Lake Taupo, and maybe a little extra.
Trip Start Oct 01, 2007
99Trip End May 07, 2008
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From Rotorua we spent about 45 minutes cruising to Lake Taupo and the town of Taupo on it's shores. Again the road down was dotted with advertising for all kinds of adrenaline sports and activities. They're just mad for it over here. Like lake Rotorua there's lots of Airplanes and helicopters buzzing around all day long. The skies of New Zealand have to be some of the most populated skies in the world with all manner of light aircraft and helicopters. We booked into another "Top Ten" campsite (a chain of camper sites throughout New Zealand) and headed out for the day to check out the town and activities. The truth is we were only here for one reason and it was time to bite the bullet and get on with it so off to the airfield outside of town we headed. We had earmarked a company back in Auckland called Taupo tandem skydives. With the weather so nice and not a cloud in the sky for the next two days we figured what else would you do. So after a brief chat with a couple of the girls working there (one from Sligo) we signed up for first thing in the morning and headed home with beating hearts.
Next morning we got up and headed out to the airfield to have breakfast and a few moments of relaxation before we went into the TTS offices. Just signing up is the hardest part as we found out when we headed in for our kit fitting and briefing. We had signed up for the 15,000 foot tandem with an instructor which included a full 60 second freefall. After a little bit of standing around we met our Tandem masters and our own individual camera men or in my case a girl. Lou got Albert (tandem master) from Germany and Andy (camera man) from New Zealand while I got Ian (tandem master) from Wales and a girl who's name I cannot pronounce or spell from Japan. They kitted us up and gave us all the instructions we needed. Basically all we had to do was get in the plane and smile. They do absolutely everything else which leaves you with only your nerves to concentrate on. Everything from walking in to loading up in the plane took about 35 minutes. Which is good for anyone who is absolutely bricking it cause I doubt you'd have much time to think of anything.
So into the plane we jumped past the smell of engine fumes and we all shuffled into our places in front of our TM's all snug with the camera men and women sitting on the floor at the tail of the plane. They video eveything for your DVD from getting kitted up to your landing so we were all sat in the narrow plane bunched fairly close together awaiting our exit 25 minutes later at 15000 feet. Most of the TM's and camera operators are pretty mad in the head and they were passing around a handycam getting our faces and reactions on it. Poor Lou had been placed right beside the door (which was closed for the ascent) but which meant she was most likely first out. You don't get to choose really. It just happens that way. So after some sightseeing over Lake Taupo and beyond we had finally reached our height and the door was swung open. Up shuffles Lou in front of her TM and before you know it they're out the door followed straight after by the other four of us in the plane. Holy jeebus. Lou was on her knees before she exited as she had a tall TM but my TM was a little smaller and stockier (meaning he could stand in the door) so he decided to hold me hanging out of the plane for a second before we went flying. Lou lost her breath at the door on exit and until she came out of the initial tumble. I just shouted "Holy Fuck"!! We had been told that we may feel disoreientated for about 5-10 seconds at first but neither me or Lou felt that. From about two seconds in we were laughing shouting and loving every minute of it. Falling at 200km ph is an unbelievable rush. The camera people fly in and around you and come up to shake your hand and give you high fives. We tried sticking out our tongues for camera shots but it dried up in the wind so quickly you couldn't keep it out for fear of it sticking to your lip. Our cheeks were sore from laughing and smiling and not to mention the clown faces the wind impresses on you at 200 km an hour. Even if you wanted to make your own funny face you'd probably end up looking normal again. There's a monumental amount of things we would love to do during the freefall if we could afford to do it again on this trip because 60 seconds goes by far to quick. Before you know it you can feel the tug of the parachute and the camera people shoot off below and you're flying 5000 feet up. 10,000 feet dropped in 60 seconds. Absolutely awesome. After the freefall the parachuting is just a chance to relax and take in the view. Lou didn't much like the swirling around as she found it dizzying but once her ears popped she was fine. In my case I spent half the time talking shit to the TM and using words like "awesome" and "thanks Ian" far to much. I couldn't help it I was so giddy. Lou landed first on her bum in the grass followed a couple of seconds later by me again on me ass! Probably the first time either of us wanted our "two feet on the ground"! After a big hug and high fives we all took our last photo for the DVD and headed in to get undressed and wait on our DVD's and photos. I'm hooked and we'll deffo be looking into doing it again if the funds will allow. Easily the best activity we've done this trip or to date for that matter.
We spent the rest of the day chilling by the lake on the beach talking and trying to remember the feeling of flying like a bird....... What more could you do after that but hit the lake for a swim. It was after all, 26 degrees, and we needed cooling down after all that excitement.