The Adventure of Skydiving in Queenstown
The Adventure of Skydiving in Queenstown: What’s interesting is that it’s only been four months (from publication) since my skydiving adventure in Queenstown, but it’s been four or four decades. (NOTE: if you are reading at some point in the future, I am writing this when the world was involved in the coronavirus crisis.)
I hope that we will get through this faster than expected and that we can start traveling again. First, New Zealand eliminated the virus (which was good for its people); this necessitated the indefinite closing of its border to tourists like you.
More on that in a second, however. I’m going to start this post by assuming that Aunt Rona has long been put to rest and that millions of people around the world will want to jump planes over the South Island of New Zealand to celebrate.
Why I waited so long to parachute
As with visiting New Zealand in general, I wanted to wait for skydiving (not just skydiving in Queenstown) until the time is right. Part of my rationale for both was practical: I couldn’t really afford a long trip New Zealand in my younger years; Even if I saw the price of skydiving at 34 as a nominal expense, it could very well have put me in bankruptcy if I had taken the plunge at 34.
My reasons for this were parallel, but they were also related. For reasons I can’t remember, I knew I wanted to New Zealand, if I ever did. I always had the feeling that skydiving was something I would only do once in my life; I didn’t mean to do it in a boring or forgettable place. The other hand—And I’m going to go into that in more detail minute—I did it later learn that Queenstown is the only start to skydiving New Zealand.
Things to Know About Skydiving in Queenstown
All businesses are basically the same
There are three skydiving companies in Queenstown (or at least there were before the coronavirus), but they all offer essentially the same experience, at the same price. Two of them are actually located right next to each other on Shotover Street; to me, the only difference between the two offices is that one has a Chinese speaking staff member. In other words, I wouldn’t waste your time shopping.
(But the drop zones are not)
Whichever Queenstown skydiving store you visit, there are several places to jump. Popular options include Wanaka and more from Queenstown itself, as well as a place called Glenorchy, which I had never heard of before entering the store. The woman behind the counter was adamant that it was her favorite, however, so I ended up reserving a drop on Glenorchy at her recommendation.
The details of your jump will likely change
The next morning, however, a woman (another woman) called just after dawn, to tell me that the weather on Glenorchy (i.e., upper winds) was not suitable for jumping – I could cancel or change to Wanaka. I briefly considered canceling, but ended up deciding when to go ahead and jump over Wanaka. This is one of the reasons why you shouldn’t be too emotionally attached to the drop zone you choose!
I’m not sure if the photos / videos are worth it
In addition to the drop zone for my parachute jump in Queenstown, the staff also “upgraded” me (from 9,000 ′ to 15,000 ′) for free, although I suspect that they end up doing it for everyone, because I doubt that a given plane really goes up to three distinct altitudes. As a travel writer, they also added a free photo / video package.
You might feel like you are suffocating
I did not feel very nervous about skydiving at any time before the dive. The plane ride was a bit difficult; but I was between the legs of a very attractive man, which alleviated most of my worries. Despite this (maybe because of that?), The sensation of jumping out of the plane took me by surprise. Do you know what feeling you get when water runs down your nose? That’s how I felt, except that it was cold air and it lasted all free fall. For a moment, I thought I was going to suffocate!
Is skydiving in Queenstown up to the hype?
Yes and no, frankly. Yes, in the sense that the landscape is exceptional and the experience was literally like anything I could have imagined. No, mainly because I felt like I was choking on the way down and because I wish I had done more research before I jumped. Make no mistake: seeing the Southern Alps on the horizon and Lake Wanaka beneath me was absolutely amazing.
But while skydiving in Queenstown deserves its reputation as one of the most beautiful places in the world for its, I learned later that much better options exist. A man I met at Franz Josef reminded me, for example, that parachuting adds the ocean to the mountain / lake landscape offered at Wanaka or Glenorchy. My tandem partner himself, while our plane was going up, told me that his favorite place was the Bay of Islands, a destination on the North Island which I didn’t even know existed until then.
Coronavirus and skydiving
I’m sorry to go back to the coronavirus, but if you are reading this in early 2020 (or anytime in 2020, based on the current policy of the Ardern administration), this is essential information. Unless the vaccine trials are going really, really well, it looks like New Zealand will close its borders to everyone except the Australians for the next few months or maybe years. A policy that fails in the medium and long term if you ask me, but what do I know? After all, I am someone who jumped off a plane, with very few questions asked.
I’m talking about it, of course, because if the corona crisis is still going on and you’re not already in New Zealand (or, perhaps, Australia), then you won’t be able to parachute here . I hope, of course, that the virus has died down by the time you read this – or, in the absence of that, that the leaders of New Zealand (and, I suppose, Australia) have realized that it was probably unwise to compartmentalize the small island countries of the world on which their economies depended for months or even years.