22nd - 27th January (Waiting to fall from the sky over Taupo)
Tom and I shared the five and a half hour drive to Taupo, stopping for sandwiches at the side of the road. We set up our tents at a YHA place close to the centre of town - a nice place but with a tiny kitchen (doesn't affect me too much!) and too few toilets and showers. Some lads were trying to get a game of volleyball going so Tom and I joined in.
Most of our time in Taupo involved watching the weather and phoning the skydive people, one evening we actually got to the airport, Tom and Sasha were harnessed and ready to go (I wasn't feeling 100% so decided to try another day) but the weather had other plans and they didn't jump. We managed to find a few things to keep us entertained while we waited; eating, drinking, watching films, laser-quest, mini-golf, internet, introduced Tom and Sasha to indoor climbing, visited the incredibly fast water of Huka falls, balancing on high wires, beams etc at 'Rock'n'ropes', eating lovely kebebs, got a haircut and finally I noticed the sky clearing one evening as I walked back to the hostel to meet Tom and Sasha who had already phoned the company and were getting ready to go.
I still thought it was about 50/50 as we raced to the airport, filled out the forms and watched the video, the sky still looked very dodgy. I was strapped up and ready to go, my tandem and I were last into the plane so we were due to go first, the clouds over the lake were growing thinner with every minute and I started to feel the nervousness that comes with realising I was very soon going to jump out of a plane at 12,000 feet. It was totally brilliant, better than the bungy, 45 seconds of freefall at over 120mph followed by the upwards jolt of the parachute opening and the serenity of the silent sky over the lake as we drifted down to a gentle landing. Sasha and I paid $219 but Tom paid the $100 extra to have his dive filmed by a cameraman who jumped with him. I have video footage of the before and after which cost $20 and looks quite cool. We all loved it. The next morning we visited the honey hive where they have bees nests enclosed in glass, loads of information about the life of honey bees and a shop selling bee products - it was more interesting than it sounds. After that, Tom and Sasha drove off, leaving me to hitch for the first time in a month. I had been planning on going to the scenic Tongariero crossing for views of Mount Doom from Lord of the rings, but again good weather was required and not forecast so I headed for Rotorua, an area of geothermal activity (volcanic stuff).