Skydiving New Zealand Style

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It’s been almost four years since I jumped out of a plane over New Zealand’s South Island, but it feels like it could’ve been four minutes ago. I’ll never forget the feeling—which, if I’m honest was much scarier than I thought. As the propellor plane ascends (much faster than I expected) and it came time for me (thankfully, with a “master” literally strapped to me) to jump, I wondered whether I had made a huge mistake.

In the end, I’m glad I went through with skydiving, although the topic is of course a bit more nuanced than that. If you’re in the same boat (plane?) as I was—if you’re asking yourself “is New Zealand good for skydiving?”, or some similar question—then I do hope you’ll continue reading.

Why I Waited So Long to Skydive

As was the case with visiting New Zealand in general, I wanted to wait to go skydiving until the time was right. Part of my rationale for both of these was practical: I couldn’t really afford a proper trip to New Zealand in my younger years; although I saw the price of skydiving, at 34, as a nominal expense, it could very well have bankrupted me, had I taken the plunge at 24.

Things to Know About Skydiving in New Zealand

All the companies are basically the same

There are three skydiving companies in Queenstown (or at least there were, before coronavirus), but they all offer basically the same experience, at essentially the same price. Two of them are actually located right next door to one another on Shotover Street; to my eye, the only difference between the two offices was that one has a Chinese-speaking member of staff. Is New Zealand good for skydiving? Certainly, it’s good enough that you don’t need to waste your time shopping around.

Regardless of which New Zealand skydiving shop you visit, you’ll have many choices for where you jump. Popular options include Wanaka and over Queenstown itself, as well as a place called Glenorchy, which I’d never heard of prior to entering the store. The woman behind the counter was adamant that it was her favorite, however, so I ended up booking a drop over Glenorchy at her recommendation.

The details of your jump will likely change

The next morning, however, a woman (another woman) called just after the crack of dawn, to tell me that weather conditions over Glenorchy (namely, upper-level winds) were not suitable for jumping—I could cancel, or change to Wanaka. I briefly considered canceling, but ended up deciding in the moment to go ahead and jump over Wanaka. This is part of the reason you shouldn’t be too emotionally attached to the drop zone you choose!

In addition to the drop zone for my skydive changing, the staff also “upgraded” me (from 9,000′ to 15,000′) for free, although I suspect they end up doing this for everyone, since I doubt a given plane really ascends to three separate altitudes. Furthermore, since I’m a blogger, they also threw in a free photo/video package–I only looked at it once. Part of this was because my hair looked awful and my forehead was so wrinkled I’m now considering botox; at any rate, if I had to go back and pay for it, I probably wouldn’t.

You might feel like you’re suffocating

I didn’t feel very nervous about skydiving at any moment leading up to the dive. The plane ride up was a bit uneasy; but I was between the legs of a very attractive man, which assuaged most of my worries. In spite of this (maybe because of it?) the sensation of jumping out of the plane took me by surprise. You know that feeling you have when water rushes up your nose? That’s what it felt like for me, except it was cold air and it lasted for the entire freefall. For a moment, I thought I would suffocate!

Does Skydiving in New Zealand Live Up to the Hype?

Yes because the scenery is outstanding, and the experience was literally like anything I ever could have anticipated. No, primarily because of feeling like I was suffocating on the way down, and due to the fact that I wish I had done more research before I jumped. Don’t get me wrong: Seeing the Southern Alps on the horizon, and Lake Wanaka beneath me was absolutely incredible.

But while Queenstown skydiving deserves its reputation as being one of the world’s most beautiful spots for its, I later learned that much better options exist. A man I met in Franz Josef reminded me, for example, that skydiving there adds the ocean to the mountain/lake scenery on offer in Wanaka or Glenorchy. My tandem partner himself, as our plane ascended, told me his favorite spot was the Bay of Islands, a destination in the North Island I never even knew existed until that moment.

Other FAQ About Skydiving in New Zealand

How long does skydiving take Queenstown?

Although your jump will only last a few minutes, you should devote an entire day to your New Zealand skydiving experience. Or two: Depending on wind and weather conditions in the upper atmosphere, it’s possible that your morning dive could be delayed until afternoon, or indeed that a Monday dive could be delayed until Tuesday.

How much is skydiving in NZ?

New Zealand skydiving companies offer a variety of packages, but in general you should plan on spending no less than 300 NZD (a bit less than 200 USD) for your skydiving experience. Obviously, you’ll need to pay more for bells and whistles like custom photo and video packages, which the “base” rate never includes.

Where is the best place to skydive in New Zealand?

As a general rule, most people (and certainly, most first timers) enjoy their first skydiving experience somewhere near Queenstown, whether over Queenstown itself, or nearby destinations such as Glenorchy and Wanaka. However, the entire country is great for skydiving, including the North Island. My skydiving instructor recommended that I try the Bay of Islands next!

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