Lake Taupo lies in the center of NZ’s North Island. About 1800 years ago, the area of Lake Taupo was a volcano that erupted in an enormous explosion. The resulting hole in the ground became Lake Taupo after it filled with water which drained off the surrounding hills.
After a cloudy start in Napier we arrived in Taupo with a warm and sunny welcome. We wandered along Taupo’s center and the shore of the lake and enjoyed the beautiful weather.
Back at the hostel we prepared a delicious barbecue dinner on the patio:
Once again accompanied by a bottle of NZ wine:
And while the sun set over lake Taupo we planned the upcoming itinerary…
Like most people, we have always wondered what it would be like to fly. As a child or in dreams it is the easiest thing: You spread your arms and take off into the sky or off a cliff. Skydiving is pretty much the closest mankind can get to this dream, and survive the fall. The first to realize mankind’s dream of flying was probably Icarus. He had to find out the hard way that flying is not entirely without risk when he flew too close to the sun. Luckily the materials of modern skydive parachutes do not involve any wax and with millions of jumps a year it is a fairly safe sport.
We had made up our mind some time ago to cross skydiving off our bucket lists in New Zealand and after some research had decided to jump over Lake Taupo. Not for nothing is this jump site known as the “world’s most stunning dropzone”, surrounded by snow tipped peaks, the clean, fresh blue of Lake Taupo and a stunning sea to sea view.
Having made all the arrangements the day before we were picked up in a stretch-limo:
There was lots of space in the limo, but unfortunately we couldn’t find the chilled champagne! Wouldn’t have been bad to calm our nerves 🙂
After we arrived at the little airport of Taupo we were briefed with security instructions, signed various disclaimers and decided on the jump package.
The use of parachutes dates all the way back to 90 B.C. in China when a man tied several large conical straw hats together and jumped out of the tower and landed safely on the ground. The first European construction of a parachute-like device was made during the reign of King Louis XIV of France in the 1680’s. Later on it was Joseph Montgolfier of France, who in the late 18th century, first gave significant meaning to the modern use of the parachute by testing his device while jumping out of a hot air balloon. As so many other inventions the military advanced the development of parachuting technology during the 1st and 2nd world war as a way to save aircrews from emergencies aboard balloons and aircrafts in flight, and later as a way of delivering soldiers to the battlefield.
Just as the companies logo, the plane was pink too… This little plane would soon bring us up to an altitude of 15’000 ft (~4’572 meters):
Then we got dressed up in nice blue jumpsuits and were harnessed up. Since we were skydiving over a lake we had to wear life vests (to not end up as Icarus) and due to the height we were equipped with oxygen masks, which we used during the flight up:
We also got to wear these chic skydive leather caps:
After the outfitting we were introduced to our skydive instructor whom we would be strapped to. Andy’s instructor was Lez:
And Tini would jump with Scott. Besides our instructor each of us had our own camera man jumping with us and taking pictures of us during our free-fall.
After boarding the aircraft and take-off, the plane circled and quickly gained height. Since each of us had a window seat we could already enjoy the great views while circling higher and higher into the perfectly blue sky.
Compared to the bungee jump we weren’t too nervous. We were already strapped to our instructor and so far the flight had been just as any other flight, just in a somewhat smaller plane…
Once we had reached 15’000 feet we heard a shout from the pilot crying, “Door!” and the people closest to the hatch opened it. Each jump-party slid towards the door and soon vanished from our sight. When it was our turn the procedure was pretty simple: You scoot right up to the edge of the plane’s door and sit down on the floor with both of your feet dangling over the side. This is the time when you suddenly realize that it is not a “normal” flight and you will be jumping…
The wind hits your feet at about 160 kilometers per hour but you have a 80 kg guy strapped to your backside, so you’re not going anywhere. You also don’t have much time to decide if or when to jump. In that moment the impressions are just overwhelming. On the one hand you’re anxious and a bit scared, on the other hand the view is just beautiful. Even though you are seeing mountains and craters and lakes the ground looks nice and flat and full of green trees and farmer’s fields that surround the deep blue lake.
Before you know what’s going on your instructor got you out of the plane and you are flying through the sky with slightly over 200 km/h. Whohooo!
Andy jumped first and on his face you can see how overwhelmed he is:
Tini’s jump followed right after Andy! It’s just mind-blowing to sit at the edge of the airplane, have a last look down and then you’re already flying through the air:
and enjoying your free-fall towards earth:
It’s enormous to see a seemingly endless horizon where the clear blue sky never quite touches the ground:
After a much too short free-fall the instructors opened the parachute by pulling the rip cord and we felt a tug in the harness that slowed us from 200 km/h to 30 km/h in less than a couple seconds. We began a slow descent to earth and we both got to steer the parachute by pulling on two strap handles. Pulling down hard on one of them for some time set us off into a spiral and the horizon started spinning before our eyes and one could really feel the centrifugal forces tugging!
The last few meters our instructors took over again and made sure we landed safely and close the airport landing area:
And shortly after Tini landed safely as well:
What an amazing experience! After landing you can’t yet realize everything that happened and you keep thinking back how incredible the entire skydive was…
A big hug for Scott, for bringing Tini back down to earth:
That evening we relaxed and kept discussing our skydives. We laughed at the pictures and couldn’t get enough of sharing our experiences of that great adventure!
With the GPS tracker we recorded our flight up and the jump down. You can see both on this interactive Google map:
Here the entire elevation profile of the trek:
And the altitude profile of the jump versus the elapsed time. You can nicely see that the free-fall took just about 70s and how we slowed down once the parachute opened:This entry was posted in Australia, WorldMap