Skydive Taupo: The Best Skydiving in New Zealand
Have I ever mentioned that time I jumped out of a mother freakin’ plane? Despite the risk of sounding like yet another tiresome gap yah kid who never even took a gap year, I am here to tell you all about my experience skydiving with Skydive Taupo.
Trusted by over 10,000 jumpers every year, Skydive Taupo is arguably the best skydiving in New Zealand. And to tell you the truth, my experience with Skydive Taupo was nothing short of fantastic from beginning to end. So whether skydiving has always been on your New Zealand bucket list or you are feeling a little apprehensive about the whole chucking-yourself-out-of-a-plane dealio, here’s my comprehensive review of Skydive Taupo in New Zealand.
Where is Taupo?
Located in the middle of the North Island, Taupo is the North Island’s ‘adventure capital’ and the ultimate hotspot for skydiving in New Zealand. And not only that, but it’s just a bit bloody beautiful too! At ground level, the view from the town is already remarkable, but it just gets better as you find yourself above the clouds.
Great Lake Taupo is the biggest lake in New Zealand, with an area similar to Singapore. The lake is, in fact, a crater of a super-volcanic eruption 26,000 years ago. However, Taupo volcano has erupted as little as 5,000 years ago, which has led to a huge amount of geothermal activity all around the lake, which Taupo is well known for. Many people can say they’ve jumped out of a plane but how many can say they’ve jumped over the crater of a massive volcano, eh?
Surrounding the lake you will also find Tongariro National Park and specifically Mount Ngauruhoe which is more commonly known as Mount Doom from Lord of the Rings. Taupo is a pretty unique place to jump, I’d say.
How much does it cost?
Ah, the worst part. Let’s cut to the chase, shall we? Skydiving is expensive. Tough shit. Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do to change that but you can rest assured that this isn’t a purchase you will probably be making many times in your lifetime. But the price can differ dramatically depending on which package you choose.
First things first, you need to decide how high you want to go: either 12,000ft or 15,000ft. If you have the budget for it, I figure you may as well go all out and jump from 15,000ft. The freefall from 15,000ft genuinely felt like it lasted only 10 seconds (spoiler alert: it was actually 60 seconds), so I can’t even imagine how quickly the experience must go when jumping from only 12,000ft. Plus, if you’re feeling nervous, the extra height really doesn’t make any difference. You’re so far up above the clouds, that your brain doesn’t comprehend how high you are!
At Skydive Taupo a standalone 12,000ft jump costs £144, whilst a 15,000ft jump will set you back £186. However, things get pricier once you start considering photo and video packages. And in our Instagram-obsessed day and age, it’s likely that you’re going to want to get photo evidence of your skydive.
The cheapest option is the Handycam package where your tandem instructor will film you using a GoPro strapped to their wrist. The second option is the Freefall package where a separate cameraman will jump out with you and capture HD footage of your skydive. And the third is both! This means prices can range from just £144 to a staggering £341. I chose the Freefall package at 15,000ft meaning I spent £290 on my skydive.
My Skydive Taupo Experience
Our skydives were booked in for the afternoon so we decided to set off early in the morning from our hostel in Wellington. As I was studying abroad with Americans who, unsurprisingly, didn’t fancy tackling driving on the left side of the road, I fell into the role of designated driver. So after an almost five-hour drive to Taupo, I wasn’t exactly feeling pumped to jump out of a plane.
Luckily I exchanged my less than desirable cheap hire car with nothing other than a pink limo. If you’re staying in Taupo, Skydive Taupo will pick you up for free in their iconic limo, however, there is also a free return shuttle from Rotorua and free on-site parking too. The perfect way to cool your nerves, Skydive Taupo’s limo will make sure you feel right at home and relaxed before the big jump! Their limo is part and parcel of the whole experience and it definitely felt a little out of place on the small streets of Taupo.
Say hey to Sky, Skydive Taupo’s very own rescued cat. Give her a cuddle to ease those nerves before you sign your life away and head into the safety talk. Not only is the cat a right cutie but the team at Skydive Taupo were also blummin’ lovely. Everyone we met in New Zealand was so kind and accommodating and the team at Skydive Taupo were no exception.
Following our safety talk, we were all ready to get geared up and jump when we were told that it was unfortunately too windy to jump. Taupo has its own microclimate and it can change very quickly. Luckily we had booked an Airbnb in Taupo for a couple of nights which meant we could reschedule our skydive for the following morning. I’d advise you do the same so as to not miss out! Better luck next time…
Skydive Taupo Take Two
It was finally time to slip on my gear. Obviously, I went for some sexy pink gloves #fashun. You also have to don a very fetching assemble of a jumpsuit and harness, hat and goggles. Your tandem instructor will come and introduce himself and tighten up your harness, going over a few more safety instructions with you.
It’s time to fly
It’s time to board the plane! The flight is an experience in itself so you should definitely make the most of your time in the tiny aircraft. Skydive Taupo’s custom-made plane takes about 20 minutes to get to jump altitude, giving you plenty of time to take in the stunning scenery and marvel at just how large the lake really is! Painted pink and adorned with Maori designs and detailing, Skydive Taupo’s unique plane keeps the legends, beliefs and culture of the Maori people alive.
Once you reach a certain height, your tandem instructor will put an oxygen mask on you as up at that height you can develop hypoxia. It will also be time to put on your helmet and goggles. Don’t worry if the nerves begin to kick in. Granted, I am a bit of an adrenaline junkie so there were zero nerves on my part. However, there were some people in our group who were more nervous than others and the guys at Skydive Taupo really did their best to put them at ease.
Get ready to say farewell to the beloved pink plane. As the green light comes on, the door opens and you feel that rush of air, your instructor will slide you to the door until your feet are dangling over the edge. I genuinely think this was my favourite part of the skydive. Whilst others were bricking it, I just felt so euphoric and, ironically, at peace. There’s something remarkably humbling about looking down on the earth.
As you leave the aircraft, you may somersault or fall flat. In the safety talk, the team repeatedly tell you to thrust your pelvis forward to make the shape of a banana (please remind me to never use that sentence again). But honestly, I don’t think I remembered to do that. I was a tad more concerned about the fact I was hurtling towards the ground to think about manoeuvring my body into any acceptable skydiving position. You are also told to hold your hands to your chest until your instructor tells you it’s fine to let go.
Here comes the much-anticipated 124 mph adrenaline rush you’ve been waiting for. As the team at Skydive Taupo will tell you, you don’t feel like you’re falling – skydiving is more akin to floating on a huge cushion of air.
Word of warning: It’s really bloody cold up there, especially if you are skydiving in New Zealand’s winter, so wrap up warm. The rush of air can also be quite uncomfortable and, dare I say it, painful, as it rushes through all your crevices (once again, please remind me to never use that sentence again) so I actually spent most of the freefall with my mouth shut.
How the cameraman managed to capture such an effortlessly graceful photo of me above is beyond me. For the rest of the time, I resembled a dying chipmunk. If there’s anything I’ve learnt from skydiving, it’s that no one looks fit jumping out of a plane.
Whilst you’ll want to make the most of checking out the views and enjoying the rush, you’ve also gotta think about the ol’ cameraman jumping with you. If you chose to have your skydive filmed, then it’s time to interact with your cameraman. Shake hands, dab (or don’t, I’d go with don’t), pretend to be Superman. Do whatever the eff you want! The cameraman flies around you, up close, above and below, to capture shots of you at all angles.
Well, thank fuck for the parachute
Your parachute opens at 5,000 feet! Despite a sudden jolt up, it’s a pretty good feeling. You’ll be counting your lucky stars you made it here alive. Your tandem instructor will release the pressure on you a bit as you get yourself into a seated position. It may feel like you’re falling out at first but you’ll find that it’s way more comfortable.
As your instructor steers you gently back to earth, enjoy the most relaxing part of the skydive by taking in the magnificent views. If you are feeling up to it, your instructor may even hand you the controls so you can have a go at steering the parachute.
It’s finally time to land…
We made it, folks! Landing is smooth and easy. Simply lift your legs and you’ll slide in slowly and gently, chuffed to bits that you just did something a little bit crazy. Strip off your skydiving kit and head into Skydive Taupo’s on-site cinema room where you can watch your videos back, laugh at each other’s chipmunk faces, and, uh, …. cough up a few hundred quid. My favourite part, that. Well, at least you get a free tee out of it, eh?
So would you ever consider skydiving? Or have you skydived already? Perhaps you were also lucky enough to skydive at Skydive Taupo, the best skydiving in New Zealand! Let me know all about your experience of – or lack of – jumping out of a plane.
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