After completing skydives, more and more visitors to Queenstown are taking away a fiancee with their souvenir photos.
Nzone’s business development manager, Derek Melnick, estimates in the past year there has been a doubling of people choosing to propose as part of a skydive.
Some pop the question in the plane, some bring specially printed T-shirts asking their partner to marry them, some ask the question once safely on the ground and others design elaborate banners visible from the air.
On some of his jumps, skydive instructor Nick Dowling has carried the engagement ring in a pocket.
Dowling says he had taken “maybe five or six people on proposal jumps” and with the rings holding so much significance and value, he admitted to being “a little bit worried it [the ring] was going to come out”.
It was “pretty cool” to be part of the proposals, he says.
Last Tuesday, he took Australian man Chris Bartram, 25, on a jump as part of Bartram’s proposal to girlfriend of three years Belinda Salem, 23, who jumped with another instructor.
Bartram had more than one triumph after the proposal. For one, she said yes, and his fear of heights was quelled by what he was about to ask.
“Usually, I’m scared of heights. I don’t go on Ferris wheels or rides at amusement parks,” Bartram says.
“Because of the reason I was there … I didn’t really think of the fact I was jumping out of a plane. It kind of removed all the nerves.”
His new fiancee was impressed.
“To jump out of a plane for someone when you don’t like heights – that’s a pretty big deal,” Salem says.
The pair were due to jump on the previous Sunday but were not able to because of bad weather.
Between Sunday and their eventual jump on Tuesday, Melnick and Bartram were in regular contact, which Salem thought was “a little bit strange”.
“I just thought he [Melnick] must have heaps of tourists who miss out on skydiving because of weather [but] now it makes sense.”
In fact, Bartram had been in contact with Melnick since January, after he saw skydiving feature on a travel blog and decided that was how he wanted to propose. The pair are from Canberra and left Queenstown vowing to return to the resort.
Melnick says there is now about one skydive marriage proposal a month.
“It’s quite rewarding for the staff,” he says.
After last Tuesday’s proposal, Dowling says “a lot of the staff were out there clapping and cheering them on”.
The next day, a couple from Singapore also got engaged.
Earlier this year, a same-sex couple from the United Kingdom became engaged after a skydive.
Melnick says the resort had marketed itself well for marriage proposals, honeymoons and anniversaries, which contributed to the rise, but also “people are looking for that edge [when proposing]”.
He says skydiving and asking to marry someone were things most people did once in their life, so it was perfect for couples.
Now Bartram has conquered his fear of heights, he says he would like to do another skydive.