132 Days on the Road
Wanaka Airport, you have been teasing us for too long with the crowds of parachutes falling above you! Hell, we even attempted to skydive a few days ago, but now… It’s finally going to happen… We’re finally skydiving in Wanaka! To make things more epic, we’ll be freefalling as the sun is rising. Let’s do this!
Skydiving the sunrise
So we finally leave the Wanaka Bakpaka while it’s still dark. Our skydive is at 7.00am but by getting there early, we get to witness the transition in the sky from darkness to fiery red clouds to low sunshine. It dramatises an already dramatic event in our lives. While most people would put the covers over their head and roll over in disgust at the thought of skydiving before 9am, we can do nothing more than recommend the sh*t out of it! Hell, there are even people here today skydiving at 6am all up in those fiery red clouds, as we speak!
Safety briefing in true airplane style
We arrive at the Wanaka Skydive dropzone ready to go! We check in, have our weight recorded, and watch a safety, albeit old-school, briefing DVD in a room designed like the inside of a passenger aircraft. Our safety cards are tucked in the seat in front of us and we stow all logic in the overhead compartments as we decide we want to jump out of a perfectly good aircraft.
The great thing about tandem skydive is that you don’t have to worry too much about hindering your own safety. The main thing to remember as you start your freefall is to put you head back, stick your stomach out, and get your gangling legs behind you so you look like the ultimate banana.
Scared of heights?
But, wait, wasn’t it just the other day that Robin was sh*tting his pants at 300m during the climbing those wild wires? How is he feeling about falling from 15,000ft?
Well, something weird happens with skydiving. Knowing that someone else is controlling you from the plane, and being guided every step of the way from suiting up to jumping out of the plane eases his fear. Additionally, how can you have any depth perception at 15,000ft? You don’t! You don’t look out of an aircraft window on the way to New Zealand like: “Ahhhh! Oh my Goooodd, we’re so highhhh!!!! Help me!!” That just doesn’t happen.
When there’s no fear crippling you, that leaves room to feel STOKED!
Sexy red jumpsuits
After inputting our details on a tablet, we are given a sexy red jumpsuit and taken into the hanger. Two lovely ladies are waiting to put our harnesses on and get us pumped for the skydive with a rendition of the national anthem and Robin dancing to it – true story. All the while, we can watch the crazy people who skydive for a living folding up their parachutes from the other side of a fence.
Jumpsuits on and looking like Formula 1 drivers, we are helped into our skydiving harness and have a hat, gloves and goggles strapped to our back. From there, we can sit either in the hanger or in the “hanging” area outside to hang out and watch the previous plane loads fall from the sky.
Wanaka below and a perfectly good aircraft above!
Wait no longer!
It’s hilarious listening to people “whooping” in the sky! An array of colourful parachutes fill the sky. We can’t wait for that to be us!
And we don’t have to wait long! Our jump masters and “beautiful strangers” introduce themselves. Indeed, they are beautiful, Laura gets the wonderfully hairy Malachi and Robin gets the gorgeous Jeno!
We join four or five other people with their jump masters and cameramen in a wonderfully orange plane with the words aptly painted on its side: “Let’s Rok”.
The hatch closes… This is it… Until the hatch opens again… Then that will be really it.
Climbing to the clouds
The plane takes off and we steadily climb higher and higher over fields, then Wanaka town, then high enough to see Lake Wanaka and the not-too-distant snowy mountains of the Mt Aspiring National Park. Ab-sol-utely stunning.
All sorts of shapes are being thrown beneath us: rivers meander below us and we swear we see some fenced areas that are shaped like a heart from an aerial view. The plane ride gives us plenty of time to take it all in. We even have time to have a casual chat with our jumpmasters. It’s cruisey.
Then, a guy pulls the hatch up… This is really it!
We watch as people drop out of the plane one by one. Friends behind them shouting words of what we can only assume is encouragement. It’s too windy to hear anyone else other than our beautiful strangers.
On the edge of the plane, Laura sneaks a peak at the view below just to see if that adds to the fear factor… (It kind of does, actually). Then it’s head back, hands on the shoulder straps, and…
Robin watches her drop into oblivion. He’s next.
Ugly backpackers attached to Beautiful strangers
It starts as nonsense! The first couple seconds of freefall is pure nonsense. We’re rolling around in the sky until all of a sudden we are on our front. Because we have been so lucky enough to skydive before, this allows us to gather our senses together more quickly than last time and feel the rush: the wind pushing against us, giving us the sexiest of faces. (Now we know what Skydive Wanaka calls their jump masters “beautiful strangers”, because of course they look beautiful with their helmet and visa keeping their faces together, while Frenchy Robin goes back to his roots looking like the freakin’ Hunchback of Notre Dame! We bet the beautiful strangers call us the “ugly customers”!
Anyway, stupid thoughts aside. We are free falling!
Parachuting dream team
The parachutes releases a bit quicker than we expect. Our jumpmasters loosen our harnesses a bit so it’s more comfortable for the ride down.
“There’s your husband over there,” Malachi says to Laura. Indeed, Robin and Jeno are parachuting just mere metres beneath below us! We shout all sorts of lovable abuse to each other. How cool is this?! Instead of having an experience completely to ourselves, we have the unique opportunity to share a bit of the experience with our travel buddy.
A downwards spiral
Then it’s time to do some parachute acrobatics. Our jumpmasters mess with us, pulling the parachute into downward spirals making us whoop and scream and any other relevant noises.
Coming into landing, we lift our legs up but can land standing up. With feet firmly on the ground, we can finally get the rest of our body and thoughts together to exclaim how awesome that was! Skydiving just gets better and better the more times you do it And, hell, it starts out pretty freakin’ epic.
We want to tell the world how awesome skydiving is!
Regrouping in the hanger, we give our harnesses to the girls, who ask: “How was it?!” Of course, when you have just done a skydive, you want to tell everyone straight away!
Who needs coffee in a morning…
We can now say we are well and truly wide awake to get on with some work for the rest of day… Forget about coffees, if you need something to sharpen your brain in a morning try a skydive.
For the rest of the day, we work and soak up the views of Lake Wanaka from Wanaka Bakpaka for the last time before we leave for Queenstown tomorrow! Join us then, when we’ll be making a quick stop in Arrowtown!
Yep, yep, yep! If you liked this blog post, maybe you’ll live these:
- 12 Places to Tandem Skydive in New Zealand
- Wanaka – Guide for Backpackers
- 11 Epic Activities to do in New Zealand
See you tomorrow!