Chica's Gap Year Part II 2005/06 travel blog

About to sky dive from 13,000 ft in Abel Tasman NP

That's me!

Tahunanui beach near Nelson

Arrived in Wellington late afternoon.... to get our bearing s we went up Mt Victoria for views all over the city. Although Wellington is the capital of NZ, it's not huge and is easy to get around. At first I was relieved that it didn't appear as hilly as Auckland... naturally it was just the downtown area on the flat, the rest of the city was hilly! The views were again spectacular!

A must see in Wellington is the national museum Te Papa. It was huge, we needed a guided tour just to get our bearings. Like the Science Museum in Valencia it was very inter-active, great fun and interesting. Exhibits were a mix of natural history, Maori history, European and Asian colonisation. You could even do a virtual bungy jump... not my cup of tea!

The city is home to Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings director) and we spotted Jonah Lomu's old house overlooking the bay. it's a pretty place, lots of cafes, restaurants, shopping and the Empire Cinema which hosted the world premiere of LOTR. I liked it here, though the weather could be a bit unpredictable.

The ferry across the Cook Straight and Malborough Sound to the South Island took 3 hours. The scenery was amazing and time passed quickly. Arriving in Picton, the landscapes were very different from the north, lots of mountains, lakes, trees and fewer people.

We stayed the night in Tahananui near Nelson where the beaches were vast and possibly the widest I've ever seen... though the water was a bit cold ;o( Apparently, Nelson gets more sunshine than the rest of NZ which explains the number of vineyards in the nearby Bleinheim area...I've had it on good authority that the wines from this region are very good. Montana Pino Gris got the thumbs up from a number of people (can't remember which year though).

I signed up for a skydive at 13,000 feet. Not sure what possessed me, possibly the fact that it was much cheaper doing it here than back in the UK. Didn't sleep too well the night before. 8 of us decided to do it and at least we were doing a tandem dive strapped to an instructor. My instructor was called Dave and was from Caversham.... just how small is the world ?? He had been in NZ for over 20 years though still sounded as though he came from Reading!! I was the last in the plane...didn't take me long to realise that I would be the first out ;o( Had a guy shooting a DVD of the whole thing, doesn't do your nerves much good when a camera is thrust in your face as the plane is ascending. I did take a few deep breaths as we edged to the open doorway, even managed a smile for the camera before leaving the plane!

What was really strange was that I didn't scream or yell when we left the plane. I guess the fact that there was someone else there acted as some comfort. 50 seconds of freefall.... a managed some gurning for the DVD (we did copy the DVD and took some still photos, however, I packed the disc in a box bound for home so you'll have to hang on for those photos). Couldn't hear much, I think we were falling at around 200 kph. Next thing I know the cameraman had disappeared and the parachute opened pulling us back up into the sky, that was a bit of a shock! Had a bit of trouble with my ears and not being able to pop them, just as well the views were there to take my mind off it! Had unsurpassed vistas of the Abel Tasman National Park, coastlines and Kaikoura ranges which were covered in snow. As we came down Dave decided to do some twists and turns.... I started screaming! Not long after we were making a landing, the camera was back in my face, I think I mumbled something fairly unexceptional.... yeah it was good I might even have said brilliant... The cameraman didn't ask me if I would do it again. Just for the record I don't think I would!

It wasn't until I watched the DVD later that evening that it hit me what I had done ;o)

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