When I announced on Facebook I was going skydiving, a friend asked: “Why would you want to jump out of a perfectly good plane?”
At 15,000 feet (4500 metres) in the air, I was asking the same question.
But I didn’t have much time to think.
Strapped tightly to my calm, reassuring NZONE tandem instructor Sasa Jojic, he told me to relax as he moved me closer to the open door.
I’d enjoyed feeling safe and admiring views during the 15-minute flight above Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables – but as soon as that door opens, it’s business time.
No time to think about pulling out while a handful of jumpers quickly dive out of the plane. Then it’s your turn.
It’s terrifying working your way to the edge, but Jojic does all the hard work. It’s also nice knowing he’s survived 22,000 skydives.
Terror turns to exhilaration once you realise you’re free-falling for 60 seconds – although it seems about 20.
I found it difficult to breathe and smile at the same time for NZONE cameraman Jon Davies and it’s weird feeling your face contort – but that’s what you get when you’re plummeting at terminal velocity, 200km per hour.
When the chute’s pulled, it’s time to relax and enjoy the thrill. You’re still 1800m above the lake – about level with the top of the Remarkables – and there’s plenty of sightseeing to do in the five minutes it takes to get down. And the views from outside the plane are better than from within.
I’m happy to say that I embraced the fear – and loved it.
All you need to know
What NZONE’s 15,000ft skydive
Where Booking office 35 Shotover Street; Dropzone at the base of The Remarkables, 16km from Queenstown
Cost 15,000ft – $429; 12,000ft – $329; 9000ft – $269
Thrill-o-meter 10 out of 10