These were the words of the woman who helped us book our skydive with Skydive Taupo yesterday. SKYDIVING?! Yes, skydiving. Taupo is the adventure capitol of the North Island and we had been told by many travelers we had met if you were going to throw yourself out of a plane, this was place to jump. Before leaving the States, John was fairly certain he wanted to skydive. Erin, on the other hand, was pretty much against it. But, after many people told her how fantastic it was, including Newberg family members, she was convinced it would be worth the experience.
We arrived in Taupo expecting to be here for several days organizing the jump, waiting for good conditions, and perhaps taking a course on proper jumping and screaming techniques. To our surprise the concierge was able to call Skydive Taupo at 9:30am and have a limo here by 10:15am to pick us up (no extra charge for the limo, but it did have a license plate that read “JUMP US”). This quick booking was probably a good thing, giving us no real time to think about it or second guess our decision. The Skydive Taupo folks were really nice and made you feel safe about your decision to throw yourself from a perfectly good plane. Within an hour of being collected at our holiday park, we were suited up and boarding a bright pink plane attached to our skydiving instructor.
John and I chose to jump from 15,000 ft–the highest height you can jump from in Taupo–which meant 60 seconds of freefall followed by about 5 minutes of parachute flight. The flight up to our jumping altitude was beautiful. Lake Taupo is the largest lake in the North Island and is bordered by incredible, snow covered mountains. The view from above was spectacular. We were above the clouds! As we reached 15,000 ft a red light in front of us turned green and we knew we had very little time before that door would open and we would fall out of the plane. Sure enough, in minutes the door opened and the insturctors wasted no time in getting us out. John was second to go and Erin was third. It was quite an experience watching John fall out of the plane.
As you fall out of the plane, it disappears from view very quickly and you accelerate up to 125 mph in less than 8 seconds. It is extremely cold at that altitude and the wind chill makes it even colder. Our ears were popping and hurt and we were doing our best to follow our instructors directions and enjoy the ride at the same time. We didn’t really even have time to think about the chute opening and before we knew it the 60 seconds was over, we had fallen 10,000 feet and were now sailing smoothly over the landscape. The next thing we knew we were floating in the air, with our legs dangling, looking across at each other about 50 ft apart, laughing and enjoying the ride. And then our instructors took us into a spiraling dive-combine the biggest roller coaster and tilt-o-whirl into one ride and that’s kind of what if felt like (Molly would hate it).
In no time at all, we were being briefed on how to land and in what seemed like seconds, were back on the ground, still laughing and grinning ear to ear. The adrenaline and other natural drugs were pumping through our bodies.
Is it worth it? Yes and no. It’s probably one of the most expensive 5 minute adventures you can have but unlike any other 5 minutes you’ll experience in your life. Would we do it again? Probably not unless someone else foots the bill. It is cheaper to jump in NZ than back home which was part of our rationale for doing it here. Plus, Taupo is the informal skydive capitol of the world. In the summer months, they push an average of 400 people out of a plane every day with a nearly perfect rate of success. Just kidding, all the diving outfits have impeccable records. If you do decide to skydive, don’t read the warning label on the back of your harness. It provides very little comfort.