In the town of Motueka there happens to be an airfield. One of the options at the airfield is to take a flight in a stunt plane in which you actually get the chance to take over the controls for a brief period. A friend took this option and I was told it was a very exhilarating experience which she proved when she showed us the video! However I cannot talk much of this as I chose the other option. I decided to take a flight up to 16, 500 feet and jump out of a perfectly good plane. Surprisingly in the run up getting on the plane I was not particularly nervous. Maybe this was due to the fact that I had been paragliding a week or two earlier, or maybe it was due to the confidence I had gained throughout the trip. I was very aware of the fact that this would be very different.
Still, even once we were on the plane gaining altitude I felt quite at ease, in fact it was the gentleman strapped to the back of me that was taking deep breaths.. Just slightly worrying! We carried on climbing and I have got to say the views were astonishing! It didn’t take long for us to reach the right altitude and we were getting prepared to make the jump. Before I knew it we were edging over to the door and I was being hung out of the plane. All I had to do was hang there, suspended 3 miles above the ground with my head and legs tucked under. Then came the words I had been waiting to hear.. 5..4..3..2..1!
As soon as we were out of the plane we began falling and spinning at a crazy speed. It was a really bizarre feeling but also just amazing. It doesn’t take long until the initial small chute is deployed which stabilizes you and stops you spinning, but it does slow you down at all. By this point we were falling through the air at around 120 mph! The speed seems to whip the air away from you and it becomes slightly harder to breathe, or at least it felt that way. At the same time I couldn’t quite close my mouth due to the forces of nature pinning my cheeks to the back of my face which meant within seconds I had a mouth as dry as the Sahara. However, these small discomforts seems to fall away incredible fast, just as quickly as the ground came ever closer.
So with my last moments of free-falling I looked around and fully took in the fact that I was just falling though the air. Simply put it was incomparable to anything I had ever experienced. It was exhilarating, and even now I cannot find the words to justify it. As the parachute was deployed we were brought to a complete and somewhat abrupt stop. At this point I discovered just how important it was to get the placement of your harness spot on, or else you will be in a fair bit of discomfort in the male department! Yet even this could not draw away the magnitude of what I had just done. Within 2 seconds I had gone from flying through the atmosphere to just floating down to earth like a bubble. It was calm, serene and one of the best experiences of my life!
Now although the scenery and experiences we had here were amazing. There was one last magical moment we were yet to experience here. A visit to the Fat Tui. This place was basically our equivalent of a burger van back in England except it was actually a really cool place with a Kiwi twist. Instead of some greasy fast food, they presented you with massive gourmet burgers ranging from the ‘Cow Pat’ (a standard beef burger) to ‘The Muss’ (a burger made of mussels’. I went for the standard beef burger which was served in a large bun with a variety of seeds on the top and lots of salad inside. They were of course delicious and well… very, very messy.
EDIT: If you want to get an idea of what it was like to jump from a plane at 16, 500ft then take a look at this video of Dave Bouskill (a fellow traveller jumping on the same day) performing the same jump.. http://theplanetd.com/skydive-abel-tasman-new-zealand/