Around midday, we left Waitomo behind and headed for Lake Taupo, which is known as the adventure capital of the North Island famous for skydiving, bungy jumping, jet boating and the spectacular Tongariro Crossing! The sun was setting in just hours when we arrived at our hostel in Taupo. I rushed with a few eager sky diving virgins to the local airstrip in hopes to get a jump in before night was upon us. There was a couple traveling from China whom I will never forget.
Once we all packed onto the little airplane I suddenly got very nervous. I tried to close my eyes and not think about the fact that I was going to be jumping out of this little tin can with wings. I looked over at the Chinese man beside me who looked as though he may barf. I actually had to look out the window as looking at him made me feel ill with worry. All of a sudden the door to the airplane swung open, apparently we had reached 15 000 big ones and people all started to drop into the sky. I can’t tell you how absolutely frightened I felt as my tandem instructor sat on the side of the plane, with my legs dangling above Lake Taupo. And in an instant we laughed into space and began plummeting to the ground. Falling to your death is sort of intense to say the least. The sun turned a red crimson colour and as I flew across the horizon. I was freezing to death the entire time I dropped. By the time our parachute caught the wind my hands were frozen solid and I was worried of getting frost bite. We landed on the ground with a bit of a tumble roll and I was happy to have survived. I love rush thrills but would say that I enjoyed bungee jumping in Queenstown more than I did diving from the sky.
The following day we headed south around the “great lake” towards the Tongariro National Park for a picnic lunch and a two hour walk through native bush and waterfalls. When we arrived at the park it was actually snowing and our “picnic” was more of a freezing huddle under a park picnic bench. It finally cleared up a bit and we were able to enjoy a beautiful hike through one of New Zealand’s most scenic parks. Amazing rolling hills, snow capped mountains in the distance and water falls. In the afternoon we traveled through to the ultimate adventure lodge – River Valley, situated amongst towering cliffs and bush-clad hills. I will never forget how cold I felt that evening at the Lodge. I had a quick hot shower and bundled up in a sweater beside the fire with a baileys on the rocks.