What a day! Really should apologise for the ramble, but as I’ve said before this is my diary as well as a blog to share!!
Woke up at 6:45am and instead of leaping out of bed I lay and whatsapped Helen for a while (friend from home who has travelled around NZ and loved it, she’s also skydived!!). Speaking of skydiving….. this is why I’m awake so early. I am terrified of the idea – why throw yourself out of plane??? But I signed up to do one as a result of everyone telling me I should do, kind of thinking I should do (hate letting fear stopping me from doing something, unless it’s jumping onto a box Jel!!) and after hearing about the jump in this location I figured if I was going to do it any where it should be here!
So, after a shower, a hairdry (the luxury) and a quick breakfast it was time to go wait for our pick up. Nine of us were jumping and Mr Smith was going as a spectator.
It was super chilly this morning, I had 4 layers on, t shirt, thermal and 2 jackets!!
We all waited in reception, milling around nervously, no one really talking! The guy picked us up around 8 and laughed at our quiet nervousness. The drive over to Fox Glacier took around 30minutes, bombing through amazing scenery on really windy (twisty turny) roads.
We arrived at the airfield and there was a tiny plane sat on a tiny runway – suddenly it was all very real! We all had to fill in forms signing our lives away, get weighed, decide what height to jump from 16000 feet) then head over and get into our jumpsuits – they do have a practical, not just a fashion, purpose, not to say we didn’t all look amazing!! We were helped into our harnesses – never been dressed with such care and attention – given gloves and a sexy leather hat (a frapp hat) and goggles to wear.
Turned out my tandem man, Nico, was also the one who’d strapped me in. I was glad as he seemed lovely and not too serious! After a quick safety briefing Nico took me to do a quick bit of filming (I’d opted to get a DVD and photo set of the whole thing – I say opted, Helen made me and Gary offered to pay!!).
Team Sweden and Ben went up first, was cool to see the plane take off and them parachuting way in the distance – the landing area was about 7km away from where we were.
They were soon back and then it was my, Tim and Beth’s turn. Nico and I were in the back of the plane (well, furthest away from the door, but actually closest to the front as we were sat backwards), Beth was next to me and Tim was closest to the door. You sit on your tandem man’s lap, it’s all very cosy! As we went to take off, Beth and I tipped forward and instinctively grabbed each others hands!
The view out of the window was amazing, you could see the sea, beach, mountains and the glacier – was a beautiful sunny day.
As we got towards 12000 feet I was given an oxygen mask to wear and got to see my new friends fall out of a plane. Tim looked petrified as he swung his feet out of the plane and my stomach leapt for him as he disappeared. When it was Beth’s turn I didn’t watch her go, too scary.
Then it was just Nico and me. I asked him to fill me in on what happened next…… we had another 4000 feet to climb. Soon we’d take off the mask, slide forwards to sit beside the door, put my goggles on (he warned me they’d steam up but clear as we left the plane – he was right) then the door would open – he didn’t mention the flashing green light, I hadn’t noticed it for the others, but saw it for me – the door opened, it was time to swing my legs outside the plane, tuck them under the step, hold onto my harness and lean my head onto Nico’s shoulder and hope for the best!!
We were sat ready to go, I felt strangely calm, total trust in a man I’d known for maybe 30 minutes, my bum slipped off the edge of the plane and was then suspended in the sky attached only to him. After a quick rock back and forwards, ready, steady, go……. we were out of the plane and falling! A second of fear and I opened my eyes to an amazing sight – remembered to keep my head up and saw, not the ground rushing up to meet me, but an awe-inspiring panorama – the sea, beach, fields, path of the river, mountains, lakes and a glacier!
I had around 60 seconds of free-fall, once I closed my mouth (the rushing air making it really dry) I felt only excitement and awe. We moved around slowly taking in a couple of 360 views – it seemed to last for so long – the extra 4000 feet made all the difference. We were up over the height of Mount Cook and with it being such a clear day could see for miles.
When the parachute opened I didn’t know it was happening and it really did feel like I was floating back up! I know I wasn’t/couldn’t but it was a very strange sensation. This part was super fun and after I took my goggles off we played with the handles on the chute, spinning around, it felt like a really cool theme park ride, lots of squealing with laughter from me.
We had a quick practice of the landing position – feet out in front – we were going to land on our bums and slide – Jel, abs of steel came in handy!!
Finally it was almost over, waving to Beth and Tim who were both safely down and it was time to land….. Feet up, bottom slide, squealing, laughter and the urge to do it all over again!!!
We had a couple of seconds to enjoy the moment before we had to spring into action – chute off, high 5 the guys and back into the van for the instructors to go up again.
Got back to see the guys that had already been up and the trio of Germans, Sophia, Toby and Raphael, who were yet to go. Was great to chat and relive our jumps. Gary was there, got over his nerves about me going up and had had fun taking pictures of the plane!
He wanted to go in a helicopter and see the glacier so once the others were back and we’d got our photos we headed into Fox to find a company with helicopters! Helicopter found, I’d spotted an amazing looking bakery with massive pasties – adrenaline had given way to hunger!! Sat in the sunshine with the world slowly warming up – apparently the ground temperature had been 0 degrees when we’d jumped.
I got to go see the helicopters take off, they were gone for 30mins giving me time to chill out, send some pinches and punches and have a lovely snoozette in the peace and quiet.
Got the shuttle bus back over to Franz Josef – a random guy driving a bus just stopped and asked us if we were going that way, not sure how he knew!!
Got back did some laundry, caught up with some of the guys back from a walk and wrote this essay!!!
We met the others for dinner back in the bar – I had chicken laksa, yummy, but not spicy. Left soon after to sort packing out and watch The Hobbit!