Sun is shining “check”
Wind is calm “check”
Ready to jump out of plane “check”
Today we woke up to a perfect day. The sun was bright in the sky and the clouds were minimal. We had our quick breakfast and then proceeded down the road to the Skydive Franz. There was Tegan and I plus a guy from Wales jumping today and the weather at the moment was looking excellent.
Yesterday we signed up for a long anticipated skydiving outing. In New Zealand, Tegan my 7 year old daughter can go tandem skydiving! Today we were getting weighed up and then tossed into a van for a trip to the airfield. There we got suited up and instructed on how to tandem skydive. Tegan was matched up with Bigfoot and I had Leigh. Bigfoot is the senior instructor at Skydive Franz and I was confident and so was Tegan that she was in good hands. I had Leigh and I outweighed her by a bunch, but when it got to the part of getting my out of the plane, she handled it like I was a sack of laundry.
Tegan and I were enjoying the flight up and the scenery was nothing short of spectacular. Views of Mount Cook and the Glaciers on one side and the Tasman Sea on the other. I cannot comment on the other places to jump in New Zealand, but I picked this spot just for those features. Today we were jumping from 12,000 feet and it actually takes about 10-15 minutes for the little plane to climb up that high.
Then it was time to jump, clipping into our tandem partners and double checking the attachments prior to opening the door. Tegan was the first to go and a count of three and she quickly fell out of sight. Then it was our turn and Leigh swung me around like a rag doll, feet dangling over the edge of the plane, nothing below but the ground. A count of three, rocking on each count and out we went. I panicked, my body tightened and I trembled for as much as 5 seconds… then I relaxed a little more… there really was nothing I could do about the situation.
The noise of the freefall was tremendous and it lasted about 50 seconds. It wasn’t until the shute opened that I could see Tegan, She was a great distance below us. The Parachute ride down was the best part for me. It was now quiet and relaxing and you were able to absorb more at a rational rate of descent. Leigh and I were the first to land and we came in for a bum landing. I raised my legs and we slid along the grass gently to a stop.
Tegan and Bigfoot had difficulty landing in their drop zone and ended up landing in a pasture about 100m away. Apparently the wind had shifted and created a huge challenge for the skydivers just to get near the landing site. When Tegan finally made her way to where we had landed, I asked her what she thought of the jump and for the first time this trip, she was silent.
She came around in a few minutes and started to describe how she felt. She did enjoy it and would do it again she says. We got the changed out of our jumpsuits and were shuttled back to town. We had to hang around for a few hours in order to grab the DVD of Tegan’s first skydive. After a 2 hour wait, we made our way North towards Hokitika. Hokitika is greenstone central of New Zealand and there are numerous shops displaying greenstone artwork among other shops.
We walked around town a bit, went to the grocery store and then searched out a place to stay. We settled at the Shining Star Beachfront Accommodation. It fit our needs, I made a gouda stuffed chicken for dinner while Tegan checked out the small game farm there. I socialized with the patrons (Germans and Aussies this time) while cooking. Supper turned out great and after clean up, we strolled to the office to grab a movie for Tegan to watch tonight. We wanted to go to the dell across the highway that has a display of glowworms in the trees, but it began raining hard and we weren’t able to. A night in the camper is all that we got.