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Adrenaline-Fuelled Day in Taupo – Day 22
Monday 18th April 2005
Today was possibly one of the most adrenaline-fuelled days of my entire life, and it’s fair to say I was literally buzzing by the end of it. I am in Taupo near the lake, and this entire place is filled with things to do. I love it! Read on to learn of the excitement awaiting me today.
After I had eaten my breakfast – which was a little sour as the fridges here are broken and all the food and milk is warm – I set about phoning the company in charge of White-water Rafting to confirm today’s booking. It’s just as well I did, as today’s trip was cancelled due to lack of people. I would have been the only participant, which I suppose would have been a little boring. I decided, in that case, to phone up on the off chance I might be able to do a tandem sky dive. And to my luck, I could. Woohoo!
The nerves began to kick in as I put the phone down and realised I had to get ready, and as I arrived at the main building my heart was doing somersaults. I was guided into the kitting-up area to attach myself to a rather uncomfortable harness. There was a cute girl working in this department, a fellow traveller nonetheless. She had been working here for two weeks, and was working around New Zealand as she went. Sounded like a really good idea. I wondered if I would work anywhere on this trip. I had my working Visa with me, so I wanted to give something a go at some point.
My harness was upon me, then it was given a good tug by the pretty girl. She was making sure it was tight enough. After yanking me here and there, ahem!, I was feeling very confident that it was tight enough. The immense pressure around my private parts was enough to convince me of this. Indeed, I wondered if it was a little too tight, but the similar groans from a couple of other guys also going up in the plane suggested it was meant to be this way. After adjusting myself as best I could, we began the introduction process to our fully-trained jumping buddies, then all got onto the plane ready for our ascent into the glorious blue sky.
I was on first, but was jumping last, and felt a little nervous at this point as we climbed to around 13,000 feet. The banter in the plane was helping settle me as we all laughed at our impending doom. The professionals playing their part well. I guess it’s always like this for them, but they made the entire experience memorable.
The time had come to jump, and the other guys disappeared out the doorway and into the open air. I was next, and looking out of the plane was simply mesmerising. The views around Taupo on such a clear day were indescribable. You could see for many miles in all directions, it was stunningly beautiful. Then came the jump…
45 seconds free fall was enough to take my breath away, yet I couldn’t stop myself from laughing. I could see many mountains around this area, and the lake itself looked enormous. The feeling was not as I had expected though, as it didn’t give you that sensation in your tummy. The free fall felt almost as if we weren’t falling at all, but instead, hovering in one position as the earth came towards us. My ears popped several times reassuring me that it was us doing all the moving.
The jolt took me by surprise as the parachute opened, and my valuables suddenly felt vulnerable as the harness rode up into my groin. I escaped unhurt though, largely due to my re-adjustment before we took off. I was glad of this. The rest of the descent was a dream. I took myself away to another place momentarily as the cool breeze gently stroked my face. There was a re-assuring thumbs up from my instructor to check I hadn’t passed out, then it was softly and slowly down to the ground, turning left and right to admire more of this fantastic scenery in all directions.
The land approached with more haste as we came in to land, and I was instructed to run in the air and carry on as we landed. It was a textbook landing at that. We came to a halt and the experience had ended, but it was incredible, and so different to how I had expected it to be. The temporary deafness from the ears popping lasted a lot longer than I had been told, and all sound was very muffled as we de-harnessed ourselves.
Back in the main building, I had a good chat with the girl, then exchanged smiles as I left. More people had come in by now, and the poor girl was suddenly swamped by masses of people, so I made for the exit. I would love to do this again at some point.
I came back to the hostel for some lunch, then set out in the direction of the river around Taupo. I had seen signs for a bungee jump nearby, and opted for a jump while I was still on a high. I arrived and looked out at the river and off the platform where I would be jumping. I had to wait a while for everything to be ready, and I used this time to sit and watch as others turned up with the intention of jumping, only to turn away and decide against it. One such couple had arrived as I was about to take my turn. We chatted briefly and I learned the guy was thinking about taking a jump. It was clear to see the anguish on his face as he struggled to gain the confidence to do it. He decided to watch me first before making his decision.
I was taken to the platform where the harness was fitted, and the two girls strapping me up found it amusing that I had already taken a sky dive this morning. I was asked if I wanted to be dunked into the river at the bottom, and I replied, “Just a little”. I was told that I may not reach the water and should hold my arms out to touch the water if I wasn’t near enough. So this is what I would do.
With my legs strapped up, and the tension adjusted in the bungee, it was time for me to walk to the edge. From here I was told to jump when I was ready. I took a look around me at the sights, looked back at the girls and to the guy watching me, then leapt off.
The feeling was incredible, far better than the sky dive, and I had no breath to scream out. The water was approaching fast and I held my arms out as instructed. Suddenly I plunged straight into the water, and was under up to my waist, then was pulled out of the water and up into the air. The language that came out of my mouth was colourful, and completely involuntary, but the experience was just fantastic. I absolutely loved it.
Once in the boat at the bottom, I had the chance to look up at where I had jumped from, and it seemed a long way. I really wanted to do it again, but opted to try it in Queenstown when I get there. That one is much bigger.
I walked back up the hill to the building, and was surprised to see my jump being played on a screen outside the main entrance. The other guy was watching it, and I had to apologise for my language as it appears there was a microphone attached to the harness. I felt a little guilty as he decided not to go ahead with his jump, possibly because of the words I used on mine. It was great for me to watch it back, and I was so tempted to buy this DVD, but for the price. Had it not been so expensive I would have bought it, but again, I wanted to wait until I jumped in Queenstown to get a DVD. I bought the photos instead though.
After all the fun and games, I came back to the hostel where I re-lived the day’s experiences with the other guests. Lots of people took a keen interest, and I felt on top of the world at this point. These are two things I have wanted to do for many years now, and I ended up doing them both on the same day, I was absolutely buzzing, much to the amusement of the others around the dinner table.
This is undoubtedly my most favourite day of the trip so far, possibly the most favourite of my life so far. Absolutely brilliant!!
Written by Daniel Stevens,
Founder of Roundtheworldtrip.org.
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