The Butterflies Begin
The weather has suddenly gone stormy and heavy clouds precipitate into snow as I am crossing the Crowne Ranges from Wanaka to Queenstown.
I feel a mix of disappointment and relief. It means that my skydive will be cancelled. I have been feeling those butterflies of nervousness in my stomach since last evening even though this is my third skydive with NZONE Skydive.
The simple reason is that you just can't get used to the idea of jumping out of a perfectly fine airplane and yet doing just that is one of the sweetest adrenaline rushes ever to be had.
But, then my skydive is rescheduled for the day after and I drive out to the NZONE Skydive Drop Zone beyond the Remarkables Ski Area and Jack's Point. The butterflies in my stomach are at it again and I am almost hoping that a sudden snowstorm breaks upon Queenstown.
Excitement, Sheer Panic, Insane High
My nervousness disappears the moment I step into the registration area. The excitement about falling to earth at 200kph is everywhere - in the high pitched fervour of those who have just jumped, the sight of skydivers coming into land and then whooping in delight and the visual array on the walls. It is infectious and suddenly I just can't wait to get onto that Cessna Supervan that will take me to 15000 feet and then eject me into the blue yonder.
My jump master is Sasa Jojic with who I had jumped 9 years ago. I kit up in my jumpsuit that is made of nylon with titanium fastenings and Sasa checks belts, buckles and belays and we head off towards the Cessna.
It takes about 15 minutes to climb to 15000 feet and during this time Sasa attaches my our harnesses together. My panic peaks when the door rolls open and the green jump light flashes. We shuffle towards the door. Caue Vaz, my photographer, is hanging outside the door of the plane with an air of nonchalance. He lets go and falls away, a split second later Sasa throws us out of the plane and I feel as if my stomach has been left in the plane. But it is just a split second of sheer terror after which I am absolutely thrilled to be flying in the sky like a bird.
Caue comes into my sight and he is busy photographing and shooting away capturing my sheer joy of falling at 200kph. We spin in the air, do some hand histrionics, pull some faces in the one minute of free fall that I have.
A light tap on my head tells me that Sasa is about to pull the ripcord and as the parachute opens (praise the Lord!) it arrest our fall and we gently start floating to the ground.
Sasa, like all jump masters is skilled in the art of making the chute go where he wants it to and we land in only a slight tangle of limbs.
I am thrilled, buzzed, relieved and happy all at once.
This is probably the most insane, mad, exciting and fun thing you can do in New Zealand.
Trust me, if you have a chance and don't because you felt a little fear, you will not stop kicking yourself afterwards.