July 6, 2008

An Adrenaline Junkie Jumps

(I had typed this up in my laptop at the end of the day, but had no Internet access so could not upload it until July 14th)

We woke up about 7.30am and I was freezing cold! Jin was all warm though.. she had slept in only spaghetti strap and shorts! Me? I was all bundled up with 2 layers in the top as well as the bottom, plus gloves + socks. And I was still cold…

We were the first ones in the kitchen, and we tried to make pancakes… but the pancakes turned out black. Maybe the pan was too hot 🙁 But they were certainly inedible. Jin had made Indomie Goreng for herself already anyway, so I just made another packet for myself.

We checked out a little after 8am, but we heard that the roads to Whakapapa were closed. Bummer!!! (Whakapapa Village was the base of Mt Ruapehu which we wanted to go to for snowboarding) However we decided to try our luck later by driving down to Turangi in the afternoon, and see if the roads would open later.

I had decided to try the bungy as well as the tandem skydive, but the wind was insane! So we went to the Taupo Bungy first and asked if I could bungy in spite of the wind. They said it was not a problem… and I was the first one of the day at 9.15am! I managed to use an AA voucher so that I paid only $88 for the jump instead of $105, but I added on a video and photo DVD as well.

Taupo Bungy. I'm in there getting harnessed.
Taupo Bungy. I’m in there getting harnessed.

I was very nervous, and it took the second try before I went off. What I liked about them was that they were so no-nonsense about it, and they made it feel like it was a normal everyday occurrence (which it probably is for them, since they work there!). I had asked to skim the water, but I was nowhere near touching the water. The jump was over in a matter of seconds!!

Proof of my bungy jump
Proof of my bungy jump

What they didn’t tell me was that I had to make a hike back up. I thought it was a short walk, so I ran initially, but I got tired and had to make a few stops on the way up. It was actually part of a nature trek, I think, because I saw cycle treks as well as warnings to look for abseiling and such. There were also “Danger” signs warning about falling rocks.

I finally got back up amidst the freezing cold, and we had a look at our photos and the video before we went off. It was super! The only thing was, it wasn’t as exhilarating as I hoped it would be. Perhaps because I’ve bungeed before in Koh Samui so I knew what to expect. It was actually shorter than in Koh Samui – it was only 47m (Koh Samui was 50m).

I had booked for a tandem skydive with Freefall Skydive for 1pm, but we weren’t sure whether I could actually dive because of the gale. I called them, but they told me to call back at 12.30-12.40pm. With so much time to kill, we decided to try to go to Honey Hive which promised free entry and free honey tasting. We first went to a shop and left Jin’s snowboard there to be waxed, then we went over to Honey Hive.

But… Honey Hive was closed!!

I tried calling them but I got to a fax instead. Another car with a white family also stopped, and the man went down to take a look at the inside, and we asked what he saw but he said it was all cleaned out inside.

So we drove back to Taupo town and stopped at the Information Centre to check on the information about the roads to Mt Ruapehu, but according to them, the roads were still closed. It was a beautifully sunny day though, so we hoped that the snow would have stopped and the roads would be cleared by afternoon.

Mexi-Choc... Hot chocolate with a hint of chilli!
Mexi-Choc… Hot chocolate with a hint of chilli!

We had a cuppa in a cafe, where I tried a Mexi-Choc, which was hot chocolate with a hint of chilli. It was pretty interesting, and not bad actually. We then went back to the snowboarding shop only to find that her board has been edged, but not waxed yet. Apparently they were understaffed, so we waited until it was waxed (only $35 for edging+waxing) and then we pushed off. Jin found out that Honey Hive had a fire a few weeks ago which was probably why it was still closed.

It was about noon and we didn?t know what to do, so we went over to Taupo Airport and see the Freefall Skydive people anyway. We waited there, and while waiting, they played a DVD for us. The wind had considerably died down since morning, and I was very fortunate… WE COULD SKYDIVE!!

I had an AA voucher for 10% off the DVD photo+video, and I opted for the full package – from 15000 feet + DVD + T-shirt. I didn?t know the AA voucher was still valid even for the package, which was cool! It was applicable only for the price of the DVDs, but still, better than nothing, right?

Getting all harnessed for skydiving
Getting all harnessed for skydiving

So I got all buckled up and there was a British couple with me in the plane. The lady told me that they had been up in the air the past 3 days but couldn?t jump because of the wind. I guess I was very fortunate because I could jump on my first day!

We were up there in the tiny plane and it was really scary because I was right next to the flexi-glass sliding door… it was like, if it accidentally opened, I could tumble right out!!

I was the first one out the door, and as advised, I screamed as I left the plane. In fact I kinda kept screaming throughout the experience. I wanted to try the swimming action and the “Superman” action but somehow I just couldn’t get my hands to move. The air was just keeping them up!


Then my skydivemaster told me to hang on to the harness and the parachute suddenly bloomed up. And I had a fantastic view of Taupo! It was probably for over a minute and all I could think of was my poor cold nose and my upset ears but I still enjoyed the view nonetheless. I did want to ask him if I could steer the parachute, but I admitted to him that I wouldn’t really dare try.

We got back down to the ground safely and waited for the couple. There was a last video shot of us jumping up and down and screaming.
We had to wait for the video to be processed, and we went to a little video room to watch it. Boy, I looked awful! Because I was screaming all the way, I guess. The couple managed to do stunts and all that and I didn’t 🙁

Me with my divemaster, Mike
Me with my divemaster, Mike

Jin and I got back on the road and made our way to Turangi. We stopped by the Information Centre where we found out that the motorway to Whakapapa was open!!! Without much ado, we hit the road!!

View of Lake Taupo
View of Lake Taupo

We made our way to Whakapapa Village, past the Chateau Tongariro (it costs $200 a night) and tried to look for our motel (National Backpackers) but couldn’t find it, so we stopped by the Info Center. I saw my first snow here… and my first contact too. When I got out of the car, I was striding without thinking and fell and slip on the road right away. It was pretty funny 😛 and embarrassing too because there were a bunch of teen boys nearby playing with the snow.

With more care, I made my way to the Info Center with Jin, and went to find out where the National Park was. We thought of trying to get a room at Skotel instead (which was within Whakapapa Village, which is at the base of Mt Ruapehu), and we tried to go there, but Jin’s car couldn’t get up the slope where the Skotel was, so she slid back out. We thought of trying a 3-point turn, but she couldn’t see behind her, so I got out of the car and guided her to an entry lane into a private parking lot, but as she tried to turn out, the car got stuck. It was a nightmare then… there were a bunch of teen boys and girls sledding nearby but they didn’t bother coming over to help. Jin saw a family walking nearby, and quickly asked the man for help. He, his wife, and his daughters were very willing to help us push the car, and we finally managed to get the car moving again. He advised us in the future to not step on the accelerator as it would just dig into the snow; he told us to just accelerate lightly.

Well it was an auto car so it was hard to control. Still, what an adventure 😛

Because of that stupid slope, we decided not to stay in Skotel and made our way over to National Backpacker’s at National Park instead, which was a good 12 km away. Although we had booked our rooms, we hadn’t confirmed them… thankfully they were still available!! We checked in and dumped our things in our room, then we made dinner. Dinner was Indomie Goreng (again!) for Jin, and I had macaroni with cheese bake. There was too much though, and I ate less than half. We struggled through some pears, and then we turned in to sleep.

National Backpackers
National Backpackers


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