This is, without a doubt, the best present I’ve ever given myself.
As I approached my 30th birthday, I knew I wanted to do something special…something a little crazy.
I think this qualifies…
A week or two after my birthday, I was headed to New Zealand for the first time, for two weeks of amazing natural beauty, craft beer, local wine, hiking, and an epic roadtrip.
So I decided to cross something off my bucket list…and jump out of a plane.
Now, that may sound crazy. I get it. I’m not an adrenaline junkie in the strictest sense, and I don’t really have any desire to bungee jump or anything. But the idea of basically flying through the air like a bird?? Yep, that’s always intrigued me.
These were some of the recommendations for messages to write on your hands. I particularly loved the “I will die but not today!” and the intensely Kiwi “Sweet as”. Aww, Kiwis, I miss you.
We based ourselves in Nelson, so see what else there is to do in the Nelson area!
There are thousands of places that you can skydive, but to skydive in New Zealand means seeing some of the most amazing natural beauty in the world from a couple miles up. How do you resist that?!
Check out my 35th birthday adventure: Paragliding in Olüdeniz, Turkey
We were picked up at our rental house and driven to Motueka, where we suited up and I met my tandem dive partner, Dan. Once everything was explained and we signed all the paperwork, we boarded a tiny propeller plane and took off.
The view from the plane was absolutely gorgeous, you could see Abel Tasman National Park, all the coastline and mountains, and even a glimpse of the North Island!
Once we got over 13,000 feet, we needed to wear little oxygen masks since the air was thin and it’s not a pressurized plane. Kind of weird, kind of cool.
And then we hit 16,500 and were ready to jump…
I kept expecting to be super nervous or excited, or get a rush of adrenaline, but weirdly I never did. My main reaction (which the cameraman completely captured on my face here) was “IT’S SO COLD!”
We free-fell for about a minute before Dan pulled the cord. The wind was insane, and so cold—I wished I’d taken them up on the gloves, honestly. I also underestimated the wind resistance…to me, it didn’t feel like a free fall, like that stomach drop feeling you get on a roller coaster (which I really love).
I can’t tell you it’s super comfortable (you’re keeping your legs in a weird position, the wind is pulling at your cheeks like a dog with its head out the window), but it is SUPER gorgeous. We watched the deep blues of the ocean, the craggy mountains, and the little patches of farmland below.
Ha, you can see me trying to keep my hands warm here… 🙂
And the wind really flopping my cheeks around here…
Once our parachute was pulled, Dan did some spirals as we came in for landing. I totally LOVE that kind of thing.
Finally, we landed in a butt skid (more safe and comfortable than it sounds). While I didn’t get the insane adrenaline rush I expected, that face right there is still pure happiness and exhilaration.
Should you skydive in New Zealand?
If you’ve been thinking about skydiving, New Zealand is one of the top places in the world to do it—you won’t regret it! Unfortunately it might ruin you for skydiving anywhere else…
You should definitely research any company you’re thinking about going with. Look into their certifications, records, reviews, everything. Skydive Abel Tasman does a ton of skydive training and certification there as well, which made me feel even better about it.
What you need to know:
- I went with Skydive Abel Tasman in Motueka, toward the north end of the South Island. There are tons of places to skydive in New Zealand, though. Near Queenstown is very popular, there should be some near Christchurch, and on the North Island as well. Just look around on TripAdvisor.
- They offer a 9,000, 13,000 and a 16,500 dive, and you can add a (very expensive, but in my opinion still worth it for your first time) photography and video package as well. Basically, a cameraman will jump with you—dedicated specifically to you, not other people—and get lots of pics and video. Then when you land they’ll cut it together and do a viewing before you leave, and provide you with a disc or USB drive.
- My total package ended up being around $600 NZD, or around $510 USD at the time. I wasn’t compensated for this in any way, and as always, all opinions are my own.
Have you ever thought about skydiving? Where is on your bucket list to jump out of a plane?
Read about our other New Zealand adventures!
- Indulging Our Inner Nerds at Hobbiton
- Hiking the Hooker Valley Track on New Zealand’s South Island
- Sunrises, Stars, & Stunning Blue Water: New Zealand’s Lake Tekapo
- Floating on a Glacier Lake: Lake Tasman Boat Tour