Let me be honest for a minute here….I have never been one to shy away from risky, adrenaline pumping activities. I’m more of a moth to fire when it comes to things that push my limits and challenge my rational fears. New Zealand is the perfect place to have the opportunity to be thrown beyond those limits and come out screaming on the other side!
Plane Jumping…Take 1
Or as others may more commonly refer to it…skydiving. I have been skydiving once before, nearly 10 years ago over a corn field in Ohio. Believe it or not, I actually got collegiate credit (1 hour) for taking a skydiving course! I can still remember the feeling I had with that first jump…the nerves, anxiety, and fear on the way up in the plane to 13,000’. But the minute I flew out of that plane and was freefalling those feelings were replaced with exhilaration, freedom, and pure bliss. After landing, the adrenaline was still pumping as my friend and I reunited as we had both survived one of the most amazing experiences. I always knew that I would do it again someday, but I told myself I wouldn’t do it until I found the right place…somewhere fantastically beautiful.
Plane Jumping….Take 2
I knew there were going to be several opportunities to skydive in New Zealand, but since I had already had the experience years ago, it wasn’t at the top of my list. As the journey went on I realized how incredibly gorgeous this country was, and I started thinking that this could be the location I had been waiting for to take my next jump. I started to ask locals and the various Stray bus drivers, which skydive is the absolute best. Queenstown, Lake Taupo, Lake Wanaka, Fox Glacier…everyone had good things to say about them all but, far and away, everyone agreed that if you had one shot, Fox Glacier was without a doubt the best.
Fox Glacier Village
Situated on the west coast of the South Island, against the Tasman Sea and Lake Matheson, within the Southern Alps, surrounded by lush rainforest, encircled by 5 glaciers, this is about the most beautiful location you could ever ask for when it comes to aerial views. Oh, and Fox Glacier skydive ranks as the 2nd most scenic skydive in the WORLD! It sits just behind Mt. Everest and unless you have a spare $35,000+ laying around for a random skydive, I think this one would be your next best option 😉
Once I learned all this, I knew I HAD to do it. I threw caution to the wind, signed up, and kissed my budget goodbye! As we got closer to Franz Josef and Fox Glacier the anticipation and excitement was growing. There was one concern that I had no control over, weather. Because of the beautiful location in a rainforest and on a coast, this brings a lot of rain and unfavorable flying conditions. They are only able to execute about 55% of the jumps that are scheduled – others have to be rebooked for another day….
The day we pulled into Franz Josef, it couldn’t have been a better day…blue skies as far as the eye could see! Yahooo! I, along with two other brave souls, were picked up and driven to Fox about 25 minutes away. We were given our flattering jump attire, a quick briefing on how to not screw up, and headed toward the (small!) plane to load up! I had one small request which my tandem jump guide was happy to accommodate. I have been traveling with a small stuffed boxer, which reminds me of my dog back home, Sawyer. I wanted him to jump with me and so we were able to strap him in for the jump too! 🙂
As we climbed up to a staggering 16,000’, about 4,000’ above the top of the highest mountains, I was overwhelmed with excitement. Maybe it was because I had jumped before, but I seemed to have nerves of steel. Maybe it was because my eyes were too busy soaking up as much of the beauty surrounding me as I could before we had to leave it all behind. At 12,000’ they gave us oxygen to keep us calm (and breathing), at 14,000’ the first jumper started getting ready, and 16,000’ after I watched two other plummet out….I was ready to jump! Hanging completely out of the plane, a faint countdown against the raging wind, a rock forward and back, and we were flying!!
It was absolutely incredible. It is so hard to put an experience like this into words. The scenery was enough to take my breath away, aside from the fact we were falling at over 120mph. The backdrop of this dive was night and day different from my first skydive, but the feelings and emotions were identical…exhilaration, freedom, and pure bliss. I also found myself realizing how incredibly lucky I was to be having the experience, living the life I am, and felt completely grateful. I think the video helps to convey my emotions better than my own words…..
Amy’s 16,000′ Skydive at Fox Glacier, New Zealand (you will be taken to the video posted at youtube)
P.S. Keep an eye out for Sawyer who may be joining me on some of my other adventures!!
Have you ever been skydiving? Would you do it?? 🙂