Six-year-old shows no fear in skydiving


A Queenstown tourism operator hopes one young Indian girl’s big leap is part of a growing trend for visitor numbers. 

A six-year-old visitor from Bangalore, Mahek Basali, recently became the youngest Indian to skydive with Queens­town’s NZONE in its 22-year history. 

It’s understood the youngest jumper in the history of the company is five or six. 

Mahek, holidaying in New Zealand with her family, did her tandem jump from 15,000 feet with 60 seconds of freefall. 

Speaking afterwards, the unruffled young daredevil says: “It was great fun to skydive in NZ and I wasn’t scared one bit.” 

NZONE business development manager Derek Melnick says Mahek is just part of a trend of thrillseekers coming to Queenstown and NZ from India – and not just its main centres. 

“With young Mahek being from the Bangalore region, this demonstrates that demand for adventure tourism from the Indian market goes well beyond the main centres of Mumbai, Delhi and Gujarat. 

“It further suggests NZONE Skydive’s decision to visit these regions to develop key trade relationships will continue to drive growth from this market. 

“When we eventually see our airline connectivity improved to service the Indian market, Queenstown is going to be a very serious benefactor … 24,000-odd Indian visitors per year to NZ is still a clear indication we have some obstacles to overcome if we’re to see numbers comparable to other growth markets,” Melnick says. 

Melnick says Tourism NZ has recently upped its big two-yearly trade event in India to an annual fixture. 

For the first time, Tourism NZ will also extend the event to second-tier cities beyond Delhi and Mumbai, like Kolkata and Bangalore