The weeks coming up to our birthdays, we debated what to do...as it had been a while since we last had a break (almost 2 weeks!), and we felt like we should get on the road again and make the most of this beautiful country. The destination this time: Taupo. On Sunday morning we packed and headed off on the 5-hour trek up north, to New Zealand’s biggest lake. Not far in to the journey we stopped off at a beach on the Kapiti coast for a little walk. It was a lovely little place, perfect for somewhere to just chill out.
Anyway, with no time to waste we soon set off on the road again, only stopping at an American diner called '66 on 1' for some grub. The drive was long and treacherous along the Desert Road, a 50km stretch of bare land, where snow is abundant and I even think there may be the odd wolf!?! We made it to Taupo in the early evening, and were very impressed with our hostel, Rainbow Lodge, as you could barely tell it apart from a hotel. We even had an en-suite and flat screen TV - luxury!
Monday came and we went for a walk around 'Craters of the Moon', a geothermal area where there are steam vents, fumaroles and bubbling mud pools. It was a very individual place with some amazing sites that just can't be appreciated without a visit. The rest of the day was all about chilling, so we went to a beach by the lake to watch the sunset. We saw three beautiful black swans, which made for some good photos.
On Wednesday morning we were due to sky dive, so after an early start, we checked out of the hostel and rang the skydive centre to check if it was going ahead (thinking that it would not because the weather was not amazing). To our delight it was, so we headed off to the airport feeling optimistic. We were helped into the jumpsuits, and interviewed for our DVD, then shown to the plane. It was bright pink and rather cramped inside, even with just 6 of us in! After about 15 minutes of climbing, we got to 15,000 ft. Dan was jumping first, so shuffled to the edge of the plane, and was sitting on the edge of the door when the instructors decided that it was too cloudy to jump, and we were taken back to ground. Very annoying as we had got ourselves all psyched up for the jump, just for a huge anti-climax! We were asked to wait an hour to see if it cleared up, but to no avail, so again it was rescheduled to 1 o'clock. We rang up at 1 to enquire if it was going ahead, but no luck. By this point we were thinking that it was too late (as we had to drive back to Wellington that day for work in the morning) and we should probably head home, but instead we decided to give it one last go, and try for the 3 o'clock jump. Good decision as at about 1:30 the clouds went away, and it turned out be lovely day with a beautiful blue sky.
We finally got to jump, which was great as we’d lost some of the nervousness from all the waiting around - now it was just pure excitement. There were two others in our plane, who were jumping from 12, 000ft, so we watched them go first. Its a strange feeling watching them sit on the edge, then just disappear out the door. Not really as scary as it should be though! It was -15 degrees in the plane, so when it came to jumping we were quite glad to get out! Dan jumped first, followed shortly by Julia. It was an amazing experience, over 60 seconds of freefalling at around 200km/hr, then around 5 minutes of gliding around the skies under the canopy. The landing was so smooth and easy, not what we were expecting at all. Overall we would have to say it was amazing, and very surreal as there is no other feeling or experience quite like it!!
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