Before I traveled New Zealand, I was so very sure that I would never do anything as ridiculous as a bungee jump… or a sky dive! I scoffed at the idea with thoughts of, “Why would I spend so much on something that could probably kill me?!” Little did I realise that New Zealands’ extreme-sporting-adrenaline-junkie nature would buckle my views and soon have me up in the skies, falling very quickly back down! Considering a sky dive? Here’s my experience so you know what you’re in for… do it with no regrets!

Getting up at 6am to get my bus to Taupo, New Zealand, seemed like the most extreme thing I was going to be getting up to that day. Little did I realize that during that journey, I would spontaneously grow the balls to jump out of a plane 15,000 feet above a lake, a mere 6 hours later. If someone had said that to me at the crack of that dawn, I would have laughed in their face and probably fallen asleep (drooling) on their shoulder.

During my bus trip from Wellington to Taupo, I had been texting my friend out of boredom. She was waiting for me up in the little town in the North Island and must have gotten pretty darn bored too as I suddenly received a message declaring: “I’ve signed us both up for a sky dive. You’re in, right?” Say what???! By the time I got off the bus (it dropped me right at the airstrip. These kiwis don’t mess around) I was calm… but the hyperventilating began again when I saw people falling from the sky above me (NB: they did have open parachutes so ‘falling’ isn’t quite the correct term). Soon I was in a dashing red jumpsuit with an equally dashing tight black flying cap and goggles. Then I was tied to a large strapping man. This just seemed like a series of unfortunate events which would culminate in me being pushed out of a plane.

Our instructors gave us a brief lesson in how to hold your figure when falling in the air and how to hold your limbs. I kept repeating ‘banana is best, banana is best’ to myself to remember what shape to bend my body, and we all clambered aboard a teeny white plane. It was seriously teeny with 6 amateur skydivers slotted inside, each one with a tandem professional skydiver leashed to his/her back, and the odd camera man who would be filming and photographing this fall for the few who had paid the extra.

Slowly but surely, the plane circled upwards. 4,000 feet…. 6,000 feet… 9,000 feet (Oxygen masks were surprisingly passed around. No warning about that while we were on the ground)… 12,000 feet saw two guys leap out but still the rest of us kept going up to 15,000 feet. It was time. And of course, I was right at the other end to the door so I had to watch everyone get sucked out while my tandem man slowly pushed me to the exit with me as a dead weight of horror. In all honesty though, my nerves weren’t too bad until I was tipping out of the doorway and I could see how immensely high we were and that I was…actually…falling.

My stomach dropped immediately and just kept dropping, which I did not think was possible. Think to when you’re falling asleep and then you jolt yourself awake by thinking you’ve fallen down stairs? It was like that but multiplied by ten and didn’t stop. My mind just couldn’t comprehend the concept of ‘free-fall’ until it was happening and I could feel my frail body literally plummeting down through the air. What a crazy terrifying rush.

The world seemed so small beneath me, but the reason for picking a skydive over Lake Taupo is crystal clear when you see the view below. A huge expanse of beautiful blue water stretches out with turquoise hues sparkling out at you in the strong Kiwi sun. Wow. Well, I would have thought ‘wow’ if I hadn’t been internally screaming.

Then the parachute was released and my sanity returned, and it was amazing! I had free-fallen for 60 seconds but it had felt like 5 seconds. The views of the green rolling land and the huge still lake were stunning, and I could finally breath with ease as my tandem man glided us gently towards the earth.

Sat on my bum in the middle of a green field with a giant parachute attached to me, I couldn’t believe that I, Sophie Saint, the girl who couldn’t go up more than 5 steps up a ladder, had actually plucked up the crazed courage to jump out of a plane. I was so stoked and chuffed with myself that I immediately was high-fiving and squealing with the others! The ultimate highlight though, was watching my best friend’s video of her fall: the most undignified but hilarious skydive I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing.

I don’t regret doing it and it’s the ultimate achievement in extreme sports for me! New Zealand is the ultimate destination for a skydive, and if you have the energy do a bungee jump as well. I still don’t quite believe that I actually did it, but every time I doubt it, I look at the photographs and cry with laughter:

image 1 via One Lonely Tree, image 2 & 3 via Sophie Saint, image 4 via Chavasse, image 5 & 8 via Alice Ashmore, image 6 via Magic Bus, image 7 via The Life Change Experiment.

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