I’ve always wondered how it felt to be jumping out of a plane and flying in the sky. Would my face be distorted with that wind? Would I scream till my voice got hoarse? Would I have the courage to even do it? To me, skydiving is so iconic in New Zealand that I just had to check it off my bucket list when I was in Wanaka. Read on to see how my skydiving experience went!

My journey of skydiving in wanaka

The Process of Skydiving in Wanaka

1. Arriving on time for your slot

View of Lake Wanaka from our plane

Since our trip was centred around South Island, we chose our skydiving to be in Wanaka. We arrived early at Skydive Wanaka about an hour before our slot to check-in. As this is a weather-dependent activity, do try to arrive early so you can be sure to take off when the weather is good then! We met with a really cloudy day and had to change our initial 15,000ft skydive to 9,000ft. I was slightly disappointed but at least we did not have to cancel it entirely!

I was really excited while on the way there. However, as soon as we parked and got out of the car, I started to feel my heart pumping faster. My body was processing my nervousness faster than my mind could! Seeing how others from earlier slots were gliding in the sky above and landing in the field in front of us just made me so so so nervous. I was so glad I left my lunch for after the dive HAHA!

2. Preparing for the dive

Upon arriving, we registered for our slot at the counter and picked our video/photography package. You get to pick from a skydive only, handi-cam or a separate camera flyer package. I went for the handi-cam package that had a wrist camera on my tandem master to capture my entire skydive experience. The results turned out not too bad, but do remember to check out the views and angle of each camera to make sure you pick the right package you want!

Thereafter, we were then brought into a little cabin for a video briefing. It was a short session that gave us an idea of what to expect and some instructions on the whole skydiving process. It definitely did not help when the more we watched it, the more nervous we got. After that, we got to the next station to put on our gear. I was trying my best to relax and stay calm as I put on the diving suit and safety harness *chuckles*. Then in no time, we were all geared up and ready to board the plane.

3. Loading up the propeller plane

My journey of skydiving in wanaka
So nervous yet so excited!!!

As I signed up for the handi-cam package, my tandem master made me take a video with it and leave a message in my video to my family and friends before we boarded the plane. That part was awkward for the Asian me and it did not help again that I was so nervous who only wanted the skydive to finish fast.

We then loaded the propeller plane in this order: Tandem master, Flyer #1 (Me), Tandem master #2, Flyer #2 (My Friend), Tandem master #3, Flyer #3 etc. This is so we can unload really quickly in order with our tandem master while in the air. There were no proper seats on the plane but just two thin rows to squat on. It didn’t really matter since you’ll be out of the plane really fast before you even warm the spot anyway.

4. Preparing for the take-off

My journey of skydiving in wanaka
An “I did it” in advance before the dive.

As the propeller plane went up, my tandem master, Jamie, started strapping us up together. All I can remember myself saying is “Keep me safe please please please. Is this buckled tight enough? Will this loosen mid-way? I can only trust you, please keep me safe. HAHAHA!” Honestly, I was just blabbering away and Jamie was so patient with me. He must have met numerous people like that anyway!

Oh, don’t forget to look out the window at this point to enjoy the beautiful views of Wanaka’s world-renowned lakes and mountains, and the Upper Clutha river. If you’re lucky and are flying on a clear day, you may be able to feast your eyes on the beautiful Mount Cook too! Remember all these are exclusive to skydiving in Wanaka, so make sure you get a good look at it!!

Then as each pair ahead of me dropped out from the plane, it was suddenly my turn. Everything happened too quickly!!! I couldn’t speak and only listened to Jamie’s instructions. Jamie asked me to slowly inch forward to the now-open door of the plane. Next was to lay my head back, then he inched forward a bit and suddenly we were out! I felt that strong gush of air in my face as Jamie took the leap. And off we go!!!

5. Gliding through the air

This is the fun part for me. There was a free fall for up to 25 seconds for 9,000ft until the parachute opens. This drop happened so quickly that you wouldn’t even have time to think or even breathe. Then, “Thud!” and you feel the pull of the parachute on your shoulders. I don’t really know what went through my mind then but I remember just being in the moment. Feeling the wind against me, taking in the view from when we dropped out of the plane to the beautiful Lake Wanaka. Skydive Wanaka calls this a sensory overload as your senses try to process the intensity of the experience.

When we slowed down with the now-open parachute, I could finally have a better look at the panoramic views of Lake Wanaka from the top. This is one of the major perks of skydiving in Wanaka. It was extremely beautiful and this is the point when you process that you just jumped out from a plane. Most importantly, do not forget to smile as your handy-cam or camera flyer will be there catching the best angles of your skydive even at this point.

6. Landing on the open field

Preparing for landing was really easy as the guide actually does everything. All you need to do is just stretch your legs out straight in front of you and prepare to stand (or land on your butt) the moment you come to a gradual stop while on the field. I was so glad as my feet touched earth again. Being sturdily on the ground helped me feel slightly better because I was already feeling the motion sickness building up in me. Seems like gliding in the sky with a parachute is not my kind of thing soon 🙁

7. After-effects of the skydive

I was glad that we only had skydiving on our itinerary then as my motion sickness got worse. I was glad my travel buddy then was happy to just spend the rest of the day resting back at our Airbnb as I took a nap to sleep away the discomfort. Wanaka is also such a quiet place that I remembered just enjoying the serenity of the place as we went out late in the evening to buy dinner and some snacks back to eat at our accommodation. That’s how we spent the rest of the day!

Where can I skydive in New Zealand?

My journey of skydiving in wanaka
My tandem master, Jamie and me after our successful skydive!

Apart from skydiving in Wanaka, there are a few other places you can skydive in New Zealand. Here are my recommendations for both the North and South Island:

  • North Island
    • Bay of Islands – Enjoy the view of 144 islands of the Bay of Islands from the air
    • Taupo – Accompanied by the peaks of Ruapehu, Tongariro, and Ngauruhoe, lake Taupo
  • South Island
    • Glenorchy – Fly through the Lord of the Ring and The Hobbit movie backdrop here
    • Queenstown – If you’re there during winter, be prepared to glide through the snow-capped mountains and beautiful landscapes

How much does it cost to skydive?

The average cost of tandem skydiving is between $250 to $470. The main bulk of the costs actually depends on the type of photography/ videography you pick. A handheld GoPro by your tandem master obviously costs lesser than a separate camera flyer to skydive with you for a more panoramic angle. So make sure you set aside a budget for what you would prefer as you plan for your skydive!

Tips for skydiving

Skydiving definitely has its risks involved as an extreme sport. Hence, make sure you:

  • Are dressed in loose clothing with no dangling accessories on you as you gear up
  • Are feeling well and strong for the adrenaline rush that accompanies the jump
  • Listen to the briefing and instructions clearly before and during the dive
  • Do not panic!

Are you excited to skydive now?

Skydiving in Wanaka has got to be one of my most unforgettable experiences during my working holiday in New Zealand. If you’re planning your own working holiday too, do check out my other articles on All You Need to Know About Your New Zealand Working Holiday! All the best to create your own adrenaline-packed holiday in New Zealand!

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