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Published: December 26th 2005
James Bond?...more like Biggles!!!
As we drove into Taupo just before 4pm, the gathering clouds were looking like they might spoil the party. I'd put my name down for a Skydive
with Skydive Taupo, but with the weather worsening by the minute it was likely that we wouldn't be able to jump, and the afternoon was our only option as we were due to leave Taupo early the next day. At this point Lin was still sticking to her story that "there's no way she'd be jumping from a perfectly good plane!" (We'll see!).
Our bus driver Woz phoned up the dive centre and they confirmed that no jumps would take place that day, but as we had 12 people wanting to jump, we got Woz to talk the guy into putting on an extra plane early the following day.
In order to squeeze us in, we had to complete the formalities that evening, so we dashed over to the jump site in the bus, watched the DVD of Wozza's jump to see what we were getting ourselves in for, then signed on the dotted line. As it was at short notice we were split into two groups, so six of us were to jump
J's Skydive ii
Someone shut the door!
with another company, Taupo Tandem Skydive (TTS).
It was potentially our last evening intact (crumbs!), so we went for a meal at Pizza hut, then a group of us went with Woz to the Hells Gate hot spa's just outside Taupo. They were great, really relaxing and certainly took our minds off the following days events!
On the day of the jump we were picked up 15 minutes earlier than planned, so no time for brekkie. (Probably a good thing). Lin came along to witness the event and act as ground camera crew.
I got into my jumpsuit and harness, then had a quick interview with my Tandem master 'Elad'. I'd thought I was going in the second plane load, until Elad said "lets go!" and I was heading toward the plane. Only when I looked inside did it dawn on me that last in was inevitably first out...aaahhh!
After takeoff we climbed for about 15 minutes, checking harnesses were attached etc.. before Elad passed me an oxygen mask. It's illegal for Skydivers to go higher than 13'000ft without oxygen assistance, and we were jumping from 15'000ft..extreme!
Before I knew it, the light went green, the door was raised and
J's Skydive iii
Yes.. my legs still work!
I was pushed forward onto my knees by the exit. A quick smile for the camera then we jumped out and plummeted groundwards at up to 200km/h! An amazing feeling, and the freefall lasted almost a minute. (Enough for me to express myself with some choice words!) Then Elad opened the shute stopping our descent with a jolt. I was able to take the controls as we floated down, looking out across Lake Taupo towards the mountains of the Tongariro National Park, the location for the 'Mount Doom'scenes in the Lord of the Rings films.
It was a great experience and as the DVD shows, I would have gone again there and then. Unfortunately time and money were against us, so with DVDs,Photos and T-shirts sorted, Woz picked us up and we drove to the national park for the days scheduled activity, the Tongariro Crossing
. This was an 8 hour walk by NZs Department Of Conservation (DOC) guidelines which Lin and I completed in exactly six hours.
The walk was really enjoyable (Yes mum and dad, it is me saying that!), and not only did we see some fantastic scenery including the snow topped mountains,emerald lakes, and walked
Indians at Mount Doom?..that wasn't in the book!
across huge volcanic craters , but also we experienced the full range of weather starting with sunshine,then hail, snow, rain then back to sunshine. We were well prepared though with full waterproofs and thermals, so it wasn't too much of a problem.
That evening, our accommodation was the cosy Skotel Ski lodge equipped with two indoor spa's and a sauna . After a long and exhausting day, these were well utilised by the whole Stray group!
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