There will be one minute of freefall. The parachute will be opened at 5,000 ft.
These were a couple of instructions that were running through my head as the plane ascended for my skydive from 15,000 ft. with Nicola, a very nervous Chloe and John all in the plane with me. 10,000 ft. in one minute!
We left Waitomo that morning, with our illegal beers (we have not yet found a hostel which isn't dry!) nicely stacked up in the corner for the cleaners to discover, heading to Taupo. It would be the first place on our trip that we would stay for an extra day and we were looking forward to the idea of a lie-in and the opportunity for life to slow down a little: having been on the bus less than a week it was crazy to think how much we had already done.
We stopped off at the Ruakuri cave and the Shearing Shed on our way. The Shearing Shed specialised in shearing rabbits- necessary for these well coated bunnies to survive but also providing an array of crazily soft rabbitskin clothes. The breeds of rabbit (I forget the specific names) grow huge coats making them look more the size of a baby bear than what you would expect of a rabbit! They will overheat if their coat grows too thick so they have to be sheared about 6 times a year. It was odd to see a rabbit sheared and stranger still to see it stretched out in rotisserie fashion so that this could be done but apparently this is the safest and most comfortable way for the rabbits (a fact they insisted upon because many tourists take offense to this!) Definitely the strangest little visit on our bus tour so far.
The next stop before Taupo was Huka falls- where something like 6 million gallons of water flows per second (don't quote me on that, the number was definitely six but cannot remember if it was thousands/millions/billions!) Obviously thinking on more of a Niagara scale Shil was particularly unimpressed!
Once Lake Taupo and Mount Doom appeared in the background we were nearing our flight time and after a pretty nervous ride to the airport it really felt real. We would be skydiving within the next hour or so! A briefing video which mostly just worried Nicola and Chloe more, taught us the basics of what we needed to do but the "simplest" part (jumping out of the plane) seemed the toughest. I signed up to have it filmed and for photos to be taken of my dive and I'll post those up as soon as I get round to it!
The whole experience was just incredible: the nerves beforehand and then the fact that when it came to the big moment there was no time to be nervous. You got to the open door of the plane and then suddenly you had jumped out of it! It was a far nervier moment during the flight up when my instructor had waited until practically everyone had their oxygen mask on to begin putting mine together!
We were told beforehand that you might black out in the first 30 seconds or so and in all honesty I don't think I did. What was amazing was how quickly it was all over and how I spent a minute wooping and doing the Maori pose for the camera. How surreal.
When he parachute opened it was time to enjoy the view- one of the most breathtaking views I imagine possible- Lake Taupo gleaming below us and the mountains surrounding it on either side. Just WOW!
Safely landed we were invited into a cinema room to view our Skydiving videos which were both a good cringe and a laugh. We were buzzing- such a strange thing to get your head round that you've just jumped out of a plane!
We got back in a party mood and proudly put on our skydiving tshirts (which I then barely took off for 3 days!) and grabbed some beers on the rooms before heading to Mulligan's bar to celebrate the dive and Chloe's last night. A little boy-girl table football competition was started up and I was only too happy to beat Steve in the final with Crazy Maisey on my side. Steve bought us a round as we were the victors and not being at all competitive I didn't really care that we'd won!
I only did the fist pump once.
Dan / Burge