[TL;DR: It’s awesome! Video and more photos at the end of the post!]
This morning I was super brave and signed up for a skydive here in Wanaka, New Zealand. I had never skydived before and wasn’t really sure what to expect. My guy instinct was that the freefall would be rather like riding a roller-coaster with that stomach-churning feeling you get. How wrong I was!
I was picked up at my hostel (YHA Wanaka) by the team at SkydiveWanaka at around 9am and given a free ride to the skydive centre. Upon arrival, the friendly staff instantly make you feel comfortable and talk you through the various options. They have a lot of different packages you can pick from. First you choose your jump height: 12000ft or 15000ft. I went for the 15k. You only live once, right? Next you can choose bundles of photographs/videos if you wish. The most expensive option is to choose both video/photos from your tandem skydive buddy and also to have them taken by a second person who jumps independently from you. I decided to pick both as I really wanted to remember this well. You also get a free t-shirt with this bundle, which I am totally wearing with pride right now.
Once you’ve picked your package, you watch a safety briefing with lots of good advice. It tells you how to position your body for the dive – head back, hips forward, legs back – shaped like a banana or if you’re doing a limbo. It also tells you how to land once you’ve safely parachuted to the ground.
From there, it’s time to pop on your jumpsuit, store your belongings securely in a locker and get harnessed up! One of the girls from Skydive Wanaka helped me into my harness. They keep it looser at first as that’s more comfortable. I only waited a short while – long enough to play a game of adrenaline-fuelled pool with one of my fellow jumpers, then my camera man arrived. His name was Timmy and he introduced himself and we had a chat. He told me how he’d be filming and explained we’d record a little interview for the start. Shortly later, my jump-buddy/tandem-person/dude-I’d-be-strapped-to-while-plummeting-to-the-ground arrived. His name was Rory (I hope I heard the names right – sorry to them if I misheard). We had a good chat and talked about the skydive etc. I instantly felt very comfortable around both the guys. They were friendly, fun and reassuring. At this point, my few nerves started to vanish and I was full of excitement!
We boarded the plane and started our spiral up to 15000 feet! At 12000 feet, one person did their skydive and a few of us bravely ventured higher. At around this height, you’re given an oxygen mask to wear as the air is so thin! The cabin isn’t pressurised since people regularly have to jump out, so your ears pop quite a lot. All the way up, we took fun photos and the guys pointed out interesting sights (lakes, Mount Cook, Mount Aspiring etc). Rory spent a lot of time fiddling with my harness too, making sure it was nice and secure. He reassured me he’d keep me safe and I trusted him completely.
At 15000 feet, it’s time to jump out the plane! We scooted forward, tightly harnessed to each other and sat in the now wide open door of the plane. I had my legs dangling over the edge, looking down to the distant land below. A few seconds to get in position (go go banana!) and we were off!
Slipping out of a plane is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced and my preconceptions were completely wrong!
Preconception 1: I expected to be *terrified* and unable to move. It was the complete opposite! The excitement took over and all I wanted to do was leap out the plane!
Preconception 2: The 60 seconds of freefall would be really scary and give you that stomach-churning feeling of being on a rollercoaster. I was totally wrong. I didn’t experience that feeling once. All you feel is the wind in your face and a major adrenaline rush as you race towards the ground!
The freefall was an amazing experience. It’s really loud and hard to stop your face from blowing around like a dog leaning out a car window! But it’s so smooth and fun. I was grinning the whole time!
After your freefall completes, your partner will release the parachute. This caught me by surprise a little! I was enjoying the freefall so much I didn’t expect it to happen. This was probably the only bit that was mildly uncomfortable, but only for a brief moment, as you change velocity rapidly. Once the parachute and our speed had stabilised, everything went silent. I could talk to my buddy and admire the view. We did some fun spins and silly photo antics, and before I knew it, we were ready to land.
Knees up, feet pointing forward, we landed – smoothly, gracefully, sliding along the floor on our bums. And with that my experience was over.
I want to say a huge thank you to the team at Skydive Wanaka for making this the most amazing experience of my life. And a big thank you to my friends who encouraged me to do this. If ever you’re in Wanaka/Queenstown, make sure you do this.
I can’t wait to do my next skydive!
Here’s the video from my skydive – it shows everything from starting on the ground, the flight up, the leap out, free-falling and landing. It’s 8 minutes long and shows the perspectives from both my skydive-buddy’s gopro on his wrist and the one of my separate cameraman who got the cool shots with the landscape:
Youtube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1Us_Crt1hw