Parachutes have a way of eliminating excess weight – like the leftover pounds of a post-pregnant mother, or the unwanted ounces of one visitor’s recent addiction to hokey pokey ice cream. Even the heavy winter coats we wear for a season that never seems to end. All these burdens are temporarily forgotten under one massive yellow safety net.
Painted on the parachute are two eyes, a smile and the name of this vacation paradise, Queenstown. As Rock unfurls it behind the Paraflights boat, I wonder how this flimsy sheet can actually carry two full-grown women.
“Doesn’t look so bad,” Mom shouts over the motor, though she and I are obviously thinking slightly less confident thoughts. The curse of the Adrenaline Amateur is to always hope something natural will cancel your adventure, before your terrified bladder does.
But she’s right, this looks survivable. As the other two passengers – Dunedin uni students in a shocking ensemble of shorts and t-shirts – gracefully glide back to deck, I agree with the pilot, Quinn. “Yes, we’re ready!”
Harnessed next to Mom, I count back to the last time I did anything ‘extreme’ in town. Though it’s nicknamed Adrenalin Capital of the World, my last forays into wildness seem like eons ago, before I had a baby. Before we ‘settled’ down in New Zealand.
Bungy jumping, paragliding, river surfing . . . “Just remember, stand when you land,” Rock instructs.
. . . The world’s biggest bungy swing . . . A gust of wind lifts us elegantly off the boat.
. . . And now parasailing, I think as my toes dangle higher and higher above Lake Wakitipu.
It’s quiet up here. We should be yammering about the altitude and keeping a firm grip on the rigging, but mom and I are silenced by the dramatic scenery. I think we’re also secretly pleased not to have swore aloud as the parachute pulled us into the air.
Some six hundred feet in the sky, we are unencumbered by gravity or her impending departure; my easing post-natal nightmares, the washing I will need to do later . . . Just us. The way we see ourselves, I suppose. Young, brave, witty, free.
It’s only fifteen minutes but feels like an hour. Quinn points the boat back toward Queenstown, teasing us with a narrowly-missed dip into Wakipitu’s freezing waters. “Stand as you land!” Rock reminds us.
Naturally, we crash onto deck in an exuberant pile of arms and legs and laughter.
Maybe it’s not the parachutes, but the outrageous things themselves that make us weightless. Whether they remove a layer of adult responsibility from a new parent’s shoulders, or remind the worrier how much fun a little risk can be. Perhaps they even give us an excuse to giggle like kids again. Something worth doing every single day . . .
(Queenstown Paraflights operates year-round from the town pier. One – four folks can fly at any time, weight depending. Prices vary. To make a booking or watch the ungainly landing of other tourists, just follow that big yellow face in the sky).
Photo credit: Parasailing images courtesy of Queenstown Paraflights.