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Published: December 5th 2018
We arrived in Nelson and walked to our hostel. By the time we put our bags down, it was about 4.30pm and we didn’t have enough time to go for a walk before meeting our American friends Matt and Julian for my birthday dinner. We went to a nice pub and had cocktails/beers and dinner - including desserts (plus an additional free dessert I got as it was my birthday, that we all shared). On the next day, we were going for the craziest adventure of our trip!
We got picked up at our hostel by Mike while Shaun was eating something that looked like chocolate bread but turned out to be something more like seaweed bread! Our driver was confused because he expected to pick up two additional people, so we waited for a bit before leaving. We then drove to Motueka air field, near Abel Tasman, a journey which took about 30 minutes. Once we arrived, we joined our American friends, Julian and Matt, whom we had met in Picton. One of them, Matt, had actually been peer pressured to join us on our adventure and didn’t look happy! We walked in, spoke to the receptionist and, after
a few minutes wait, we put on our jumpsuits and got geared up (full body harness). We took some pictures as souvenirs before having to sign our lives away - and agreeing to all the terms and risks, including using oxygen masks. We were them introduced to our tandem masters, shaun jumped with Evan and I jumped with Rod. We were given the safety instructions and ushered to a very small aircraft. We had to sit backwards, between our tandem masters’ legs, and I had another tandem master between my legs. Shaun had trouble getting in the plane as it was very small!
The plane then took off.
As it rose above the runway in this airfield I’m the middle of nowhere we admired the breath taking scenery that is Abel Tasman. While our instructors helped us make the most of admiring the view, we couldn’t help but think about what’s to come. As we enter the plane we are told when we would exit. Laurine second, me third.
2000 feet up and we could see the unforgettable beauty of the Abel Tasman national park.
5000 feet up felt much higher as we watched the
ground sink further and further away.
10000 feet. Clipped on. Clipped to our instructors as we were told what to do. Head back, legs back like an arch.
13000 feet. Oxygen masks on. Goggles on.
16500 feet up. Oxygen masks off, doors slide open. A cold breeze sweeps through the aircraft.
Julian disappears. Not sure where he went. Laurine is ushered to the door... And she soon disappears too.
“Our turn”, Evan says as we pull ourselves to the door. With little room to move it’s like he drags you to the exit of the plane. Your legs hang out of the plane in a moment that both lasts forever and is over in a split second. Looking up into the sky. Legs hanging out of a plane at 16500 feet...
And you jump. Actually, you don’t really jump - you’re just tightly attached in front of the instructor and he jumps for you! Apart from the split second when your body realizes what is happening and you have a quick sinking feeling, the rest of it didn’t feel terrifying at all. It felt really good! The 70 seconds of free fall didn’t feel that long.
It was a bit hard to breathe and the sensations reminded me of the ones you have when underwater. I screamed and moved my arms around like the wings of a bird and then I took a Wonder Woman pose - which I was stuck in because of the wind and my instructor’s arm. And then, the moment I was worried about, at 4000 feet, he pulled the parachute. There was a soft jolt and he loosened our straps - we were now in a standing position. And then we were just gliding, enjoying the views. Rod played a bit with the wind and we turned on ourselves a few times and veered left and right. At that stage, my eyes were watering a lot and my ears hurting quite a bit - equalizing unfortunately never works for me and I always struggle when I take the plane. We walked through a cloud (I actually pretended to be walking), and passed through a rainbow (I was IN the rainbow!!).
After the cloud, when the mist cleared, we were very close to the ground - about 500 meters (we jumped at about 5000 meters high - sorry I still can’t talk in feet!). Rod pointed to me where we where going to land and it came quickly. He explained that I had to lift my legs up and we were going to land on our bottoms. And then, it was over. There was grass, and people. We were back to reality. Rod gave me a hand to help me up - I had balance issues for a few minutes. I walked to Julian until Shaun landed (he landed on his feet and just walked off!). Once Matt had landed too, we left the runway. That’s when I started feeling sick - my ears were hurting and I had a horrible headache. The sensations lasted the whole day and in the thirty minutes following the skydive, i wasn’t actually sure I enjoyed it - just because I was feeling so bad. Going through the day, Julian drove us to a winery (the first place we stopped at was a kiwi farm and the people wondered why he asked for a tasting!). Matt, Julian and Shaun all paid for a $10 tasting and we sat outside in front of the vineyard and ate some cheese and salami. The cheese cheered me up a little. The food did me good and I started to feel a little better. Our minds were still processing what had just happened. After the tasting, we had lunch in a nice little place not far from the airfield and Julian drove us back to our hostel. He and Matt were making their way back south on the same day.
Once we got to our hostel, we had a nap - the adrenaline rush had exhausted us! After a dinner at Domino’s and some shopping for snacks and lunch, we went back to bed. On the next day, we had a long bus journey awaiting.
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