353 Days on the Road
It’s with glitter all over the bed that Robin wakes up this morning. Unfortunately, this is not because of a crazy disco night, but because his broken arm is cast in blue fibreglass with a red spiral covered in silver glitter. He wears the colours of a fabulous superhero, so today’s activity couldn’t be more fitting. Flying through the sky like a superhero from 16,000ft with Skydive Bay of Islands!!
Skydiving with a broken arm
Yes, tandem skydiving is one of those strangely accessible activities where having a broken arm is no problem. In fact, Laura’s brother who needs the aid of crutches to walk did a skydive in New Zealand about a year ago. Of course, there are medical conditions that the tandem masters need to be aware of, but if you have an injury or medical condition and feel comfortable enough to skydive, just ask! You never know!
And on that note, we are driving to the Bay of Islands Airport in Kerikeri to start the adrenaline-fuelled fun. (Skydive Bay of Islands do offer pick-ups but we find driving ourselves more convenient).
The Skydive Bay of Islands hanger
We check-in with the Skydive Bay of Islands team on arrival, fill up some details on a tablet, then head into the hanger where the magic happens. There are people doing the impressive task of folding large parachutes into tiny bags, which looks like trying to fit toothpaste back into its tube, while outside, the last skydivers are swooping in from the sky making a colourful array of parachutes in the sky. That will be us soon…
Anticipation and excitement
Now, after doing three skydives on this 365 Days: 365 Activities trip alone, we wish we could say we were still nervous as we put on our sexy red jumpsuits and we are being harnessed up, but now we mostly feel excitement and anticipation. We know what weird feelings are coming and we’re not sure how anyone can feel totally relaxed about that!
meet Our tandem masters
After we watch a quick safety briefing video, we are meeting the beautiful strangers we are going to be strapped to. Laura has Andrew, the big boss man around here, while Robin has Morris the Irish man. Because we are getting full video packages, our tandem masters are really amping it up for the action cameras they have attached to their wrists. They’re a fun duo who actually help add to the experience! A fun tandem master only boosts the fun of a skydive.
This is where it gets real…
All geared up, we are walking with our tandem masters toward the small plane – one that has been borrowed by Taupo Tandem Skydive that we did just a couple of months ago, while the Skydive Bay of Islands plane is in repair. The plane has low padded benches to put your legs on either side so you are practically sitting on the floor, with our tandem masters behind us and our outside camera man and woman in front. The engine of the plane cranks up and the door shutter is slid shut. This is where it gets real.
We take off, and our tandem masters let us know when we reach an already alarmingly high 1,000ft – we have 15,000ft more to go?!
That insane moment when you leave the plane and let gravity do its thing
Swapping beach for inland scenery
Unfortunately the wind is too gusty for the Skydive Bay of Islands’ famous beach landing today, landing on back at the airport instead, so the views we capture are those of the inland Bay of Islands, which is mostly lush green farmland in between quite the scattering of clouds. We rise higher and higher above the clouds to a bright sunny day that The Bay is usually renowned for.
Let the insanity begin!
Our tandem masters are attaching our harnesses to their own, putting on oxygen masks while still in the plane, getting our goggles on, and taking some photos “before” photos inside the plane. Instructions on what to do are repeated in our ears just before we get in position to jump. Laura’s first, where she gets on her knees putting her into a position to look down and the distant ground below. Oh my God, Oh my God… You know how we were not talking about being nervous before, well now we are having nervous pangs and jolts in our stomachs. Let the insanity begin!
Freefalling at 200km/h from 16,000ft
Laura drops into the abyss, leaving Robin to go next. 3…2…1… WOOSH! We are facing the underbelly of the plane, then facing the ground. Our tandem masters tap us on the shoulder to look into his action cam wrist strap, which results in a little but of drool coming out the side of our mouths – that cannot look pretty. The outside camera guys come in close, egging us to do poses and gives Robin his time to shine. He can’t resist doing a superman pose with his superhero colours!
We continue freefalling at speeds of 200km/h and for just over a minute until the canopy shoots open and everything slows down. Phewwwww, our senses finally catch up with us but the adrenaline is still kicking. We are buzzing! Now, we have some fun swooping an spinning under the canopy on our way back down to earth. It’s a smooth landing and we are quickly detached from our tandem masters. One last comment to the camera, then we can officially say that we skydives over the Bay of Islands at 16,000ft. Epic!
An experience that leaves us buzzing back to base
The jumpsuits come off, we make an addition to the Wall of Fame, play with the dog mascot of Skydive Bay of Islands, and hit the road with USB sticks full of photos and a video of our crazy experience. No matter if it’s a once in a lifetime experience or you’re as lucky as us to have done multiple times, the experience can’t help but make you feel so alive. This is what a New Zealand gap year is all about.
It’s back to Base Backpackers in Paihia for us now. But tomorrow, we are flipping things around and going to the depths of the ocean to scuba dive at a shipwreck (or, one of us will be anyway). See you then!
Taking in the views under the canopy
Have you read yesterday’s post about cruising and kayaking to Haruru Falls? How about these articles?
- 8 Best Backpacker Hostels in Paihia
- Bay of Islands – Guide for Backpackers
- 12 Places to Tandem Skydive 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!