One can say turning 40 is a landmark birthday. A midlife crisis might be looming just around the corner, but in reality that's just a fancy term really...Is there really such a thing?
Now little did I know what was about to happen on my 40th birthday, but my wife had an incredible surprise in store. The forties would not be the new thirties for me, but rather the new twenties!
And so it went that on my birthday on 30 December, I heard I was jumping out of a plane...again! I had done a skydive in New Zealand about 15 years ago, and to date it is still the best experience of my life. I did my skydive in Queenstown back then, and the adrenaline rush is something I cherished forever, and thought "this is going to be a once in a lifetime experience." The backdrop of the Remarkables in Queenstown just provided the perfect backdrop as well. If you want to do a skydive, there's probably no better place than New Zealand.
New Zealand has a number of options to go skydiving, in my opinion the best locations for scenery would be Queenstown, Wanaka, Abel Tasman, Taupo and the Bay of Islands.
The skydive on my birthday was in Taupo, only a 2.5 hour drive from our home, with beautiful Lake Taupo and the spectacular volcanoes of Tongariro National Park in the background. Excitement and anticipation grew as we were driving, but it also turned into a little bit of nervousness once we arrived there and I got into my jumpsuit. It's pretty cool how family is allowed in the hangar and changing area as well. But touching anything on your suit is off limits...safety first! When my jump master asked whether I wanted the safest parachute or the more exciting one, there was only 1 option really : the exciting one!
Maybe one doesn't think so much at 25, but my life is a little bit different now with a family, so that certainly crossed my mind momentarily. I was also going to jump first in our group, so that meant just sitting right by the sliding "door" while we were climbing to jumping altitude. That made me probably the most nervous : not attached to the jump master yet, with just a plastic sliding door between me and the air...There was a guy in a full black jumpsuit with black helmet and all, a Man in Black...
Once we reached altitude there was no messing about...open went the door, and a 1, 2 and 3...and that was it...If there's something I didn't remember from my jump 15 years ago, well then this time I will certainly remember: ...emptiness...for that split second...complete emptiness and silence! In hindsight maybe this is why they call skydiving being in "godzone"..What a feeling!! But it only lasts for that split second, so grab it and hold on to it...because before you know it, all you feel is wind an an insane rush of adrenaline when you reach terminal velocity! WITH ONE BIG SMILE...FROM EAR TO EAR!!!'
It is only when we went through some clouds you get a sense of perspective and realize how fast you are going and how quickly you are approaching the surface...so once the jump master pulled the cord and the parachute opened, well a little sigh of relief anyway. It's more dangerous to drive to the airport than skydiving, but at 200km/h you'd be pretty much gone..It's pretty cruisy from then on and there's ample time to enjoy the beautiful surroundings.
To my surprise the jump master then let me steer the parachute...a strong pull to the left and we started looping around to one side, a pull to the right and off to the other side...
Once we landed, my wife awaited me with equal excitement...the ear to ear smile remained for the rest of the day, and an experience richer that will remain until the last of my days. A quote that I find quite fitting : "Don't buy things...buy experiences"
The staff of Taupo Tandem Skydiving were very friendly and professional...and we can highly recommend them for your ultimate New Zealand adventure.