After a not so long bus ride to Franz Josef, we arrive around midday and do a quick stop off in town to register for the heli hike in the Fox Glacier, but weather isn’t looking promising with a forecast of the heaviest rainfall expected all day monsoon levels.
So as the lads Alex, Harry, Billy and Gin who are signed up to the skydive here meant to be leaving I make a very spontaneous decision to do the skydive as it is the 2nd most scenic in the world with Everest being the first and costs $15,000 to do! And it was always one I said I wanted to do so with the heli hike having big chances of being cancelled at least doing it means I see the glacier from the air.
Luckily they have space for me to do it and as it is such a lovely sunny day the views should be really good. There is a quite a big group of us doing it, which is good with most doing the 16500 feet rather than the 13000. The ride up to the skydive center takes about 20 minutes, so is quite far up the mountain along a winding road but gives good views. As there are so many of us and because the planes just take up 3 people at a time, most of the afternoon is spent waiting around for everyone as we are split into 5 groups. I am on the 2nd to last plane, Harry and Alex are on the 3rd plane and Jin and Billy the last one so they get the full sunset, but I still get some of it too and it looks nice having the pink colour on top of the alps with the bright white surrounding it.
Not feeling too nervous, as it is the 2nd one and know what to expect. Some of the others like Alex are quite nervous and it is the long waiting around that doesn’t help. As he is few jumps before me, when he comes back totally buzzing for it and feeling like has faced a big challenge of his as is really scared of heights like me, maybe even a bit worse. On my dive there are the two Swedish girls Kaiser and Linia, who are doing just 13,000 so they jump out the plane first and then as I am higher need to have an oxygen mask for a bit. My diver is cool and one of the older guys, so plenty of experience and he talks me through what I need to do again as we get ready to jump, taking pictures all the time as we go. As we move forward to the door and it opens, that’s the only time I feel a little bit nervous as it looks different to Cairns because of the mountains being so high it crosses my mind how I could possibly jump into a mountain range, but then not really having much more time to think the guys pushes us out and it the G-force.
Being that little bit higher, you notice the longer time freefalling and as that is the best bit it is really good fun and even have time to do a few different poses and show the hand I wrote “SWEET” onto. Not wearing gloves my hands are pretty cold, but just OK enough to not think too much about it and enjoy the amazing views coming down. Once the parachute opens, he lets me control the direction pulling it to the left and right which is fun. As I’m not going too crazy with it, he makes it suddenly go in circles so that we can get good view of Mount Cook and Mount Tasmen and then the Tasman sea. It makes me a bit dizzy, but not as bad as Cairns did and it is a more chilled time gliding down taking in all the scenery, understanding why it is the 2nd most scenic one in the world.
The landing goes well and able to land on my feet, which my instructor said was good so already an expert haha after 1 dive. Totally pleased decided to do it last minute, as so much better than Cairns and really buzzing after it. Running out of daylight, the skydivers need to quickly get us back to get Billy and Jin and it reminds me of the A-Team jumping out of the van while it is still moving and then rushing round to harness them up and get them out so they catch the sunset. So not having to wait too long after my jump, we all watch a view of the videos from the day for those who bought the DVD and really interesting to see how everyone reacts differently as they jump out, Some don’t change their expression, look like they are going to cry or are so happy (like Alex) just loving life. A great end to my first day in Franz and ready to get back to the hostel for the Pizza Feast, a night of unlimited pizza and a wine. However after far too much pizza and being tired from the fancy dress, everyone gets super tired and so rest of the night is spent just chilling in the room some watching a film and for me catching up on admin and organising all the great pics have from the day.
3rd May 2016