hot pools of varying temperatures. The temperature in the evenings here really plummets so it was lovely to sit in the hot pools overlooking the lake – I don’t think I’ve ever felt so relaxed. Although when we left we discovered that Laura had been bitten all over her face by mosquitoes, which was rubbish but they’ve gone now.
On Friday morning we had another early morning start to drive to Taupo where we would do our skydive. As we got on the bus our driver, Chops, said “so girls do you want to do a skydive this afternoon”, so we booked to do it there and then – very spontaneous! We drove to a thermal park where there were natural sulphur pools and geysers and we could watch a geyser erupt – it was quite cool but it really stank and we thought the $22 entrance fee was a rip off. Our next stop on the bus was a place called Rock ‘n’ Ropes where for $10 you could do a trapeze and some other activities – by this point though the sky was crystal clear and we only had 2 hours until the skydive, so I just sat on the grass feeling really worried and nervous. I’ve never wanted to see a cloudy sky more in my life (if it’s too cloudy they cancel the jump). We were picked up to be taken to the airport for our sky dives about an hour later. When we got on the minibus I was feeling a bit calmer and was even managing to talk again! At the airport we were given the option of either jumping from 12,000ft (from this height you have a 45 second freefall) or 15,000 ft (60 second freefall). Laura and I opted for the lower jump and decided to pay to have a man with a camera jump with us and record a DVD of the jump. It was a bit more money but we decided that we would always regret not paying that bit extra. We were fitted with our jumpsuits and introduced to our Tandem Masters (the skydivers we would be strapped to for the jump), mine was called Kane and it turned out that he had to have the patience of a saint to get me through the jump!! As soon as my jumpsuit went on I started feeling what can only be described as absolute terror, in fact I think my first words to Kane were something along the lines of “Please don’t let me die”. I started crying because I was so scared and the tears just wouldn’t stop. Kane managed to get me onto the plane and we were at the front – it wasn’t until we took off that I realized that meant I would have to jump first. Despite his best efforts to distract me I sobbed (yes full on cried) all the way up in the plane, he was so good holding my hands and hugging me to calm me down. Writing it now I’m cringing with how much of a wimp I was!! After about 25 minutes we reached 12,000ft and the door right next to us opened. I could be heard clearly saying “I don’t want to do it, I don’t want to do it” as Kane maneuvered me so I was sitting on the edge with my legs tucked under the plane. Before I had time to think we had jumped!! For the first couple of seconds I felt like I couldn’t breath and then the adrenalin took over and I absolutely loved it. The freefall seemed to go really quickly and before I knew it the parachute had opened (big sigh of relief from me!). When the parachute opened it was amazing, it didn’t really feel like we were moving at all and the view over Lake Taupo was breathtaking, we couldn’t have chosen a better day. We landed safely and it was without a doubt the best 7 minutes of my entire life – it is absolutely impossible to describe to anyone the exhilaration you feel when you’re flying through the air. I’ve decided I’m definitely going to do another jump over the glaciers in the south island – I can’t wait!! I’m still buzzing from it 3 days later.
I followed my exhilarating skydive with a 17km walk across the Tongariro Crossing on Saturday. It was amazing I felt like I was on Lord of the Rings. You could definitely see that it was filmed here. It took 5 hours and I was absolutely shattered (at the highest point we had climbed to 1900m) but it was definitely worth it – I think New Zealand is definitely going to be all about the activities!!
Yesterday Laura and I celebrated Easter Sunday with an egg each and hot cross buns. We spent the afternoon at a natural hot spring which was amazing and the weather was beautiful – I still missed stuffing myself with chocolate eggs before my sister got chance to eat them all for me though!!
Sorry the ending is quick but my minutes are about to run out on the internet. We’re now in Wellington – Hayley is flying over to New Zealand and gets into Auckland today so we’re staying here until she meets us and then we’re getting the ferry to the south with her. Hayley’s out for 6 weeks so I have a friend for a bit longer yey!!
Love you all lots and lots sorry this is so rushed.
Big hugs and kisses for all of you.
Miss you all.
(a very wimpy) Sam