Monday, 15 November 2010

Taranaki, Franz Josef Glacier and our Skydive at Lake Wanaka!

We have managed to get our photos of Taranaki (the West coast of the North Island) off the memory card as Sky, Tony's mate who we stayed with in Wanaka, had a Mac.  We are actually now in Queenstown.  Tony's psyching himself up for the "Big Al" at Fergburger as we speak (he has been in training the past 3 days - he ate 3 and a half burgers on Sunday, a Mofo from Red Star in Wanaka yesterday and will be comparing the Big Al to that today in Queenstown).  

Anyway, before all this burger gorging we were actually trying to be healthy by going surfing everyday in the beautiful region of Taranaki.  I had a brand new wetsuit, the sun was shining, and conditions were pretty good as well.

Tony's wetsuit next to mine
I mostly surfed on Oakura beach, but Tony was surfing at Back beach, which got pretty big on our last days.  It was also "perfect, clean lines" (Tony speaking not me) which you can see from the photo below...

Tony paddling for a wave
Tony catching a wave at the river mouth in Oakura, Taranaki
I have to say I struggled a little bit with it first it was a bit cold, and i didn't really know what I was doing half the time.  But after a bit of time in the water you kind of get used to being bashed around by waves, and it almost becomes fun (ha!) .  I was in the water by myself for quite a bit so that Tony could actually get some photos of me, and while I was in the water the waves seemed so huge to me!  Looking back at the photos, I realise I need to become less of a wimp and man up.  They are pretty tiny, as you can also see from the photo below.  I can't remember whether I stood up in that one, but Tony says I did really well as apparently I was catching unbroken waves, which is the step up from white water.  

Me attempting to look cool catching a wave at Oakura beach, Taranaki
Mount Taranaki sits in the distance, and you can see it sometimes while you're surfing in Back beach.  It makes for a pretty spectacular view when the clouds stay away.  

Mount Egmont, also known as Mount Taranaki
So, we have made it down to Queenstown after a brief 3 days down the West coast of the South Island, and about 3 days in Wanaka.  The West coast was beautiful, but there are millions of horrible little sandflies.  They are like even stupider, small mosquitoes.  We stopped off at one campsite which was a beautiful spot right next to a lake, and we actually couldn't get out of the car without being swarmed with the things.  We spent the whole afternoon watching the Wire and then in the evening when they die down a bit Tony managed to do a spot of fishing.  There were also all these cool birds that were like massive fat parrots.  They weren't shy either, so you could get really close to them for a decent photo.

A Kea 

We did go to visit the Franz Josef and Fox Glacier while we were there.  We didn't do a walk on the ice but you can just park up and walk pretty close to it.  It was really nice weather for the Franz Josef glacier, but just 5 mins down the road to Fox Glacier it was rainy and horrible!  

Tony at the Franz Josef Glacier
After having seen them both, we decided to make our way to Wanaka a day early to go and visit Sky and Sam, and to do a skydive there as well!  We met up with a couple of Tony's mates, Alun and Sarah, who were in the area.

We were unfortunately all a bit hungover the day we did the skydive.  It was a really nice morning and we were hoping we could just show up and do it.  But at 10am Tony calls them up and they say, "yeah, we've got a slot at half 10!".  So we basically had to down some breakfast and get going, all a bit bleary eyed.  Luckily we didn't actually jump until about half 12, 1pm due to the backlog they had there.  We did get slowly and quietly very nervous about the whole thing, watching people taking off, jumping and landing and thinking, "shit, it's almost our turn!". It finally came round to us, and I think the sequence of photos explains quite well what happened....

Getting the kit on
Getting to the tiny little airplane...
The four of us in the sky
Tony and his instructor, Mac
Me and my instructor, Eugene
My face after the skydive
It was the most mental thing I've ever done, and probably will ever do.  The thing I actually really hated was the plane journey up.  It was so tiny and my palms were sweating more than I've ever known they could sweat.  I think I wasn't the only one whose tummy was doing somersaults inside.  I kept looking back at Alun and Sarah and just seeing shocked faces!  Then we got to the right altitude, and I realise that Tony is jumping first.  By the way, his instructor was an absolute tank of a man.  He also kept making these "jokes" about the parachute and things, and how they were due to lose a few English....haha yeah funny....

Watching Tony fall out of the plane gave me such a shock!  And then I was next....I don't think i'll ever stop having flashbacks of the moment you fall out of the edge of the plane.  I think my mind and stomach completely flipped at that point.  You free fall for about 45 seconds (oh yeah, and we fell from 12,000ft) and then your instructor pulls the parachute, and when he does it feels like you're in a lift and it jolts all the way up, making your stomach do turns you didn't think it could.  Then apparently you "relax" and try to take in the scenery, which is beautiful.  

It was all over so much quicker than I thought it would be.  Apparently the adrenalin rush you get is so much that it does make it seem like no time at all has passed.  I would maybe do it again just to try and take in the scenery a bit more, but i'm not sure...Tony has already said he would do it again.

So, the next post will be all about burgers - The Mofo vs. The Big Al.  Tony's been looking forward to this for so long, it's actually quite funny...


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