300 Days on the Road
It’s Day 300!! For this final major milestone of our 365 Days: 365 Activities, we need to do something EPIC! Luckily for us, this comes during the time we are in Taupo, which is considered the North Island’s “Adventure Capital”. One of those adventure activities is skydiving over New Zealand’s largest lake. Does that sound like an epic enough activity to celebrate Day 300?
We know we have missed a trick as we park up at the Taupo Tandem Skydiving base at the same time as the pick-up vehicle has just brought a group of people from town in none other than a Hummer limousine! Talk about arriving in style! Nevertheless, we head on into the bright yellow building at Taupo Airport and sign our lives away. It’s a quick form to fill out and read on a tablet, then the first group to be jumping today – that’s us! – is gathered by a one of the staff to go through the different skydiving options today.
Capturing the freefalling experience
First things first, we need to decide how high we want to go: either 12,000ft or 15,000ft. The staff member explains the differences each of those heights make on the experience. Next, we decide if we want a video package, if so, which one! It’s all about the “proof” that you have done such an insane activity! Even if you don’t capture your jump and get a t-shirt and certificate, at least you’re rewarded with a buff!
We opt for the full caboodle: our very own camera guy filming and taking photos, as well as a “selfie cam” with photos and video too! What’s more, the package includes a certificate and t-shirt or singlet at the end. All in all, our Facebook friends and family are going to “love” us after this!
Skydive preparation and meeting our Tandem masters
Packages picked, we enter a hanger where we get geared up with jumpsuits, then a mass of tandem masters surround us. Our tandem masters find us, Laura has Albert from Germany who’s jump count is at around 16,500(?!), and Robin has the banterful Andrew from New Zealand who is an AFF instructor and two times NZ champion, and the guys introduce themselves and have a bit of a chat with us while other dudes are harnessing us up. Oh yeah, and there’s a safety video going on in the background too. So much is going on around us (and to us) while we’re chatting away that we barely notice that we’re ready to skydive – this place sure is a well-oiled machine!
Taking off over the Great Lake Taupo
Our tandem masters take us outside for a quick interview for our videos. (Be prepared! You don’t want to stand their like a lemon). The filming continues as we make our way to the Taupo Tandem Skydiving plane, a small and sexy yellow plane. Everyone loads into the plane with their tandem master and straddle the low benches running down the floor of the plane. One of the camera guys slides down the hatch, the engine of the plane starts to roar, and we’re getting ready for take-off.
With windows all around the plane, we get some awesome views as we rise above the great Lake Taupo. Up here, we get to appreciate how large the lake really is! It’s so large that they say the Republic of Singapore could fit into this lake!! Soon enough, we are above the clouds, so the rest of the views will have to be taken in on the way down! Nevertheless, we’re pretty excited about skydiving through the clouds for the first time on this 365 Days: 365 Activities.
The preparation before the craziness begins
Throughout the plane journey, our camera men and tandem masters are capturing the moments of anticipation, which are getting all the more real as we are strapped to our tandem masters and are putting on our helmets and goggles. The time is coming…
The hatch opens. Laura is going first, her legs hanging out of the plane while one crazy camera guy is hanging outside the plane like in some crazy action movie. Her heart beats faster… Oh shit, this is happening. One last look at the exit camera, whether it’s an expression of excitement or pure fear, then boom. She’s gone.
The insane feeling of freefalling from 15,000ft
One second Laura is looking up at the underside of the plane, the next, the scenery is too mesmerising to not look at below! Albert has to bring her head back up and get her back into the game. The cameraman flies round and around us, then up close to fist-bump, hold hands, fly together like some insane freefalling dance.
Meanwhile, Robin is somewhere above her doing the superman pose, swimming in the sky, doing whatever nonsense he can to make the most of the cameraman! After a minute of freefall, the parachutes come up and the cameramen continue going down. Finally, our senses are coming back together but the adrenaline is still pumping! We have a quite interview with the camera while flying under the canopy, then our tandem masters give us some spinning action! Andrew even lets Robin control the spins!
Parachuting back to earth
Flying under the parachute also gives us unobstructed views of all around us, but the birds-eye-view from directly above is the most unusual – watching planes take off from underneath us and young pine forests making dotted shapes on the landscape.
We bring our legs up for landing, are detached from our tandem master where we can complete our videos with one last: “How are you feeling?!” We feel like we couldn’t have celebrated Day 300 in a more insane and adrenaline-pumping way!
Getting the booty
We watch as the rest of the skydivers swoop down from the sky, then we are going back to the hanger to get out of the harness and jumpsuits, and check out our exit photos! We pick up our goody bag of t-shirts, buffs, certificates and, of course, a USB with all our photos and an edited video. We did it! We skydived at 15,000ft over New Zealand’s largest lake!
How do we move on after this?!
Walking back to our car feeling like we don’t know how we are going to go on with our lives after this (perhaps with more skydives, because that was awesome), we calm down by eating some sandwiches then remember that we need to check into our hostel!
Taupo Urban Retreat is right in the centre of town with off-street parking around the back. We check in and lounge out in a sheltered courtyard with lots of natural light, a bar area, and a cool place to get out the laptops and take a look at our hilarious videos of us skydiving. We did not know the skin on our necks could move like that!
On that note, join us tomorrow for a jet boat ride to New Zealand’s gnarliest set of rapids with Huka Falls Jet. Join us then!
Have you read about that time we sailed to the Maori rock carvings on Lake Taupo? How about these articles?
- Taupo – Guide for Backpackers
- 12 Places to Tandem Skydive in New Zealand
- 11 Epic Activities to do in New Zealand
Until tomorrow’s blog post, be sure to check us out on the HerePin app, we also post travel tips on Facebook, as well as pretty NZ pics on Instagram. Join the Facebook Group to ask us questions, buy/sell, and find travel buddies.
See you tomorrow!