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Skydiving in New Zealand – Why Not Jump Out of A Perfectly Good Plane?

My Day started with Skydive Tapou picking me up in a Limousine.

This was a nice start to the day, but I was nervous for what was to come next.

There is a saying, “ When in New Zealand, do as the Kiwis do”….errr or was that Rome? I don’t know. I need to brush up on my life is short quotes.

Either way, New Zealand, a country, packed full of adventures such as bungee jumping, skydiving, glow worms caves, and rafting, is a mecca to adventure travelers like myself.

That is….Normally!

As the propeller of the tiny pink plane turned over, I felt a not so adventurous shiver run down my spine. The plane started its slow crawl onto the runway before picking up speed in preparation for its 20 minute ascent to 15,000 ft.

Skydiving in Lake Tapou

Somehow I had decided that this altitude was just right for jumping out of a perfectly good aircraft. *Slap hand against forehead*. “At least I got see see the vibrant rolling hills of Hobbiton before I die” I thought.

Yep, I was about to make my first skydive over the gorgeous mountains of  Taupo, New Zealand. It was a perfect day for Skydiving in New Zealand. And I was ready to get a great view of some a beautiful place the world has to offer from the air.

I never before realized that twenty minutes is an extremely long time to contemplate your immediate future. I quickly reflected on my life lessons I learned travelling the world.

I kept repeating Skydive Taupo’s logo which was plastered on the side of the plane, “Fear Is Temporary. Achievement is Permanent.” One of the best adventure quotes.

My skydive instructor, a tall Australian with a beard that would rival Zeus himself, scooted close and started fiddling with buckles, tightening straps, and checking cords. “At least I wasn’t alone in this,” I thought.

It felt like a group of espresso fueled butterflies were running a marathon in my stomach, but overall I wasn’t nearly as nervous as I envisioned myself.

Forcing the butterflies to subside, I tuned my head to face my dive partner, Amos, and got up the nerve to ask, “How many jumps have you done?”.

Closing my eyes, I turned back around and held my breath, I hadn’t been this nervous about someone’s answer since the cops said they weren’t going to take me in Russia.

If his answer was anything under 100, I knew it would thrust my fear level from ‘proceed with caution’ to ‘abort mission status.’

“9,000,” he replied as I exhaled a sigh of relief. I could hear the smile in his voice as he said, “You have nothing to worry about.

This is my office.” He motioned out the window to the beautiful cloud covered mountains, the deep blue lake, and the rolling green hills of New Zealand. “Damn. I thought my nomadic office of beaches, coffee houses, and hostel common rooms were good. This guy’s got it made!” Now this is a travel job that I want! 

View from my Skydiving Plane

He pointed to the snow covered mountain jutting past the clouds.

The sun reflecting on the snow made the mountain appear half gold.

“It’s Mt. Doom from Lord of the Rings and a spot where the Hobbit was filmed,” he said. Being a massive Lord of the Rings fan, the thought of skydiving over Mt Doom replaced all my nervousness with excitement. Then the plane door slid open. This isn’t what I had in mind when I wanted to go backpacking through New Zealand.

A gust of cold air hit me like a hard slap in the face. The sobering reality of the situation clamped down on every synapse in my brain. Suddenly this skydiving thing took on a new level of realness.

I watched almost in a daze, as three different skydiving pairs sat on the edge and then in a split second, disappear on a speedy descent towards the massive, solid object below – earth.

From behind, my tandem partner pushed me across the seat in a massive scoot, waking me from my stupefied state. Instantly, a wave of emotions shot through my head. Anxiety pulsated through my veins. Strangely, I was conscience that my body was numb while my mind urgently screamed that this was totally insane.

All my determination went into not shouting, “Hey Beardman, STOP scooting us to the edge of the door!”.

After a couple more scoots, we were unbelievably sitting on the ledge. Looking down, I zeroed in on my legs dangling 15,000 feet above the world.

I knew I had to get control.

Closing my eyes and taking a deep breath, I cleared my head of everything but one simple thought. ‘I want to live this moment entirely’.

I lifted my head as the adrenaline of life conquered all my fear. I felt myself start to lean forward and ever so gently, somersault out of the plane.

I was flying!

It took a second to register and to come to terms with the rush of my thoughts and feelings.

First, I noticed that it felt more like floating than falling. Fear was conquered by a wave of massive adrenaline and yet at the same time, peacefulness.

As I took in the landscape, the wind beat across my face. My lips curved into a smile and I started screaming excitedly. (Which is why, my face, in the video is red and looks like I am going to pass out).

My guide and I tossed and turned as we took in the unrivaled view of Lake Taupo in the early morning sun, a view that only New Zealand can provide.

Then we started playing with the camera, giving thumbs up, gnarly signs, and showing off the writing on my hands (Adventure Rocks). Garth made a gesture and I knew he was asking if I was comfortable enough to do some spins.

“Yes please!”, I gestured. We spun around the lake and mountains behind us and the bright green hills in front of us. In the 60 seconds of free fall, I felt free and alive.

I felt a tiny jerk as the parachute caught us.

Now we were gliding slowly back to the ground, which was perfect since I wasn’t in any rush.

As we landed, I eagerly thought, “Let’s do that again!”

Skydiving lets you live in the moment. You don’t think about everyday life, worries, or any problems you are facing. They simply don’t exist there. It just you, your guide, adrenaline, and one hell of a view. It is one of the most exciting and liberating things I have ever done.

The adrenaline buzz lasted all day for me. I was a little uneasy going into skydiving, but now I can’t recommend it enough.

If you are ever in New Zealand, I suggest doing your skydive at Lake Taupo for a few reasons.

1- Skydive Taupo was extremely safe. The staff is friendly and the dive partners make you feel comfortable throughout the whole process.

2- It is the cheapest place to skydive which is helpful for people backpacking in New Zealand.

3- The views are amazing! Lord of the Rings fans get the opportunity to skydive over Mt. Doom.

4- If something goes wrong with the filming equipment or you get less than 300 pictures, they refund your video cost.

5- They Pick you up in a Limo!

So what do you think now? Would you skydive?

49 thoughts on “Skydiving in New Zealand – Why Not Jump Out of A Perfectly Good Plane?”

  1. A resounding NO–I doubt you could even get me on that tiny plane!! When I first went to college I took a nice big jet to Chicago-then had to transfer to a tiny itsy bitsy 13 seater to continue on to Wisconsin–I took one look and turned around to walk away when the pilot saw me and called to the other passengers (all male except for one other woman)–they corralled me and literally carried me into the plane where I was placed near the pilot. I was petrified the entire trip–those trees were awful close to the bottom of the plane–From then on I took the bus (a very long trip 8 hrs if I remember correctly) back and forth from Chicago to Wisconsin! Adventurous-me? I don’t think so!!

  2. I hear it is a really amazing experience.. but i am not good with these kinds of things.. I really like the pictures!!

  3. Terri Ingraham | Sugar Free Glow

    My son wants to do this so badly! It does look like fun and what an amazing place to do it! Thanks for sharing!

  4. The plane I went skydiving out of years ago was rickety and old. The plane was more frightening than the jump. The jump I loved! Your post was awesome!

  5. Looks absolutely fun! I really like the quote, fear it temporarily and achievement is permanent. Couldn’t have agree more! 🙂

    Does your ear hurt from the rapid drop in altitude?

  6. Christine Denton

    Before reading this I would have answered with a very quick NO I would not skydive. However, after hearing this about your thoughts before during and after the dive, I have to answer with a maybe. I would like to add it to my bucket list for sure, but I don’t want to go do it right now lol.

  7. I would love to go to New Zealand, but I’ll leave the skydiving to you. Thanks for the fun photos!

  8. Wow! that is a REAL experience…it’s on my bucket list and the feelings you have described are great… I was surprised when you said: “more floating than falling”, like if you were on board of a ship! 🙂

  9. Great to hear you had such a fabulous experience Stephen.

    I took a Skydive in 2008 in Cairns, QLD. It was a truly exceptional experience which I’d love to do again at some point, I’m sure I will.

    I do freak out a little bit looking at my video as my cheeks are wobbling all over with the G force, not a pretty sight.

    I don’t think I jumped from as high as you did and we certainly didn’t do any rolls, other than the initial exit from the plane. I actually really enjoyed the parachute part over the sky dive part. It was just so incredibly peaceful, quiet and relaxing. It hardly felt like falling at all.

  10. I applaud your insanity – I mean bravery! Considering that I have a “Tales from the Anti-Adventurist” series on my blog, it’s safe to say that my future wild New Zealand activities will likely include nature walks, beach combing, and sampling local honey. That’s as crazy as it gets for me!

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