The purpose of my trip to New Zealand last month was to try for myself the one-week driver evaluation that all potential PETRONAS Syntium Team drivers have to take on, as part of their filter and selection process, with the team’s appointed driver trainer Richard Lester.
As if there wasn’t enough adrenalin rush from that, I went on somewhat of an unplanned adventurous streak in Auckland!
First, I went to the Sky Tower and completed the 192-metre vertical SkyJump and the 360-degree 192-metre high SkyWalk. [Read about that adventure here]
Then, on another occasion, I drove myself out from Pukekohe to Parakai (about 100 kilometres and 1.5 hours of driving) in a manual bone stock 1991 Toyota MRII just to jump out of a plane!
Yes, it was my first skydiving experience…
Prior to the New Zealand trip, I didn’t do much planning and just thought I would drive to the city centre if and when I have some free time to walk the town and take some photos. Never did I expect to turn the whole trip into a full-on exhilarating adventure!
Skydiving is the action of exiting an aircraft and returning to the ground with a parachute used during the final part of the descent. It may or may not involve a certain amount of free fall, a time during which the parachute has not been deployed and the body gradually accelerates to terminal velocity (kinda like vertical F1 eh?).
I didn’t really know what to expect, but I was determined to try the highest that Skydive Auckland had to offer – 16,500 feet!
Located at West Auckland Airport just 40 minutes north of Auckland city centre, Skydive Auckland has three types of tandem skydives:
1) A Quick Hit (NZD 295)
Tandem Skydive at 9000 feet – 20 seconds of free fall
2) A Tasty Little Teaser (NZD 325)
Tandem Skydive at 13,000 feet – 45 seconds of free fall
3) The Ultimate Rush (NZD 395)
(the highest skydive jump in the North Island, New Zealand)
Tandem Skydive at 16,500 feet - 70 insane seconds of free fall
It has to be a tandem skydive, which means there is an instructor tied to you for the entire course of the jump; unless you have the licence to do solo skydives. I was really lucky to get Lottie (her full name’s Charlotte Blair), one of only three female tandem masters in New Zealand! She was really cool and I felt safe with her:)
After a briefing on the ground, your tandem master will suit you up in the necessary gear and then you wait for your turn to go into the little plane.
I was seated right at the back because the ones going out at 13,000 feet had to jump first. As we slowly climbed up, I was fascinated by the views and tried to distract myself from the tiniest of tiny nerves that were building up within me.
Watching the guys drop out of the plane at 13,000 feet sent a shiver of excitement down my spine and I couldn’t wait for my turn!
I was given an oxygen mask as we ascended to 16,500 feet…
Once we got to the desired height, the plane slowed and we got ready to jump off! I was the last to jump off and I was cheering on the other guys!
Everything happened so fast that I didn’t even have time to feel scared. The tandem master is really professional and experienced, so I felt pretty safe and just focused on enjoying the whole process!
We slid down the bench, positioned ourselves at the edge and OFF WE GO!
The feeling of free fall is unbelievably astounding.
Wind is rushing in your ears, you can’t feel your face as it distorts into funny expressions along with your mouth and everything is truly a RUSH!
Here are some of the not-so-glamourous moments captured as proof of face distortion and unintentional drooling (haha!):
I was screaming away and going “OMG” but no one can hear you, not the tandem master, not even yourself.
Once the parachute goes up, everything goes silent and the whole world is at your feet.
Ok, I exaggerate.
But seriously, the views were amazingly beautiful – I couldn’t have picked a better day for skydiving with the clear skies.
Regardless of which height you jump from, the parachute is pulled at 5,000 feet and then you slowly float back down to the ground. The tandem master is in control at all times, steering the parachute back to the drop zone.
From the world rushing past you to a complete still, the feeling was pretty surreal and I was having a conversation with Lottie in the air!
It takes about five to six minutes from when the parachute opens at 5,000 feet to when you land in the drop zone, but it felt a lot longer than that.
I was actually getting sad that we were landing and the adventure was coming to an end.
Skydiving actually isn’t as scary as you think it might be. There is a tandem master attached to you at all times and they are in control, so you should just relax and enjoy the adventure! Compared to the 192-metre vertical Sky Jump at the Sky Tower, that one required you to make the jump yourself on the count of 3 by the instructor. I watched videos of other people on the Sky Jump where they refused to let go and the instructor, who wouldn’t push you over of course, had to count to 3 a couple of times before they managed to find the courage to jump.
Throughout my Skydive Auckland experience, Lottie had a Go Pro camera and a handycam strapped to her wrist to record everything in pictures and video! After you land, she hands over the cameras to the editing team and in just about 15 minutes, they have your photos as well as your video cut and ready in DVD for your purchase. The price for these precious moments comes in three options - NZD 95 for the photos only, NZD 120 for the video only and a combo package of NZD 170 for both the photos and the video. I had to get them ALL!
Watch my Skydive Auckland experience at 16,500 feet here:
Thank you Skydive Auckland for making my visit to Auckland such a memorable one! I don’t know when I will go skydiving again, but I know I want to
For more photos of my first skydiving experience with Skydive Auckland, view here.
West Auckland Airport
T: 0800 92 16 500