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The Abel Tasman National Park: home to magnificent beaches, native bush and enchanting coves, its beauty attracting thousands to the region year after year. But what do you do when you want to experience a more adventurous side of the park?
Abel Tasman Canyons and Skydive Abel Tasman put their genius heads together and mustered up a package like no other. Designed purely with the brave and daring in mind, ‘Guts and Glory’ shows its customers the wild heart of the park with an exhilarating day of canyoning, followed by a breath-taking Skydive from 16,500ft. I decided I had to give it a go, and I was going to bring my pal Taylor along for the ride.
Our day started early, but the morning saw our excitement build as we made our way into the park and up towards the beginning of the canyon. We listened out for the sounds of cascading water, telling us that we were getting closer, and before we knew it we had made it to Torrent River. Lunch eaten, wetsuits on. The real fun was about to begin.
We abseiled, easing our way down rock faces before splashing into the crystal-clear pools of water below.
We slid, laughing with one another as we sped down water polished chutes.
We leapt, springing off of rocks as high as 8metres before landing beside the waterfall below.
And we zip-lined, posing through the air as the guides captured our journey on camera.
Taylor grinned. I squealed. This was incredible.
By the time Taniwha slide came around I could feel the adrenaline pulsing around my body, and I knew everyone else in my group could feel it too. We took it in turns to lie down at the top of the slide and screamed as our bodies left the edge of the rock, feeling momentarily weightless in the air, before plummeting down into the depths of below. My head broke through the water and I drew in a breath of air. Only one word came to mind: epic.
With each passing challenge we began to feel invincible, as if we could overcome anything and jump off of everything. The Abel Tasman Canyons guides had brought out the inner Superhero in us both. As we ventured back into Anchorage, back onto the Aqua Taxi, we felt as though we had both accomplished something huge.
High-fives all round and smiles galore, we began to relax as the sea breeze dried off our hair; but as the evening sun set we laughed as we realised that our days adventures were far from over. We jumped off the water taxi and hopped straight into the Skydive Bus for the short drive over to the airfield. Here we go again!
Two smiley faces welcomed us as we pushed through the doors, and before we knew it we had been whisked through to another room to get us ready for the next thrill.
Putting my jumping suit on, I felt only marginally more glamorous than I had in a wetsuit. We were introduced to our tandem master’s, and I made sure that I was extra polite to the man that would soon have my life in his hands.
Our turn was up – time to head out onto the field, and into our plane. I imagined this was how it felt to be an astronaut, walking over to their spaceship ready to leave earth’s atmosphere. 16,500ft is basically the same as going to the moon, right? We all tucked ourselves into the tiny aircraft, photographers included, and laughed as we became part of a human daisy chain; my knees entangled with someone else’s arms and maybe even a few legs. And then we waited and watched as the plane rose. Higher, and higher. Our stomachs churned in time with the sound of the plane’s engine.
I shut my eyes and squeezed Taylor’s shoulder as the plane began to move. We couldn’t believe it. We were about to jump out of a plane!
The views were incredible. Paradise was unfolding beneath us, giving way to the Abel Tasman National Park, sunny Motueka, mesmerising bays and coves. We watched the waves lap against the yachts that were huddled around Adele Island. The North Island’s Mount Taranaki had even popped its head out of the clouds to watch us finish off what had been an incredible day.
Here we go.
My body perched on the edge of the plane, hands gripped around my harness. I took one deep breath in and the next thing I knew I was tumbling, the ground and sky switching places. I tried to scream but nothing came out. I tried to laugh but my mouth fell apart and at some point I think my lips ended up touching my eyelids. But I could see it all: the entire National Park; Motueka, Kaiteriteri, Marahau; golden sands and turquoise seas. The freefall lasted over 70 seconds, more than enough time to spot both the North and South Island. It was as if the whole world had opened up in front of me and was showing me the best bits.
The parachute released and I looked on in awe; as we descended back down to the airfield I tried to spot Taylor, who was waving and grinning at me from down below. I could hardly contain myself – we’d both done it!
With the sun setting behind Kaiteriteri beach and a well-deserved drink in our hands, we were finally able to reflect on our day’s adventures. Canyoning AND Skydiving in one day. Incredible! And what’s more we’d been able to do it in one of the most beautiful places in the world: The Abel Tasman National Park.
Guts & Glory, you rocked it.
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