For the next couple of days we were to become Adrenalin Junkies as we reached Queenstown – the adrenaline capital of New Zealand! This was the part we were both hugely excited about but secretly dreading at the same time.
After spending our first night in Queenstown at the Queenstown Top 10 Holiday Park, we were up early and made our way to MacDonald’s for a ‘pre-dive breakfast’ as today was the day we were going to be skydiving! It was something we had both wanted to do and surprisingly I was calm about it. We’d booked this ages ago so I think I’d worked my way through all the fear and now just couldn’t wait to get it over and done with.
After filling up on breakfast (and hoping that we wouldn’t be seeing it again whilst falling through the air) we made our way to the NZone office. We checked in and were offered the chance to upgrade to the higher fall of 12000 feet. I quickly said no, 9000 feet was as high as I was prepared to go. Looking back now, I’m not sure the extra 3000 feet would’ve made that much difference. Once your up that high everything looks small! We were then placed into a room with all the other crazy people that were willingly throwing themselves out of a plane. We were asked to sign a form. Barry just signed it without reading it, I decided to read it all and instantly regretted it. In a nutshell it said ‘If you die, it’s not our fault – it’s a very dangerous sport which can result in a whole host of injuries including fatality’ Great, glad I read that! We then got to watch a video of other people doing the dive. This started to make it all the more real and I think the reality started to sink in of what we were about to do. It was too late now though as shortly after we were bundled into a mini bus and driven to the dive zone.
Once here, we were put in a little waiting room where they had free Wi-Fi for you to say your last goodbyes and make sure your will was up to date. Barry Skyped his Dad, (I’m sure Barry was more nervous then I was) and I messaged my sister. I hadn’t told my parents what we were doing as I knew that my Mum in particular would just worry herself silly. We had about a 20-minute wait, as we were the second group to go up in the plane. All of a sudden our names were called and off we went. We were introduced to our ‘Jumpmaster’ just a quick ‘hello my name is’ and then they strapped you up in the harness, fitted you with a hat and gloves and disappeared off, presumably to make sure the parachute was ready. We then met with our cameraman, who gave us a quick interview on camera and then our names were called to start boarding the plane. I was still feeling relatively calm at this point. I still can’t understand why I was so calm. Under normal circumstances, anything to do with heights would leave me with sweaty palms, a racing heartbeat and just pure dread. I’ve obviously gotten over a lot of my fear since riding in glass bottom cable cars and climbing stupidly tall mountains!
As we all piled into the plane, I soon realised that I was the nearest to the door. I said to my jumpmaster, ‘are we first?’ He said no the guy next to me would be, which I was relived about. Barry was behind me so I knew I would be jumping before him, but I was glad about that. At least this way I wouldn’t have to watch him plummet to his death if the chute didn’t open. The plane took off and we went up very quickly. At this point I still wasn’t strapped to my jumpmaster so I started to look around to make sure I wasn’t the only one – what if he forgot to strap me up?? Barry told me later that he was thinking the exact same thing. The plane quickly rose into the air and suddenly we were surrounded by snow-topped mountains. The door was right next to me and it was see-through so I could see right to the ground below. Everything looked so small; I knew we would be jumping soon.
Suddenly my jumpmaster started strapping me up. This was it, we were about to jump. I still felt reasonably calm; thinking the guy next to me was going to be first out. Then my cameraman opened up the door and my jumpmaster started nudging me forward. What?? I was going first?? They’d lied to me!!! As I got to the door, I took a quick look back at Barry, then the fear set in. I was told to keep my head back, but I couldn’t help but look down below me as I was sitting on the edge of the door. We’d also been told to put our legs together and rest our feet on the underside of the plane. I didn’t have time to do this, I was rocked back once, then twice and before I knew it I was falling through the air getting up to 200 km per hour in just a couple of seconds. My stomach turned and I screamed as I was doing a roly-poly 9000 feet up in the air! Then the pilot chute came out, a tiny parachute, which keeps your balance, so you’re not falling through the air upside down. At this point my jumpmaster tapped me, which meant I could stop holding onto my harness. The wind was so strong I could barely move. I just about managed a thumbs up. At 9000 feet you have 25 seconds of free fall. I thought this would feel like the longest 25 seconds of my life but it was over so quickly, I barely had time to take it all in. The parachute was released and up into the air we went. Then it was just plain sailing down to the ground. Everything prior to this point just seems like a blur, but from here I was able to take everything in. It was amazing, seeing the snowy mountains and the grassy land below. After just a few minutes, we touched down on the floor, landing on my feet! My cameraman was already down there and when he asked me how it was, all I could muster was ‘it was good!’ I was still in shock and couldn’t quite comprehend what I’d just done. I looked to my left and saw Barry landing. We’d made it!!