ADVENTURES IN QUEENSTOWN, NEW ZEALAND PART #4

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So today I jumped out of a plane at 15,000 feet. No biggy. With day one, day two and day three under my belt, I'd say day four was also pretty damn special here in New Zealand with STA Travel. DAY FOUR

NZ One Skydive When I first found out I was going to New Zealand with STA Travel, I was told I could go skydiving, if I wanted to. I changed my mind about a million times, and after speaking with my parents, I decided not to. I do like terre firma.

However, when I arrived in Queenstown something changed. After my 15 kilometre cycle, watching people bungy jump from Kawarau Bridge, speeding around the luge at the Queenstown Summit and going for a wild spin on the Shotover Jet, I discovered something. The buzz of Queenstown has come alive within me. I have fallen completely and utterly in love with Queenstown and the South Island. I wanted more adventure, more thrills and more action packed activities to quench my love of New Zealand.

I had been given the opportunity to do something extreme and adventurous, and I do love adventure, so before I knew it – I was booked to go skydiving.

Arriving at the NZ One store on Shotover Street in the gorgeous town centre of Queenstown, I was surrounded by about 30 other nervous looking people. Within 30 minutes I had signed my necessary forms, been briefed and was driving in the car to the drop zone.

The operation is professional, slick and at every corner puts safety at first, softening my nerves ever so slightly. After waiting 45 minutes or so, and three waves of novice skydivers take the plunge before me, I was ushered into an outdoor hanger where skydivers were re-packing their parachutes. I changed into my skydiving suit, met my tandem diver Adam, was fitted with a harness, gloves, goggles and cap. After a short but thorough briefing with Adam we were walking towards the plane. It all happened so quickly! With over 23 years experience of operating tandem skydives, I knew I was in good hands.

Climbing into the plane first, Adam strapped his harness onto me loosely then we stepped up into the plane without about ten other tandem divers. Taking off my nerves were still slowly rumbling in the pit of my stomach. At 5,000 feet we had well and truly climbed over the Remarkables and surrounding mountains. Then at 12,000 every other tandem couple jumped out of the plan, leaving me and Adam and my other half with his diver Greg. I was surprised so many people had chosen to jump at 12,000 feet. If you are going to sky dive once in your life, why not go the whole way and go the highest you can? Well, that was my theory.

Finally we had reached 15,000. Adam and myself shuffled down towards the exit and he tightened our harnesses together securely, safely and very tight. I was surpisingly feeling really, really good! Sitting on the edge, I curved my legs underneath the plane, tilted my head back on Adam’s shoulder then before I knew it we back flipped a couple of times into the sky and were freefalling at 200 kilometres per hour. The rush was phenomenal! Freefalling for about 60 seconds and 10,000 feet, I stretched my arms out wide, then I pretended to box like Sylvester Stallone in Rocky, and then thrust them forward like Superman. I was having a blast and laughing the whole time.

At around 5,600 feet Adam pulled the parachute open and we were flung up into the air. Taking my goggles off we glided down towards the drop zone and chatted about the experience the whole way down. Adam spun the parachute around three or four times, which was excellent to say the least. However a little stomach curdling so if you don’t have the strongest of stomachs, I wouldn’t recommend it. Not long after we were falling closer to the ground and as I raised my feet we found ourselves sitting on the grass at the drop zone. I could not believe it!! I had skydived at 15,000 feet!! High fiving and hugging each other, I could not stop smiling and laughing. Oh Queenstown, how I love you!

NZOne Skydiving 35 Shotover St Queenstown New Zealand 9300 Ph: +64 800 376 796 www.nzoneskydive.co.nz

Lake Pukaki After conquering our fears by skydiving, we jumped in the car and drove to Christchurch. Along the way we stopped off at Lake Pukaki. The largest of three alpine lakes running along the northern edge of the Mackenzie Basin on New Zealand’s South Island, Lake Pukaki was created when the terminal moraines of receding glaciers blocked their respective valleys. The glacial melting feeds the lake with a distinctive azure blue colour.

Stopping by a pine forrest which clings to the edge of the lake, we explored the fresh water lake, stopping to taste the water and explore the deep pine forrest collecting pine cones. Across the lake and into the distance, we could see the majestic snow capped Mt Cook. There is a visitors centre in in Twizel, however if you don’t have enough to drop by the centre, it is super easy exploring the Lake your own way, on foot or by car or camper van.

Lake Pukaki South Island New Zealand www.mtcooknz.com