Monday, April 6, 2009

Skydive - Taupo, New Zealand

13th-15th Feb

Unlike Turangi Taupo is set up for adrenaline and partying with the largest lake in New Zealand thrown in as a backdrop. I booked into the tiki lodge backpackers and while doing so asked if it was possible to do a skydive tomorrow. 'No problem' she said 'Just come down tomorrow morning and we will sort you out' GULP! I went up to my room and had a lie down.

At about 5pm one of the people in my dorm turned up and intorduced himself as Paul from Scotland. He had just done the skydive and said it was the best experience ever. I told him I was going to book one the next morning but he persuaded me to go online and book one straight away - before they got booked out. I duely did that and then met him at the local Irish bar for a couple of pints and food. Well when I say a couple I mean a couple of couple of couple of pints. We got talking to a couple (not pints but people this time - although I probably was talking to my pint by the end of the night) from Scotland who had also just done the skydive.

The next morning I said goodbye to Paul who was, coincidently, heading to South America - my next port of call. He also went and bought the exact same hiking boots as me in the same shop in Christchurch on around the same time

I settled down to wait for my skydive which was not until 2pm - nearly 4 hours away. At 12 o'clock I rang the company to confirm that I would be doing the skydive (nearly chickened out) and was promptly asked if I could come earlier. Hell yes lets get this over and done with.

At 1 o'clock I was picked up by the skydiving company's shuttle (another Scot only this one did not have the same footwear as me - so it wasn't spooky). I was soon at the skydive site getting weighted. 90 KILOS! All I can say is that I was wearing a lot of clothes that day - honest! I had also to decide which option to pick for the jump 12,000 or 15,000 and whether I wanted a cameraman to jump with us. I decided to go with the full works - 15,000 plus cameraman. What the hell you only live once (not the best thing to think of at that moment).

After all the paperwork (disclaimer, next of kin etc) I was lead through to wait for my jump and wait I did. I think I spent about an hour in the hanger as jump after jump went ahead - I even had time to go online and update my facebook status:

Raymond Finn is waiting at the skydive centre so he can be thrown out of a plane at 15,000 feet - OH BUGGER!!

Finally it was my turn and I got kitted up with all the gear. I was going up with a swiss couple and an English girl who was petrified which actually made me feel alot better. Off we went to the plane - all 12 of us and there was lierally no more room on the plane for anybody else. As we flew higher the skydivers were all joking and taking footage on their camcorders. At one point my tandem partner said we were 1/3 of the way there. I nearly fainted when I looked down at the trees and Lake Taupo below us - 1/3!!! When we still had about 5,000ft to go everybody got serious and we were stapped into our tandem harness - which meant basically sitting on my instructors lap - very cosy.

Finally we got to our height and the doors were opened. I was the last one to go - after the English girl. I had to turn my head and smile at the inside camera as my legs dangled out of the plane at 15,000 ft!

Before I could say I DON'T WANT TO DO IT! My instructor had flung us out of the plane and we were somersaulting through the air. I can't remember anything about the first 5 seconds but eventually I realised what was happening as I peered down at the lake and mountains below us. It was a spectular view and took my breathe away. My instructor had to grab my head so I could look at the cameraman as all 3 of us fell at 200kph. I was having a ball and started to relax - I even jokingly started to swim through the air.

All too soon the parachute opened and we started drifting down. My instructor had to adjust my harness which meant that I had to drop slightly in the seat - That was pretty scary! After that we started drifting down to ground. Every now and then he would make us twirl around in the air which meant we floated down even faster. I was starting to feel slightly uncomfortable in my harness (lets just say it was crushing a couple of things) so I was quite happy when we landed with abump - my instructor made a bit of a balls of the landing and we ended up on our arse.

I was still full of adrenalin for the next 10 minutes as we went and seen our dvds before purchasing. I had to hang around for my shuttle which was the same Scot. On the way back he told me of an English pub along the front which had the best pint of Guinness in Taupo. So once I got dropped off I made my way there and had a local pint instead with my staple bangers and mash.

That night I proudly put on my free Skydive teeshirt (Well you would expect something free after handing nover nearly $500NZ!) and went back to the Irish bar. I was soon surrounded by a bus load of KIWI Experience people and ended up with another night on the tear.

The skydive was probably one of the best things I have ever done and I would certainly do it again if I got the chance.

Here's the photos - even though I've put them up already!

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