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The Day When I Conquered My Fear : Skydiving in Fox Glacier, New Zealand

I am afraid of height. Very afraid. I don’t even do any adrenaline attraction in theme park again since I left high school. I would happily prefer to sit down and take care of my friends’ belonging on the ground, while they are screaming out in the air. It’s just not my thing. Height is my fear, I’d prefer not to deal with it. No, thanks.

One day, few years ago when I was crazy obsessed about New Zealand, I stumbled upon video on youtube and found skydiving video in New Zealand. Damn! I almost screamed my self out just to watch the video, it looked so insane and uber awesome at the same time.
I was battling with myself, half side of me really wanted to do it, another half side of me completely declined it. But at the end this another half loosen up.

OK FINE, put it in the bucket list! 

I gave all my guts on the table so I wanted it to be worth doing. I meant, I wanted to do it in a place with to-die-for view that gonna make my jump worth every mili-guts I have. New Zealand it is. I was planning to do it in Lake Tekapo or Pukaki, but then I changed it to Queenstown, I checked the website of one provider, they still have a lot of available slots on the day when I will be In Queenstown, which made me think no advanced booking necessary.

At the night I arrived in Queenstown, I checked the same website and was about to book it for tomorrow, turned out it all sold out. I quickly searched for another provider. Kinda surprised that actually there are only 2 skydiving provider in Queenstown. NZ One and Skydive Paradise. And both of them were full booked! Noooooo!!! But I couldn’t lie that deep inside, I was a bit happy and relieved. Hehehe

Maybe its a sign that I shouldn’t do it, myself started to make an excuse.

On the next day, when I was wandering around downtown of Queenstown with a skydive brochure in my hand that I got from our campervan rental office, all of sudden a guy approached me and asking : “You wanna do skydive?” and I answered : “yes, but they are all sold out”. Then he offered to help me out, he made a little run to the shop just where I stood next to. I followed him. He was checking something on the computer. Then said to me that it was full booked for the next 2 days.

Told yaa!

Had not give up yet, he asked where I will be heading after, I shared him my route to Milford Sound, Haast, and Fox or Franz Joseph Glacier. He came with an idea to skydive in Frans Joseph Glacier and convinced me that that’s gonna be awesome place to skydive. I was sold. Well, as long as the provider trusted. Unfortunately (again) no space available on the day I will get there.

See? the sign is getting stronger. I wasn’t allowed to do skydive!

He finally came with another idea. “How about Fox Glacier??”
He did a phone call to whom I believe is the skydive provider in Fox Glacier. And…..yes, there were still some slots.

My stomach felt like tickled, mixed feeling between happy, excited, nervous, and also disappointed. He registered me with 13,000 feet height skydive in Fox Glacier.

Oh shit, I’m seriously gonna die! My palm was sweating by the time I paid for it. It was $299 for 13,000 ft height. You can get 9,000 Ft for only $250 but, these dude said I would get nothing with 9,000 ft. So yeah I followed their suggestion. Ah ya, funny thing was, Patricja – who actually wanted to do bungee and Nunu – who wanted to do helicopter ride, finally changed their mind and switched to skydive instead! Lol! At least, I would not gonna die alone up there!

Started from that moment, every time I think about skydive, my palm began to sweat. There were still 2 days before it came. Something might still happen, like we didn’t make it to Fox Glacier on time, or maybe something about the weather. There still hope for it not to happened. I was having too much thinking about it that I even had a dream about skydive on the night before I jump.  LoL! Think I was pretty stressed at that time.

Finally the day had come, we got up early in the morning, because we need to be in Fox Glacier Skydiving office at 8, which located only 5 minutes away from our holiday park. We did some paper sign before they gave us short brief and gear to wear. On the brief, they taught us that we have to do banana style when hanging on the plane door just before we jump, so that our tandem will be easily jump out and make the right position on free fall. Oh yeah, I paid for another $149 for video documentation. I know, that was such a ripped off! It’s half of skydive price. How ironic. But since documentation is very important, so I bought it.

The plane was ready and 3 of us directed to go in. To be honest, I did not feel that scared anymore. but more to ‘shouganai’ (it’s Japanese word, can’t find the exact words in english). Its’ like ‘can’t help it’ or ‘just the way it is’ so let it be.

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It did happen so quick. Plane took off and in less then 5 minutes we already flew above the clouds. I still remember how I got stunned to the view I could see from the window. The mighty Southern Alps pretentiously standing together with the mountain and bright blue sky. My tandem asking me how I was, well – he knew I was nervous. I answered him that I was not okay but that view out there definitely calm me down. He was so good, he kept saying things to make me calm; that he is experienced -already did thousands jump in his life, that everything’s gonna be alright, that I will love and enjoy in every second of our fall.
“Taking care the safety is my job, and to enjoy is your job”- He said.
He looked at digital altimeter on his hand wrist, opened up the sliding door, creeping to the edge, and…there I was – hanging outside the plane’s door. The fear was exactly in front of my face, ready to slap me. I took a deep breathe, all I could hear was the strong wind echoing in my ear. I promised my self not to ever look down, I looked up at the sky instead, did the banana style, and…. We jumped!

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I don’t remember if I was screaming or not. All I remember, my eyes caught that ultimate impressive scenery as soon as we jumped. I rolled my eyes to left and right, wanted to see as much I can. The wind slapping my face so hard but I still could manage to see Southern Alps, glaciers, mountains, ocean in one frame – OH MY GOD! You’re such a greatest creator, ever! I was too busy admiring that I didn’t realize that I was in a free fall from 13,000 height with 200km/hour speed. The fall was very-very steady and comfortable. I thought it’s gonna be like being in a super roller coaster or maybe worse. Apparently, it was faaaarr better. I enjoyed my free fall so much.

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Felt a bit quake when Mark – my tandem finally opened the parachute after about 45 seconds free fall. I could feel our fall stopped and went slower in a sudden. Then everything looked more clear. I was saying : ‘OMG! this is amazing’ so many times. The ground still looked tiny but I could see unlimited field with so many sheeps down there, also a tiny river, and lake. That was the best beyond the best thing I’ve seen in my life.

We were about at the same height as the cloud. I had been always wondering how it feels to touch it, and I finally touched it. Not literally touch though, because it is actually a thick smoke, like fog. But I’m really glad I could fly through it. Really amazing.

Do you see that rainbow circle? We’re heading there … Mark talked behind my ear while driving the parachute to the right. Yes, I saw a small round circle of rainbow just in the middle of the clouds, and I went through it. I asked Mark to record it, but he wasn’t ready yet to press the camera on, guess he was busy controlling the parachute. But that moment will surely stay forever in my memory.

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going thru the clouds

After about 30 mins flying, the ground was getting closer. Mark gave me a sign to be ready in landing position. It went so smooth and not long after, I could see Patricja and Nunu’s parachute also approaching the ground. I ran into them and hug them, so happy that we did it. Definitely the most amazing thing I’ve ever done in my life. Couldn’t stop smiling after that. Hey fear, I won 😉

A mountain of thanks to Mark and his team in Skydive Fox Glacier, for helping me conquer my fear and for introducing me to that extravagant view of heaven on earth.

This is the video they recorded. Actually it’s 6 mins length, but I edited again to be 3 mins only. Psst, I was smart enough to buy video only so that I could capture it by myself via screen shot to produce photo.  So I don’t need to pay for another $30 to get video + photo documentation, like my friend did. Hihihi…