Bungee jumping is like almost committing suicide by jumping off something very high, except you don’t actually die. Skydiving is on a whole other level. You throw yourself out of a perfectly good plane from thousands of feet up in the sky and hurtle towards the ground with nothing but a man and a piece of fabric strapped to your back.
Skydiving is one of the most popular activities to do in New Zealand and there are a huge range of locations to choose from. The more you pay, the higher you go, and the higher you go the longer your freefall, and that is where you get the adrenaline rush from.
You will always pay extra for photos and videos, from a hand-held camera in your face to paying another person to jump with you just to film it. Sometimes you’ll get a free hoody or t-shirt thrown in. It’s worth every penny, for most it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.
You can skydive over mountains and glaciers in Franz Josef with Sky Dive Franz. Lonely Planet calls it one of the most scenic skydives you’ll ever do. It’s ranked up there along with skydiving Mount Everest, except you’ll pay thousands less than the $35,000 tandem jump from the top of the world.
A 19,000 ft skydive with a 75-second free fall will set you back $559 with photo and video options starting from $120 for a hand-held GoPro, to $259 for the hand-held cam and a personal photographer.
Queenstown is the adrenaline capital of New Zealand, so of course you can skydive here. Go to NZone Skydive to check it out. As everywhere in New Zealand you have breathtaking scenery to enjoy as you plummet towards the ground, and a 15,000 feet tandem jump will cost $439. Having photos or videos to take home will set you back $189, and you’ll pay $229 for both.
If the beach and the ocean is what you want to see below you then head to Tauranga Tandem Skydive and jump over the beautiful coastline of the Bay of Plenty. The 12,000 foot, 45-second free-fall jump only costs $375 and the photo and DVD packages start at $125, with the full package costing $195.
I chose to do mine with Skydive Taupo, super friendly staff and they even pick you up in a limousine. On a clear day you can see from the east to the west coast of the North Island, and as you fall back down to earth you can see all of Lake Taupo, the largest lake in New Zealand with the peaks of the mountains of the Tongariro National Park to the South.
A 15,000-foot jump and a 60-second free-fall from their pink plane with hand-cam photos or video and a t-shirt will cost $499, one of the cheapest packages in the country for that height.
My skydive over Lake Taupo, 2009
Here are a few of the photos from my tandem jump from 15,000 feet over Taupo. They even edit your video, letting you choose the tracks, and put everything onto a DVD for you to take home and show off to the family.
You can view the full album here.